Reflections on the book God Will Make A Way, Part Three

Principle Two from God Will Make A Way Choose Your Traveling Companions Wisely — reminds us of the importance of the company we keep, whether friends, family, co-workers or acquaintances:

There are many people who want what God has for them, but unfortunately, just like a kid who thinks he doesn’t need a teacher, they fail to take advantage of the gifted, loving and wise people he puts in their path. Part of God’s program to make a way for you is to put good people around you who are gifted to help you get where you need to go. Some of these people will just show up in your life, sent by God at just the right time. Others you have to seek out on your own. Some will be professionals. Others may be neighbors and friends at church.

As the Bible tells us, when we love and support each other, we are actually handing out the resources of God Himself: “Each one should use whatever gift he has received to serve others, faithfully administering God’s grace in its various forms” (1 Peter 4:10). Part of God’s program to “make a way” for you is to put you around good people whom He has gifted with the resources that you need to get to where you need to go.

From my own experience, I can honestly report that in many cases the reason for a friend’s emergence in my life isn’t always clear, at least not immediately. Other times, the reason presented itself from the start. In more instances than I care to remember, the relationships ended for no discernible reason.

For example, about two years ago a very dear friend I’d known since high school suddenly disappeared from life. She’d stopped calling and/or returning my phone calls and emailing soon after becoming engaged, as if she longer needed or wanted my friendship.

This friend and I had much in common (shared Catholic faith, traditional values and a love of culture) and had spent many years swapping bad date stories and commiserating over being single. When she finally reconnected with an old friend, which sparked a new romance and ultimate commitment, I was beyond thrilled for her. I congratulated her over the phone and sent her a lovely Hallmark card as did my parents, who always held her in high esteem.

Based on the duration and closeness of our relationship (in spite of living 1200 miles apart), which over the years included hiring her to sing at my parents’ 50th anniversary party, dinners with her parents at my family’s home and supporting her through the tragic death of her brother many years ago, we expected to be invited not only to the wedding, but also to any bridal showers and other pre-wedding gatherings.

But the invitations never came, nor did the courtesy of a phone call.

To this day, I have no idea what happened, but I’ve since let it go with lots of prayer and forgiveness exercises. I am not sure if I did something that hurt her but in my prayers I affirm her forgiveness, offer my own and then bless her and her marriage.

So what was her purpose in my life, and vice-versa?

The answer to that is admittedly murky, but I trust God had a plan all along. It’s never easy when friendships mysteriously end; I’d prefer to have a solid reason, such as a knock-down, drag-out fight that damages the relationship beyond repair. As unpleasant as that would be, at least it would provide a plausible explanation.

But as with all things, the best we can do is try to make amends in person but if that’s impossible we need to create that closure through prayer, trusting that God knows what’s best.

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A Review of Beauty and the Beast

Although I’ve been a fan of Disney’s original animated film version of Beauty and the Beast since its debut in 1991, and the original Broadway soundtrack from its theatrical incarnation back in 1994 (featuring Happy Days actor Tom Bosley as Belle’s father Maurice), it wasn’t until the other day that I finally had the pleasure of experiencing this wonderfully romantic and enchanting musical live on stage.

As part of my mom’s special birthday celebration, she and I attended a performance at the lovely DuPont Theatre in Wilmington Delaware — and what a perfect day it was! After enjoying the sumptuous buffet in the Hotel DuPont’s elegant Green Room, we settled into balcony seating to enjoy the performance presented by the original creators of the Broadway production.

Directed by Rob Roth and choreographed by Matt WestBeauty and the Beast features Dane Agostinis as the Beast, Emily Behny as Belle, Logan Denninghoff as Gaston, Christopher Spencer as Maurice, Michael Haller as Lumiere, Benjamin Lovell as Cogsworth and Julia Louise Hosack as Mrs. Potts (for a full cast list, click here).

Agostinis turns in a soulful, heart-wrenching rendition as the tormented, misunderstood Beast. Once a spoiled, selfish and handsome prince, he’d learned the error of his ways, thanks to a powerful spell enacted upon him by an enchantress who’d disguised herself as an old, haggard homeless woman — in reaction to his refusal to offer her shelter on a cold, stormy night. Having fallen into despair of ever retrieving his human form, the Beast finds unexpected hope in Belle, after she comes to her father’s rescue and ends up taking his place as the Beast’s prisoner.

Emily Behny as Belle with Dane Agostinis as Beast.

Unlike the animated film version, the stage version of Beauty and the Beast offers a glimpse into the soul of this main character through the powerful ballads, If I Can’t Love Her and How Long Must This Go On — two very welcome additions to the soundtrack, which add a layer of depth and richness to this beloved tale.

