Don’t Waste Your Life

“The truth is that you can spend your life any way you want, but you can spend it only once.” I loved being reminded of this….especially by a former mentor…who died this past year. Gail came into my life at a time when I was old enough to realize I didn’t know very much.

I had just won Miss South Carolina and had the opportunity of a lifetime sitting in front of me. The Miss America pageant was just 6 weeks away and I very much wanted to become Miss America. I will always remember Gail for the things she said to me to motivate me and make me think. Throughout my year as Miss South Carolina…and when coming to grips with not being Miss America….Gail would make this spending life statement to me. She said it to me in the weeks leading up to Miss America and for many years after Miss America. She was great at reminding me to seize the moments of life.

To make the most of and value the life and opportunities I had been given.

She really wanted me to constantly realize the value of my time and how I spent it. She encouraged me as well to be a big thinker. I recently heard Donald Trump say, “You have to think anyway…you might as well think big.” I can honestly say….Gail said this same sort of thing to me years ago as I was preparing for the Miss America Pageant.

She really helped to shape my thinking. If you don’t believe you can….you probably can’t. Translation? How you think…shapes how you look at life…and how you see yourself…and it directly relates to the actions you take. Before Gail came along, I had been taught James 1:5-8. “If any of you lacks wisdom, you should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to you. But when you ask, you must believe and not doubt, because the one who doubts is like a wave of the sea, blown and tossed by the wind. That person should not expect to receive anything from the Lord. Such a person is double-minded and unstable in all they do.”

First, let me say–you can’t think your way to success….with no action. And positive thinking…isn’t all there is to life. Many preachers are criticized for the “health and wealth” gospel. I have now lived 52 years and I know…that bad things happened to good people. Unfairness exists in this world as does the poor…..the underprivileged…the sick.

But what I have lived and know is this: we all have choices…and one of those is …how we choose to think…which in turn affects our attitudes, our outlook, and ultimately, our actions.

Paul, the writer of a portion of the New Testament, had a great attitude even in the most difficult circumstances. While naked, beaten and in prison he sang praises to God. This is the same Paul who was once called Saul…rich and on top of life, a real “head hauncho” responsible for killing, torturing, and imprisoning Christians.

I often wonder…when Saul became Paul and was on the “victim” side of things, having the same things done to him as he had done to others….what must have gone through his mind? How many different ways did it impact him?

I love the things he learned in life. One very important lesson is expressed in Philippians 4:10-13, “I rejoiced greatly in the Lord that at last you renewed your concern for me. Indeed, you were concerned, but you had no opportunity to show it. I am not saying this because I am in need, for I have learned to be content whatever the circumstances. I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty. I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want. I can do all this through him who gives me strength.” Paul was actually in prison writing letters of encouragement to others and giving people the “benefit of the doubt.”

He is a great example….of seizing the moment…realizing he was living Plan A and made the MOST of his circumstances. It tells me a lot about HOW he chose to think…. which gave him contentment. It started in his thoughts and surrendering his thinking to God. He made the most of his circumstances…maximizing his opportunity in writing. Thousands of years later….his words are in the greatest book of all times, the Bible.

He didn’t let his past interfere with his future. He had no bitterness. He dealt with the guilt of past mistakes. He was filled with the Holy Spirit which enabled him to be a leader, even from prison. Today, his attitude…his choices…his life are an example to millions.

I encourage you today….learn from Paul. Don’t let the guilt of past mistakes be a chain around your life.

Invite Jesus into your heart.

Think B-I-G and positive…because you have to think anyway. Allow the God who created you to change your life not just your name (your reputation)…no matter your age…you have a choice. A life. A legacy….Think the biggest…think God…:)

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