This month we celebrated Beth's (my daughter, pictured above with brother John) 37th birthday. It was a joyous event, in large part due to the fact that Beth loves birthday parties. She loves seeing her friends and family. She loves the atmosphere of special events; and people love being around her because she is a special person. Beth is special in many ways: she has a delightful (bubbly) personality; she has a wonderful sense of humor, and she has numerous special needs, many of which she has risen above.
In light of the recent passing of Billy Graham it is difficult not to share personal thoughts regarding his life and ministry. I had the privilege of hearing him "live" on two occasions: The first was when I was in college and he was the featured spearer at Expo 72 in Dallas Texas. I had only been a Christian for a couple of years and hearing him speak to 40,000+ college students in the Cotton Bowl was an incredible experience. The second time I heard him was in Oklahoma City, some 25 years after the Expo event, at what many thought may be his last public rally. It wasn't, but the experience of hearing him twice, with a 25 year span between events, brought home for me the challenge of perseverance and faithfulness. Billy Graham's message and life rang true across the years.
Though I didn't know it when I first heard him, I now realize that Billy Graham was a solution focused preacher. He proclaimed that we do not have to be bound by our old life of sin but that we can find a whole new life and future through faith in Jesus Christ. In a day when segregation was a way of life, Billy insisted on a new future at his events; one where black and white could sit together and hear the Good News of Jesus Christ. Billy, no doubt, wanted us to leave the old ways behind and focus our hearts on the new kingdom Christ would one day bring. Thank God for his life, his example, and his legacy. I can say, along with countless others, that his life and message have been a wonderful part of my journey.
If you start at a point and walk 50 miles in one direction, obviously you will end up at another specific point. But if you start at the same beginning point and alter your direction even by one degree, 50 miles later you will be in an entirely different place. The lesson: small changes in direction over time take us to an entirely different ending.
Many people, especially as we begin a new year, plan to make huge changes in their life. Some of these include: a radically altered diet, an aggressive exercise program, accomplishing monumental new tasks, and possibly even the transformation of one's personality. The problem is, striving for big changes seldom works. But small changes, which are realistic and sustainable, can in time make a huge difference in the quality of our life.
For 2018, what small changes can you make in: your attitude, your spiritual disciplines, your diet, your financial management, your exercise routine? A basic principle of Solution Focused Therapy is that small changes lead to big changes. So as you live into 2018 and consider the "life improvements" you want to take on; Think Small! By the end of the year you may be surprised at where life has taken you.
Dr. Allen Schneider is a United Methodist pastor and a Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist presently serving the Sapulpa and greater Tulsa communities.