Sam was a very devout man. One day, he found himself caught in a flood. As the water was up to his knees, a neighbor came by in a rowboat and offered him a ride to safety. Sam replied “No thanks. I believe in the Lord and he’ll take care of me.”
The water continued to rise and Sam found himself crawling up a ladder to the roof. As he reached the roof, a Sheriff’s boat came by and offered to take him to safety. But Sam told him “No thanks. I believe in the Lord and he’ll take care of me.”
Soon the sun began to set, darkness was all around, and Sam found himself sitting on the highest point of his roof, his feet in the water. A rescue helicopter came by and lowered a ladder down to Sam. But Sam shouted up “No thanks. I believe in the Lord and he’ll take care of me.”
But the waters kept rising and eventually Sam drowned.
When he got to Heaven, Sam went to God and said “I don’t understand. I have tried to be a devout man. I have believed strongly and prayed constantly. And yet I am dead.”
God replied “I don’t understand either. I sent two boats and a helicopter.”
All too often in our lives, we turn over some very important things to God or fate, believing that we can ignore important things and they’ll be okay. There are many reasons for this. Sometimes, we’re overwhelmed with some aspects of our lives, so we ignore other aspects. Sometimes we’re lazy. Sometimes, there’s just too much stress and we don’t have the energy to handle “one more thing.” Sometimes we’re caught up in making money “today” and don’t plan for tomorrow.
My wife and I recently bought one house and sold another. The details are literally overwhelming. And yet, in just a few weeks we made decisions that involve hundreds of thousands of dollars and a commitment that–at least on paper–will last 30 years! In this situation, we relied on professionals: realtors and lawyers and escrow people who deal with all the paperwork all the time.
Sometimes this delegation of details is appropriate. But the bottom line is that you have to take responsibility for the big picture. As my dear mother used to say . . .
“God helps those who help themselves.“
Where do you turn over your responsibility and let someone or something take control in your life? Here are some danger signs. If you find yourself believing these statements, you have probably abdicated responsibility for some important aspects of your life:
- The government will take care of it. (Alternatively, “The government wouldn’t let them do it if it wasn’t safe.”)
- My husband handles the money.
- My retirement’s all taken care of (I have Worldcom and Enron stock!).
- There’s plenty of time to take care of that . . .
- I’m too young (or old, or tired, or bored) to worry about that . . .
- I don’t need to exercise or watch my diet, I have these pills that take care of my hypertension and diabetes.
- I don’t want to think about dying and wills and probate right now.
What are you putting off that you don’t want to deal with? What parts of your life have you turned over completely to someone else?
This is one of those areas in which people know what they should do and yet refuse to do it. Everyone should have a retirement plan. Social Security and the Superball Lotto are not a retirement plan. Everyone knows they need to take care of their health. But “today” I’m not going to exercise and “today” I’ll get away with the double-mondo grease burger.
A great deal of what we need is simply a matter of taking a little time every day to think. We need to think about our lives. Do we have a plan? (Yes it will change, but any plan is better than no plan.)
You can begin today. Focus on yourself. Take a little time–perhaps 20 minutes a day–to think about where you are and where you’re going. What have you turned over to others? Do you feel in control of everything? If not, what knowledge do you need to feel in control of things?
As with so many things, a daily focus on where you’re going and how to get there will make every aspect of your life more meaningful. Over time you’ll see a unity between who you are and who you’re becoming. You’ll find the “you” dealing with money and the “you” dealing with health and the “you” dealing everything else are all the same person. Your life can be rational and focused and a lot more “in control” if you just spend a little time taking responsibility for where you’re going and how you want to get there.
Don’t say “God will take care of me” and then not pay attention to what’s going on in your life. Instead of two boats and a helicopter, maybe God sent two financial planners and an insurance salesman.