The fifth card
A bit under the weather recently, I watched more than my normal share of television. My usual TV schedule starts with the evening news. Although I am not too crazy about the format, it keeps me informed.
I don’t like it when anchors editorialize. To my mind, they are readers of the news, very good ones, I must add. But to give an opinion or taint the news with a vocal or visual innuendo is foul. There is a time and place for an editorial.
These days, I tune in at 6:30 p.m. I agonize over any obvious bias and try not to watch every sordid bloody detail. Without looking at the images, I can figure out the difference between a shoot-out and a rub-out, while I try to enjoy an early solo dinner in my casita by the pool. On very hot days I imagine how nice it would be to just jump in.
Okay, my jumping-in days are over. One of these days I may ask my landlord to put railings to help me in and out of the water. The designer insists these went out with pool gutters.
The children and I have thought of several innovative (and hysterically funny) ways that will get me in and out without looking like a beached whale. Any ideas?
What else is on television you ask? They’re baaaack!
Campaign commercials are on full blast and, in my opinion, just a tad short of revolting. Faces I thought were gone forever are here again. The same pasted-on plastic smiles have returned. Watch how they shake hands while they look elsewhere. Listen to their tacky slogans. If I get lucky and my plans don’t miscarry, I will miss the circus. I have a trip coming up. Take me away, please.
On the lighter side of the news, I watched the recent Golden Globe Awards.
I marvel at how articulate Hollywood stars are in their acceptance speeches. This year, the inimitable Jodie Foster was honored for lifetime achievement and Daniel Day Lewis, chosen Best Actor for his portrayal of “Lincoln.”
Both enriched us with their discourse—one a bit cocky but daring, tough and tender, honest and in your face but never blatant; the other one eloquent, oozing with class, and fraught with humility of the noblest kind.
And on the much smaller screen of my laptop, I found a priceless video. It is difficult to describe a scene that has so impressed itself on my mind and in my heart. Allow me to try.
Oprah Winfrey had Rick Warren as her guest on LifeClass. Warren, as you know, is the author of “The Purpose Driven Life,” a 40-day personal spiritual journal, also known as “the blueprint for Christian living in the 21st century.”
This book was on the NY Times bestseller list for advice books for one of the longest times in history. It talks about God’s five purposes for man’s life here on earth, basically answering that almost inane but common question: “Why was I born?”
In Oprah’s show, Rick Warren speaks about life being like a poker hand. Each of us is dealt four cards: our chemistry, connections, circumstances and consciousness.
The fifth card can make or break your entire hand. God gives us this fifth card—the gift of free choice. It is a wild card. It can change the suit, the color and number of the other four. And He asks: “What will you do with what you have been given?”
To illustrate, Oprah shows a video about Nick Vujicic, a man born in Australia, without arms and legs. It tells how Nick turned it all around, and how today he lives a life that could be the envy of even someone completely and perfectly endowed.
After the video, the camera shows Nick in the audience. Nick gets out of his seat and walks (yes, he walks) up to the stage, climbs the steps, and speaks about his childhood, his attempt to kill himself, and about his parents he calls his heroes.
“My parents told me, you have a choice to be angry for what you don’t have or thankful for what you do have.”
Let’s not miss this, friends. This statement alone could be our most important life lesson.
To be sure, Nick was dealt a lousy hand. “I thought I had no purpose. I tried to drown myself!” he confessed. But the seeds of love, truth and hope that were planted in him by his parents gave him the courage and the strength to carry on.
What seeds are we sowing in the hearts of our children and grandchildren?
Today, Nick surfs, plays soccer and golf, travels all over the world to spread his message of hope, and recently married the love of his life.
His amazing story stands as a beacon to those “of little faith” who think that all is lost. Listen to what he says and take heart:
“You want to know why I’m happy and content and full of joy? It’s knowing that no matter what five cards come up in my life, as long as that fifth choice is understanding, by faith, that my Heavenly Father owns all the chips in the poker game. So no matter what we have, we’re playing with God’s chips.
“I know that people need hope, and that we’re looking for money, drugs, sex, alcohol, different circumstances, a new relationship, oh if I was just wired differently. Stop looking everywhere, just look up!”
Try to watch the whole episode. Nowhere else will you find anything more uplifting or inspiring. Who knows? It could change your life forever.
(PS: On YouTube, look up Choice Oprah, “You Gonna Shut Your Mouth.”)