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Eric's Sunday Sermon; Striving

Updated on June 21, 2015

Just a gal I met on the street trying to make a living.

She gets up every morning and she tries and there is a spark of life.
She gets up every morning and she tries and there is a spark of life. | Source

A special something

There is a measure of a person that permeates the space that they occupy. It is not what they have or even where they have been. It is not what they have achieved or what they know. It is not about the position they occupy or even their health.

There is a something that is about a person. If we could take out an instrument and measure it we would know much about others. It is illusive. If we could take out our camera and capture it we would have the most revealing of all pictures. But this “thing” we speak of is illusive and defies even a description or definition. Even when we see it in others we may not recognize it for what it is. But in fact it is the first thing we should look for and the final thing to appreciate in another.

We humans are biological creatures. We exist for the most part in the physical. We have our natural senses with which we perceive the world. We experience that which we see, touch, smell, hear and taste and it often stops there.

Celebrate diversity in all its glory. There is much that is different among us. And yet there is a similarity and a sameness, perhaps even a oneness of all mankind. We are told of DNA and fingerprints and that every one of us is different and identifiably unique. There is no arguing this point. We each have our own empirically quantifiable “signature” that is our own.

But let us look at something that is a little less concrete yet makes us all completely different. In examining this quality we can actually see our connection with God. For what we will look at is not something we can truly know.

Music is our trying to connect on a different level, try

Just a root trying to keep the tree alive

The struggle to survive.
The struggle to survive. | Source

When the spark goes out for good.

Sometimes when looking at a very illusive idea it is best to look at what it is not. To rule out the possibilities and find the absence of something is when we can learn much about it. When it is gone we can see the absence more clearly than we can see the presence. In us humans there is one such thing and that is the spark of life. While we wish it on nobody, seeing a person die is a very illuminating experience. The body does not transfigure in the physical. A dead person can look just like a sleeping person. Certainly time will take its toll and soon the blood will not be present in the skin tissue and a pallor sets in and on and on, but we speak here of the moment upon which there is no more life in the body. It looks the same. But not really.

What is missing? Well of course life is missing. It is not a human sense type thing that notices the absence of life. We pick up the absence of life through a something else. The spark is gone. While it is palpable it is not physical. Somehow we sense life. There is some kind of energy that is not perceivable by the senses but is never the less a real presence. For good reason we can understand that concept. Being living creatures we can know where life is present. It just is. It is as though our life energy can connect with another’s life’s energy.

Water always strives to run down hill

Urban beauty stuck away between a freeway and apartments
Urban beauty stuck away between a freeway and apartments | Source

Now onto the child.

Learning for children brings about a certain type of energy. You can quite literally see the learning going on in their eyes, if you look. A quizzical look, of concentration and the process of understanding. This is true whether the endeavor be play, sports or book learning or class room learning. In a classroom full of children you will notice a difference in energy from task to task. The energy is different when they are practicing what they already know from the energy when they are learning something new. The energy changes from play time to singing a song time and from group reading time to clean up time. You can literally see the sparks in their eyes. It changes.

Back to the absence. Perhaps you can remember or perhaps in your adulthood you have witnessed a child that has given up. It is the saddest thing in the world. Thank God that normally in youth it passes as quickly as it set in. 100 times trying. 200? Sometimes a child just cannot master a skill. It is heartbreaking to watch. This becomes especially true when others have mastered it in front of the child. As an aside, I think this is why God gave children short attention spans. More often than not a child will become bored and move on to something else before total discouragement sets in. Normally so will the other children.

But back to that spark. There again in the child’s eyes we can see the spark and energy of trying fade from their eyes. When they are truly beaten the spark goes out. It is a hollow sad and forlorned look.

Enough of this downer talk of the absence of the spark, let us move on to the good stuff.

Catch a painted pony

The spark of learning

I met a very interesting octogenarian the other day. He was most assuredly a man of God. A Christian fellow and extremely learned in the ways of religion and scripture and faith. He definitely had a connection with Jesus. I asked him a few questions and he was sharp with quotations and references and some personal experience thrown in that was entertaining and instructive. The guy had been there and done that and had his answers. But something was missing about him. Being the busy body that I am I asked him “what are you working on now?”. He looked at me and asked what I meant. I responded by saying “what are you learning about now?” He responded by stating that he was too old to learn anything new. In that second I saw what was missing in his eyes. Life! Oh do not get me wrong he was plenty alive in the physical and seemingly healthy. But something in his eyes reminded me of the little boy who had just given up. Truth be told perhaps it was a memory of a time in which I had given up as a child.


