Catalytic Moments

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On the night of Thursday, December 16, 1773 the crisis with England came to a head in Boston. Members of a group called “The Sons Of Liberty” disguised themselves as Mohawk Indians. Armed with an assortment of axes, they boarded three ships moored at Griffin’s Wharf, that were carrying tons of British East India Company tea. In a span of three hours, 340 chests of British tea were chopped up and dumped into Boston Harbor. Over 92,000 pounds of tea was destroyed that night. The financial cost to the company was enormous. However, the implications of that single act were far greater. It was a catalytic moment, and few realized it would send a shock wave around the world.

As a direct result of the above action, things continue to escalate, until it erupted into what became the American Revolutionary War. It began on April 19, 1775 in Lexington Massachusetts. Shots rang out across a bridge, as American Patriots stood there ground against the aggression of British troops. The entire conflict, which was sparked in Boston Harbor, happened because of a new tax that amounted to a few pennies. The English had imposed that tax on certain goods imported into this country, and this angered the colonists who lived here. They believed it was unjust to be taxed by a government that did not give them a voice of representation in the making of those laws.

Most people at that time thought the American resistance would be crushed by England within a few weeks. However, after two years of fighting, something amazing happened. From September 19 to October 7 of 1777, the U.S. militia beat the British at the Battle of Saratoga. It was the first great American victory of the war and it surprised everyone. The tenacity of the Americans shocked the world, and this turning point led a few Colonies to triumph over the sprawling empire of Great Britain. The war concluded with the Treaty of Paris, which was signed by both sides in 1783. In that treaty, Great Britain acknowledged American independence, the U.S. northern boundary with Canada was established, and the Mississippi River was set as the U.S. western boundary.

By the time the conflict ended, more than 200,000 U.S. troops had fought the British. It is estimated that over 5,000 American troops died, and over 24,000 British troops had been killed. By the war’s end, a new nation had been birthed through the bloody conflict. In all, a congressional government had formed, the Declaration of Independence had been written, and in 1789, the Bill of rights had been written and ratified. Thus, 13 independent colonies in America had formed into the United States of America. Consider this fact; all this came about simply because of a penny tax, and tea had been thrown into Boston Harbor.

Why do I give this lesson in American history? It’s because this was a catalytic moment, a prophetic spark from world history, that must honestly be considered. A little thing like a one-cent tax, started an eight-year war that ultimately birthed an entire nation! It’s absolutely astounding, when you really think about it. Now consider this; is it possible that the little things, those things that seem so insignificant in your life right now, are actually the seeds of a revolution God is preparing to birth? Are you dealing with a catalytic moment and don’t know it? Who would have believed the Boston Tea Party would be the catalyst that birthed a nation. So the question begs to be asked; do you still believe the annoyances of daily living are so insignificant that you can continue ignoring them?

Perhaps it is time to reconsider the little events, the seemingly unimportant people or irrelevant issues that are now an irritation in your life. You know, those things you have failed to deal with, and those people you don’t have time for, but they keep showing up. You have been too busy, or too distracted, and these seem so inconsequential to the big picture you are going for. You will get to them in time…..but now is just not the right time. Oh really? Let me suggest to you that now IS the moment to begin to make time, because one of these insignificant things might very well be your Boston Tea Party.

Just like the British, you also don’t know how important one thing can be to your future, because you are so enmeshed in the present. Like them, you will know in time, but by then your ability to shape it and benefit from it, will be long gone, and out of your control. Your destiny will be, for all practical purposes, in the hands of others. Why? Because you did not recognize a catalytic moment, and you let the tyranny of today’s demands dictate your actions, and rob you of your future.

Perhaps it is time to step back, relax and look things over. Why not calmly consider what the future holds for you if you continue on your present path. Then think about what it might look like, if you begin to recognize your catalytic moments, and more importantly, you recognize the people who are part of it. Only you can make this a life priority, so don’t put it off any longer. Consider this important fact, the truth is your future is what hangs in the balance!

A Stone On Your Head

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In 1834 the following story was written by English historians who were compiling a review of County Crayke. It is the true account of a gentlemen named Simeon Ellerton.

“Simeon Ellerton died here, Crayke, North Yorkshire, England, January 3, 1799, at the advanced age of 104. He was a noted pedestrian, and was often employed by gentlemen in the neighborhood on commissions to London and other places, which he always executed on foot, with fidelity and diligence. He lived in a neat stone cottage of his own building; and what was remarkable, he had literally carried it upon his head!

It being his practice to bring home from every journey the proper stone he could pick up on the road, and place it on his head, until he had accumulated a sufficient quantity to erect his habitation, by which time, although the motive had ceased, this practice had grown so much into a habit, that he imagined he could travel the better for having a weight upon his head and he seldom came home without some loading. If any person inquired his reason, he used facetiously to answer, ‘’Tis to keep on my hat’.”

The article went on to say that local residents all thought he was a “curious fellow”, a bit touched in the head, or at the very least, a bit eccentric. Because of his practice, the term “rocks on your head” began to be used to describe anyone who acted out of the norm, or had behavior considered a bit strange. What is fascinating, is that the term is still in use today. It has come down to us in the form of “rocks in your head”. Yet the fact is, the man it was intended to mock,  actually lived an honorable life. He was trusted and respected by all who hired him, and lived to the ripe old age of 104, during a time when the average person died before the age of 50. Hardly the life of one who should be mocked!

For me this is such a great story. It demonstrates the value of quiet resolve, personal diligence and clear vision, which are so important if you are going to accomplish anything in life. Let’s face it, few people today would stop to ask why a man was walking the roadside with a rock on his head. Most would assume he was mentally unhinged, or an emotional prisoner to some trauma in life. He would most likely be reported to the authorities and locked in some psychiatric ward. Fewer still would have the diligence, fortitude and patience to carry out a practice everyone questioned. The mockery of others, and the sheer magnitude of the task at hand, would simply wear them out.

There is a powerful lesson to be learned from the humble determination of the man who carried a rock on his head. He is the model for all of us who think outside the box. We all live in a world that tries to conform us to it’s way of doing things. Dress like this, talk like that, think like this and act like so. Drive this car, use this makeup, live in this kind of house and dress in these clothes. Conform, or you are an outcast and will have no work! The point is, most people are nothing more than rats running in a social maze and they are too blind, or too scared, to see things for what they really are.

And so, those of us with a rock on our head, who carry this load along life’s road, are doing so because it secures our future.  We are carrying the stones of a place not yet built, where we will live free, think free and enjoy independence from that which influences and manipulates the rest of the world. Run like mindless lemmings, if you so desire, into the sea that this world offers. But, as for me, I will go against that flow every time, and much prefer to be the odd ball. An outcast in some circles, perhaps, but who cares! While they are running like gerbils on their caged-in treadmills, I am having amazing failures and wonderful adventures in the real world that take my breath away!

I, and those like me, are the curious ones that others wonder about, as we serve God, pray and live biblically principled lives. We gladly walk our road with a rock on our head, knowing that in time we will have a “neat stone cottage” approved by God. It may not be tomorrow, but one stone at a time it will be built. As this world goes it’s merry way, deeper into conformity and sin, laughing, mocking and looking at us with curiosity, we will be building a future that will not be shaken, one stone on our head at a time. My question is, what’s on your head my friend, and what future are you building?  If you don’t like what you see, let me invite you to join us on our journey into the presence of God. You won’t regret it! Now go find a nice stone….. and have a great day!