For the longest time I have wanted to write a book about the balance between “Christian dichotomies”, that is, Biblical principles that seem to be contradictory, like loving kids tenderly, vs. disciplining them, or doing things because you have to –out of obligation (which sounds legalistic), vs. out of love when you really feel like…. Or being spontaneous letting the Holy Spirit flow freely vs. planning and being prepared to be used by Him.
This came to mind because as I think of my life the last 40 years, I can’t help it but see awesome things happening in my life. My parents came to know Christ because some faithful small group leader kept on inviting them to church. Although they rejected the invitation several times, it wasn’t until I, as a ~6 month’s old baby, was dying in the hospital due to a respiratory illness, that my father saw no other option but to let these “Christians” pray for the baby, and a miracle happened. I was healed virtually immediately, started eating and here I am four decades later.
That was just the beginning. Since then, I have been privileged with having a fairly easy understanding of academics, especially music, math and languages. I have enjoyed pretty good friends, and even though growing up in a third world country, and in spite of living in poverty, I never knew we were poor -not that poor at least. Going into my teenage years I never had any major social problems and even when my dad walked away from the family, I always had some ‘father figure’ teaching me the basics of life such as driving, shooting, or camping. I have always enjoyed of very good jobs with very good companies and typically have gone up in the corporate ladder pretty quickly. I have traveled, enjoyed some of the finest restaurants, hotels and places. I have been privileged to meet and learn from Baptists, Presbyterians, Charismatics, and atheists, from various languages, cultures and walks in life. I had the opportunity to move to United States and today I have a house and a car and a job that the little 10-year old Luis would have never even imagined possible. I have a beautiful, hard working, godly woman as a wife, and kids that bring me joy and pride every single day.
When I was in my late teens I made a list of goals and how would I accomplish them, with dates and milestones. Not long ago I realized, I pretty much accomplished them all –or did even better.
Does it sound like I’m bragging? I kind of am. In fact, I have gotten used to friends telling me “you have a star” or “you are so lucky” and it is kind of true. My answer always is, “yes I have a ‘star’, His name is Jesus!”.
You see, anyone who has spent sometime around me knows that I am a very regular guy, not rich, not a genius, not even close to perfect in my walk at all. When I look back I can see how many times I have messed up, been lazy, dishonest and merely sinful, I have made mistakes and sometimes paid for them. Still, I see so many good things that my only explanation is: God loves me and gave me the life I live, the opportunities I find myself in, and the abilities I possess, for a reason. He, God, has been my provider, my helper, my protector and literally, the father to this fatherless. He has done it all, he deserves the glory, I am nothing but a story of God’s grace.
With that being said, coming back to the dichotomies, I would be doing a disservice to my kids if I didn’t teach them also that God, through my mother, other role figures, and experiences, has taught me that success happens when opportunity and preparation meet. Our job, no matter who we are, where we were born, and what we were born with, is to make the best of our resources and talents. Whether born in a third world country or in a country club in Manhattan, we all have limitations and abilities, that is the hand we were handed, and that’s that we have to play with, plan and use.
I’m pretty convinced that if you work hard, and seek to be best at whatever you do, success will come. Maybe not the success you thought, or success as defined by others, but success born out of knowing you did your best, and accomplished something. Choices have consequences and if I can instill this life principle in my kids, they will avoid so much pain and reap so much success.
It’s been a fun 40 years, but I still have lots of plans, dreams and goals. I don’t feel too old, this is just a springboard to greater success. Moses left his homeland at 40 and his real known actions were just starting. Joshua fought the battle of Jericho way beyond his 40’s, Saul of tarsus (Paul), also around his 40’s, went from a Christian’s killer to the influencer of the Gospel to the non-Jewish world for 2 millennia. Jean Eugene Atget, now considered one of the world’s greatest photographers, did not begin until he was 40. Renowned American folk artist Grandma Moses did not take up her craft until she was in her 70s and, Terri Tapper, at age 50, became the oldest female certified kiteboard instructor in the USA (and possibly the world). Harland Sanders was steamboat pilot, insurance salesman, farmer, and railroad fireman, but it wasn’t until his 40’s when he started cooking chicken, and becoming famous as the Kentucky Fried Chicken Mogul. Justinian’s codification of Roman Law, Mark Twain’s Tom Sawyer and Huckleberry Finn, Mother Teresa’s humanitarian legacy, and many many more great things have been accomplished after that ‘mid-life’ time.
So, maybe I’m not writing that dichotomies book yet, however if I was to write a book about my life today, and considering all the great things that have happened and the greatest things yet to be done, my book would be called “My First Forty years”.