How about you?

Is there something in your life that you are striving for today?

See results

Where do we go from here?

Striving!

All of that and I am just getting down to business here. God bless you for your patience in reading thus far.

God wants us to try. Not a try like in a past tense. Not a try like we are accomplishing anything, though we hope we do. Nope God is not worried about our little accomplishments in the day to day. With God there is not even a race to be won. God wants us to tie up our running shoes of life and enter the race every day without eyes on the prize. We are not to “get there”. We must stoke our fires and keep trying to move forward. We must reach down deep inside and keep our spark alive. Believe it or not that spark is a choice.

For those of you who care to follow a thought we go back to our beginning. That which truly makes us different and special in the eyes of our Lord is a life force within us. That life force is most present when we strive. We each try in our own special way. My effort is different than your effort. My overcoming struggles is different than your overcoming. We are blessed with our own little soul print. Perhaps today you can look in other’s eyes and look for that something special and see it and feel it. It is special and it is a connection with God.

Just yesterday I found myself saying to my young son. “I do not care how well you can do it, I care how well you try”. How much more so must our Father in heaven want us to try.

So nowadays in my prayers I do not ask for things for people or even outcomes. I have been down that road so often that I have finally learned that what I can even wish for is far less than what God can make possible. Nowadays I pray for that spark to be present in those I pray for. When we stop trying in our love it begins to die. We must strive. It is in our striving that we allow that spark that God has so freely given to shine its brightest like the light on a hill.

Perhaps now you can understand when I pray for you to have strife.

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    • Ericdierker profile image
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      Eric Dierker 2 years ago from Spring Valley, CA. U.S.A.

      Patricia, I just recently witnessed that vacuous look this year volunteering in my son's pre-kindergarten. Wow! Clearly bad diet, lack of sleep and absent encouragement. The fact they were able to "try" anything in the classroom setting was a miracle. Well we will keep striving by volunteering and hopefully help.

    • pstraubie48 profile image

      Patricia Scott 2 years ago from sunny Florida

      Eric

      I have seen the spark in the eyes of many children and watched it grow or wane. I have also seen the child who came to school with no spark 'find it.' There were some sadly who had so much happening outside of the classroom that their spark was only a flicker.

      Well done...beautifully expressed

      Angels are once again winging their way to you this evening. ps

    • Ericdierker profile image
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      Eric Dierker 2 years ago from Spring Valley, CA. U.S.A.

      Thank you Nadine. I like that perspective. We got things to do!

    • Nadine May profile image

      Nadine May 2 years ago from Cape Town, Western Cape, South Africa

      I loved reading your article, and that each person has a empirically quantifiable “signature” What describes me is that : God has put me on this Earth to do a certain amount of things but I'm so far behind I will Never die!

    • Ericdierker profile image
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      Eric Dierker 2 years ago from Spring Valley, CA. U.S.A.

      Dora thank you for your constant support, I appreciate it. Around here my son and I are either in deep thinking or in deep trouble for just plain being boys -- so we opt out and do thinking when mom is about to come home.

    • Ericdierker profile image
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      Eric Dierker 2 years ago from Spring Valley, CA. U.S.A.

      Bronwen, that is one of those straight forward truths that I just can't avoid. Speaking just for me now, if I am not growing in my relationship with Jesus then I am dying. Sometimes I think that is the answer to the big old question "why are we here?" Thanks for coming by.

    • MsDora profile image

      Dora Weithers 2 years ago from The Caribbean

      Eric, you get deeper and deeper and I', m learning from you. Thanks for the motivation to keep on striving.

    • BlossomSB profile image

      Bronwen Scott-Branagan 2 years ago from Victoria, Australia

      We all strive for goals, be they big or small. If we're not trying and not learning something, preferably about God and our relationship with Him, in the process, we may as well be dead!

    • Ericdierker profile image
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      Eric Dierker 2 years ago from Spring Valley, CA. U.S.A.

      Thank you Harish you provide great direction for further inquiry. We are very fortunate to have found contentment in the striving. There is always something more worth learning.