As for Emily Behny’s Belle, she is a delightful, endearing character whose infectious charm and melodious voice perfectly convey her character’s poise, intelligence and longing for something more than small-town life.

Logan Denninghoff’s portrayal of Gaston remains true to the character’s egotistical, burly and boorish make-up — adding a dose of humor, womanizing and trouble to the story.
One interesting observation: Although the original Broadway version included a sweet duet between Belle and her father Maurice called No Matter What, it was not part of this latest incarnation of the musical. Too bad, because it truly is a lovely ballad that captures the essence of the close relationship Belle shares with her father.
Aside from that minor criticism however, I have only high praise for the efforts of cast and crew. From the professional sets to the talented actors, it captivated us for the entire 2 1/2 hours — which alas, flew by way too quickly.

If possible, I highly recommend taking the family to experience the magic of Beauty and the Beast on stage. Click here for more information on the tour’s next stops, which include Akron, Morgantown and Charleston.

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Reflections on the book God Will Make A Way, Part Two

As I mentioned in Part One, I will be featuring a different principle from the book God Will Make A Way as part of a weekly feature over the next several weeks. In that first post, I introduced this excellent book by Dr. Henry Cloud and Dr. John Townsend, noting that I am still working my way through it — not because it isn’t a wonderful read, but because my time these days is quite limited.

However, by making it part of my weekly reflection for the WLH site, I’ve also made a commitment to finish the book but in such a way that I actually take the time to fully absorb and accept each of its concepts. I hope you will find this journey helpful as well, whether or not you’ve already read the book or plan to obtain a copy soon.

Principle One: Begin Your Journey With God

We begin to find our way when we realize that we are not God. We are not limitless. We do not have all the answers, because we did not make ourselves or life itself. So the fact that we do not know it all and are not able to figure it all out is okay. Second, since God made us, He wants to show each one of us how to live the life He’s given us.

Do you believe this to be true? He is your Shepherd. Life is His pasture, and He will guide you through it.

He will show you the way. Indeed, He will actually make a way, wherever you find yourself.
Begin your journey with the first step of realizing that since you are not God, you are naturally going to run into the limits of your finite abilities to solve your problems or create the life you desire. And since He is God, and He wants to be your Shepherd, you have the opportunity to live life in a relationship with the One who designed you and your life, and therefore knows best how you can live it. That is the first step to finding out how God can make a way for you.

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Reflections on the book God Will Make A Way, Part One

A very dear friend of mine ordered and mailed a copy of the above-referenced book to me the other day, knowing it was exactly what I needed during a very tumultuous and difficult time. Although I must admit on the inside I initially balked at the lovely gesture — having been struggling with matters of faith and the purpose of life — I am so thankful not only for the wisdom contained in this book, but for the thoughtfulness of a true friend whom I’ve come to regard in the few short years I’ve known him as a brother.

I began God Will Make A Way as more of a matter of obligation to my friend’s generosity than as a genuine desire to read yet again another spiritual book about how God has everything under control and we as humans just need to — as the trite expression says — “Let go, and let God”. Been there, done that, thank you very much. In fact, as much as I’ve loved books and courses like the 5 Gifts for an Abundant Life, lately I have to confess to copping a serious attitude for this kind of spiritual guidance.

Hadn’t I been practicing these techniques and prayers for years? Didn’t seem to be working out so well for me.

But as I began to read the pages of this new (to me, anyway, though it was published in 2002) book by Dr. Henry Cloud and Dr. John Townsend, I started to realize it was actually speaking to me in a way no other had before.

Since I am only about midway through, I will share a bit more each week of the good doctors’ words of wisdom, but one of the things I like most is that Cloud and Townsend separated their book into two parts — The Principles of the Way and The Principles at Work. So they begin by clearly defining the eight principles and then describing the ways in which we can transform them into practical use for everyday life. For any problems or obstacles we may find ourselves confronting, whether a challenging health issue, a desire to be something greater or a longing for loving, faithful relationship and marriage.

Perhaps unsurprisingly, the first principle is: Begin Your Journey With God.

Here Dr. Cloud assures us:

“Faith, trust and belief are not just exercises of positive thinking. They involve a relationship with a very real person who knows the way for us to live and who promises to lead us in it.”

He also draws a distinction between merely having amorphous belief in “something” and belief in God. As he says:

“It is not that belief will make a way. It is that God will make a way.”

That is a principle I am meditating on this entire week as I navigate through the changes and write a new chapter in this journey.

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