They must be a close family, I thought, puzzled by their tight seating arrangement. It was a wide beach, and there was plenty of room to spread out their chairs. The sun shone brightly and the temperature hovered around 93 degrees, so I knew they weren’t huddling together for warmth.
Then it dawned on me.
They were sitting closely together because they were sharing the shadow cast by the big beach umbrella over their heads. What had seemed peculiar now made perfect sense.
Farther down the beach I saw another family and another beach umbrella. In contrast to the first family, their umbrella was closed up tightly, sending only the tiniest sliver of relief in their direction. The umbrella wasn’t fulfilling its purpose, and those around it were suffering.
|Winston enjoys our umbrella's shadow.|
Like the two umbrellas on the beach, when we fulfill our purpose by doing the good works God has prepared for us, we impact others, experience joy, and bring God glory.
A wise friend shared how she helps her son make decisions. She asks, “What kind of person do you want to be?” His answer determines his course of action.
This question is one we should ask ourselves every day.
When faced with a choice of whether to sit on the couch and surf the web or clean the house and cook a decent meal for our families, we can ask ourselves, “What kind of person do I want to be?” If the answer is diligent and hardworking, then our course of action is obvious.
When faced with the choice of whether to sleep in and skip morning devotions or rise early and spend time in God’s Word, we can ask ourselves, “What kind of person do I want to be?” If the answer is mature and knowledgeable in my faith, then we set the alarm so we can rise early enough to have our quiet times.
When faced with the choice of whether to say the angry, hurtful words swirling around in our heads or respond constructively, we can ask ourselves, “What kind of person do I want to be?” If the answer is patient, kind, and self-controlled, then we’ll choose to speak words of blessing or simply say nothing at all.
Steven Covey, author of The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People, reminds us, “Sow a thought, reap an action; sow an action, reap a habit; sow a habit, reap a character; sow a character, reap a destiny.”
What kind of person do you want to be?
Like the umbrellas at the beach, each of us is going to cast a shadow of some sort. Will our shadows be marginal and selfish or broad and generous? Will they bless and refresh others or be useless and impotent?
What kind of shadow do you want to cast? The answer will determine what you do next.
“But I discipline my body and bring it into subjection, lest when I have preached to others, I myself should become disqualified.” (1 Cor. 9:27)
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