HAVE WE BECOME LIVING PAWN ON THE MONOPOLY BOARD OF LIFE?

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Aren’t most of us looking for an investment that will yield lasting dividends? Don’t we all want to discover some sense of satisfaction and meaningful purpose in life? Yet, where do you find it? Unfortunately when I travel and inadvertently overhear the conversations of others in restaurants, I don’t regularly find folks who seemingly are enjoying the “good life”. People are either complaining or bragging, but I get the sense that most of the folks aren’t content with the status quo. Maybe that’s why some refer to it as the “rat race”. Calvin Miller highlighted our circumstances by saying: “Hate dresses well to please the buyer.”

People are either complaining about family matters, politics, work deadlines, scheduled familial activities or bragging about their next major purchase, new home, dream vacation or the fancy new car setting in their driveway. It is almost as though in the make believe world of adulthood, we’ve become the living pawns on the Monopoly Board of life. Have you noticed how we continue making that same square circuit around the board time and time again?

Even Solomon, the wisest man who ever lived, struggled with these defining issues. Stephen Covey writes: “If the ladder is not leaning against the right wall, every step we take just gets us to the wrong place faster”.

Thomas Merton stated: “People may spend their whole lives climbing the ladder of success only to find, once they reach the top, that the ladder is against the wrong wall”.

Chuck Swindoll summed it up like this: “The good life – the one that truly satisfies – exists only when we stop wanting a better one. “It is the condition of savoring what is rather than longing for what might be. The itch for things, the lust for more – so brilliantly injected by those who peddle them – is a virus draining our souls of happy contentment.

“Have you noticed? A man never makes enough? A woman is never beautiful enough. Clothes are never fashionable enough. Cars are never nice enough. Gadgets are never modern enough. Houses are never furnished enough. Food is never fancy enough. Relationships are never romantic enough. Life is never full enough.

“Satisfaction comes when we step off the escalator of desire and say, ‘This is enough. What I have will do. What I make of it is up to me and my vital union with the living Lord.”

Is it all smoke and mirrors? As baby boomers and beyond, didn’t we grow up dreaming of the good life?   Yet we settled for the busy life and subsequently by default, the frayed life. The frayed life always eventually unravels in meaningless activity and leads to a sense of exhaustion. How about you? How do you measure your personal value?

For years I’ve made the observation that the only things that any of us have in life that are eternal is our children. In recent months, I’ve broadened the statement to include “people in our lives”. People are eternal. Things are temporal.

Last week, by happenstance, I ran across a feel-good story that talks about an ESPN reporter’s investment that made a difference. It was the story of Lisa Fenn and how her work obligations blossomed into something far beyond her imagination. In the process, two young athletes learned about the power of love.

Their names were not household names. I had never heard of Leroy Sutton or Dartanyon Crockett before. Both were high school students at Cleveland’s Lincoln-West High School. For that matter, I don’t even know how to properly pronounce “Dartanyon’s” name. In addition, I was not familiar with the name Lisa Fenn.

I am not the sharpest Crayola in the box, but I bet I would have noticed the same thing Lisa noticed in her 2009 story entitled: “Carry On”. She expressed it this way: “The one with no legs, being carried by the one who could not see”. The two were teammates on Lincoln-West High School’s wrestling team.

For ten years Lisa had traveled the country chronicling human-interest stories against the backdrop of sports. She says of Dartanyon and Leroy: “But what I found on the wrestling mats at Cleveland’s Lincoln-West High School in 2009 caused my spirit to sink and soar, all in the same moment”.

“Dartanyon was Lincoln’s best and strongest talent. He was 5-foot-7 with muscles bunched like buckeyes and a winner in multiple weight classes. He was also homeless, subsisting on the soggy mozzarella sticks and badly bruised apples served in cafeteria lunches. His mama died of an aneurysm when he was 8 years young, at which point family collected him and took him to live in an East Cleveland crack house. Where exactly it was Dartanyon could not say because Dartanyon is legally blind. Born with Leber’s disease, a condition that causes acute vision loss, he can barely make out the facial features of a person sitting a few feet away.

“Perched atop Dartanyon’s back — yes, riding on his back — was teammate Leroy Sutton. He traveled around up there because he had no legs, and the school had no elevator. And because when he was 11 years young, he was hit by a train. Yes, a freight train. Though the paramedics saved his life, they could not save his entire body. His left leg was amputated below the knee, his right leg below the hip. His mother, ravaged by guilt, soon slipped into drug use and disappeared for stretches of time, leaving Leroy alone to care for his younger sister. His father spent nearly all of Leroy’s youth in jail. The ‘why’ questions haunted Leroy, but he learned to mask their torment with a quick smile.

“The one with no legs, being carried by the one who could not see. At first, I stayed because I simply could not look away”. But when she finished the piece about Crockett and Sutton she couldn’t leave their lives. She took it upon herself to help “the one with no legs, being carried by the one who could not see” get to college. She raised donations from all over the world”.

It is an amazing story. Lisa says: “I stayed because I would not be next on the list of people who walked out and over their trust. I stayed because we get only one life, and [as Jesus said] we don’t truly live until we give it away. I stayed because we can change the world only when we enter into another’s world. I stayed because I love you.”

All My Best!

Don

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