    • Harishprasad profile image

      Harish Mamgain 2 years ago from India

      Eric, this special sermon reminded me of poor people striving so hard to earn some decent moments of living. I loved the way you took us on a journey of this whole existential play. You are so right, the scene of a departed soul is really enlightening, as it teaches us well to have true appreciation of life. When we appreciate life, we learn the importance of striving. First, we strive hard for our betterment, then we gain wisdom and begin reveling in the wellbeing of others. Perhaps, in this way, the Absolute teaches the way to us : the way to love, the way to light ! A great hub and wonderful writing. Thank you, sir.

    • Ericdierker profile image
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      Eric Dierker 2 years ago from Spring Valley, CA. U.S.A.

      Dana, that is a great observation and I think accurate. How we perceive how others perceive us is a huge factor. We are dealing with that now around here. "What do you think that other people think?" Just recognizing the concept is the first step.

    • Dana Tate profile image

      Dana Tate 2 years ago from LOS ANGELES

      It is indeed sad when the spark goes out of a child's eyes. I remember the first time my cousin played little league baseball and it was his turn to bat. He was so excited and the family was cheering and hollering encouraging him and he didn't hit the ball. He was so disappointed but we downplayed the fact that he didn't hit the ball, telling him that the most famous baseball players didn't hit the ball on every try. Then we praised him for every ball he caught- Every base he stole- we went on and on even calling up and bragging to other family members and friends about how good he was. Unfortunately, we cannot always do this for our kids- they will find out this world can be a cold place. I said all that to say- I think a lot of the spark goes away when we feel we need to take on all these personalities to adapt in a world we feel will not appreciate our authentic selves.

    • Ericdierker profile image
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      Eric Dierker 2 years ago from Spring Valley, CA. U.S.A.

      Thank you Bill, inspiration is what gets us trying and you inspire many. Well done.

    • billybuc profile image

      Bill Holland 2 years ago from Olympia, WA

      Your unique perspectives are always fascinating reads. You have given me food for thought this Monday morning and for that I say thank you.

    • Ericdierker profile image
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      Eric Dierker 2 years ago from Spring Valley, CA. U.S.A.

      Thank you Faith. It is a great way to start a new week with such an upbeat and inspiring comment. I will do my best to pass it on to others today. Have a great week.

    • Faith Reaper profile image

      Faith Reaper 2 years ago from southern USA

      Bless you dear Eric, and Happy Daddy's Day to you, dear heart!

      Yes, I have seen those eyes you speak of without that spark, and it does sadden me. Oh, I cannot imagine ever to stop learning in this life. There's is always something new to learn and love about this life here and about each other.

      I love this beautiful and inspirational message here for all to continue to allow their light (spark) to so shine before men ...

      I just know your spark will always be evident no matter where this life takes you. Thank you for being you, a loving and genuine man.

      Up ++++ tweeting, pinning, G+ and sharing

      Hugs, love, peace and continue blessings to you and yours always

    • Ericdierker profile image
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      Eric Dierker 2 years ago from Spring Valley, CA. U.S.A.

      Whonu I think you nailed a very important fact. It is up to us to keep the fire burning in young people. At least I see that as the most important function as a father. All else will fall into place if we just do not give up trying.

    • Ericdierker profile image
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      Eric Dierker 2 years ago from Spring Valley, CA. U.S.A.

      Serenity you are so right. That spirit that comes out when we give it a try is a beautiful thing and a joy to behold.

    • Ericdierker profile image
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      Eric Dierker 2 years ago from Spring Valley, CA. U.S.A.

      Hi Ed and thank you. Around here we need a little less spark and a lot more obedience. And I would not have it any other way. Long live the children!

    • whonunuwho profile image

      whonunuwho 2 years ago from United States

      Sometimes it is up to us as teachers. parents, and concerned adults to jump start our children's learning and boost confidence they find within themselves. A very nice message my friend. Keep on trucking. whonu

    • serenityjmiller profile image

      Serenity Miller 2 years ago from Brookings, SD

      Thank you for sharing, Eric. It's not our good work that saves us, but oh, what a beautiful thing it can be when we're trying to do a good work. Sometimes, it's the trying itself that is something beautiful, in a world so often marked by indifference and apathy. Thanks again for today's good thoughts.

    • ahorseback profile image

      ahorseback 2 years ago

      That spark is very, very important Eric , The tragedy IS when a child loses sight of just that . I suppose in us older people it can be more understandable yet still a negative sign . May the children always find spark ! ++++++++++.........:-]