Dante Gabriel Rossetti a poet and an artist was once approached by an elderly man. The elderly man approached him to show him some of his works of art, for the great artist to make a few comments about their value and viability. The story says, that when Rossetti saw the works of art, he could not conceal his assessment of the fact that they were useless. Being a kind man however, he did not make fun of it, he simply explained to him, that he could not lie to him and felt that the works of art were of little or no value. The elderly man as you would guess, was disappointed, but the didn’t let it shake him too much. Before turning around to leave, he asked the great artist for an opportunity to get his remarks on the works of art of a student of his. The artist obliged him, and the elderly man presented the works to him. The eyes of the artist lit up!
Dante Rossetti, was impressed with the works of art, and generously poured accolades on it. In fact, he told the elderly man to ensure that he did whatever he could to encourage the student. From what he could see, he really has real talent and something unique. Contrary to Rossetti’s expectations that the old man would feel hurt that his student had potentials to be greater, the old man seemed visibly moved, emotionally so! “Is that your son, the great artist asked?” Seeing that there must be some connection. The elderly man responded, “no, it’s not my son, that was me 40yrs ago, I only wished I had heard what you just told me now then, I would have been encouraged to paint.”
Forty years from now, we will no longer fit into the classification of young. We would have had our great years of youth and energy behind us. Right now, we can still say that our best years are ahead of us, we’ll probably still say the same then, but we would not have 40yrs anymore. Our plans will be short and focused, our needs smaller and different, our priorities would have been altered by time, by stage, by what time we have left. Even God says honor the lord in the days of your youth.
“Honor and enjoy your Creator while you’re still young, before the years take their toll and your vigor wanes, before your vision dims and the world blurs and the winter years keep you close to the fire. In old age, your body no longer serves you so well. Muscles slacken, grip weakens, joints stiffen. The shades are pulled down on the world. You can’t come and go at will. Things grind to a halt. The hum of the household fades away. You are wakened now by bird-song. Hikes to the mountains are a thing of the past. Even a stroll down the road has its terrors. Your hair turns apple-blossom white, adorning a fragile and impotent match stick body. Yes, you’re well on your way to eternal rest, while your friends make plans for your funeral.” -Ecclesiastes 12: 1-5
Those days are sure to come, but the best preparation we can make for those days, is now. The time to hear the words of the great encouragers is now! The time to venture, to try out your skills, to hone your talent, to express your gift, is now! Not tomorrow, tomorrow is late! Now in this moment of time, you are creating your next moment. Yesterday is gone, tomorrow is not yours, the only time you have to use, is today!
My heart sobs for the elderly man. 40yrs ago, his works could have ended up a masterpiece, 40yrs ago he had the makings, 40yrs ago, all he needed to alter in his routine was what he prioritized. All he needed to hear was encouragement to go on. All he needed was insight into the fact that what he had was real, different and good. How many of us have what it takes, but have been so afraid of criticism that we have not brought it before those who can help assess it? How many musical talents are rotting because those who they presented their ideas before were unqualified to assess it? How many teachers are running from teaching because they believe that they deserve to be better paid? How much of life’s purposes and God ordained vocations are being sacrificed on the altars of – “I didn’t know”, “I wasn’t told”, “I was misinformed”. Quit claiming the promises and standing in the premises, take the promises and go, go, go!
The Almighty has graciously blessed us all with a starting point. There is none alive who doesn’t have something. In the parable of talents, the talent signifies a starting point. Everybody has a starting point. It could be a skill, a little money, a relationship, a degree, an exposure, an experience. Whatever it is, where you are, is the best place to be for your next step. To advance in life however, we must be willing to engage what we have. To engage in this sense means to lose it, to give it out, to offer it for criticism, to offer it for service, to offer it and take the risk of losing it, to make it available to beyond yourself. To live the life of your dreams, you must stretch out and live beyond the reach of fear.
Don’t live your life like a caged pet. Live your life fully! Honor and obey God, yes, outside of that, there is a lot of room to be the fullest we were created to be. Quit worrying about what people will say about you. Wake up and smell the coffee, people are not thinking about you. They are thinking about themselves. People are more bothered wondering what you will say about them than what they said about you. No matter how you try, you will never please everybody – to try is to plan to fail. Ask yourself a few fundamental questions – Do you enjoy doing this? Is it in the pathway of adding tangible and memorable value? Do you have raw talent for it that can be developed into skills by practice? Go for it! Don’t wait for 40ys to discover that you might have been the best. Exhaust the possibility now. I’ll rather venture and fail, than keep looking back all my life wondering if my life would have been better. Take responsibility for your life, now!
Stop procrastinating – act! Stop dreaming – live! Stop wishing – plan!, Stop worrying – move! Let’s look back in time and have exciting stories of our adventures, our failures and our successes. Let’s make our footprints, not on sand, where they can be washed away, but on stone and on gold. Let’s live heartily and with passion, not boringly for mere sustenance. Let’s dream big dreams and dare great things! Let’s start NOW!