Guest editorial: April 6, 2016

Published 8:00 pm Saturday, April 9, 2016

What I learend at President Carter’s Sunday school class
What a deeply inspiring team are the Carters.
After recently taking my daughter to meet President Carter and his wife Rosalynn I wrote him a quick thank you letter. So he personally invited us to come back again!
The second time I took my son and my daughter’s friend.
While the following is not exactly what he said, this is what I got out of it.
Just for a moment imagine a new reordering of priorities.
If even a tiny fraction of the energy, money, and devotion that we throw at things like a never ending stream of new electronic gadgetry, ever more outrageous entertainment, perpetual wars, and insanely profitable pharmaceuticals were instead channeled to things like clean water and sanitation for the entire world’s population, truly abolishing hunger, disease, and homelessness, and creating peace on earth what a different place our world would look like.
But because of our incessant struggle with faith in God, and because our selfish nature ALWAYS distorts, derails, and leads us down the path of ruin, our suffering marches on unabated.
Sometimes it appears humanity will just have to wait for Almighty God’s return to ever see such dreams become a reality.
But is that entirely true?
Robert F. Kennedy once famously said, “Some people look at things as they are and ask, why? I look at things that never were and ask, why not?”
So let me tell you what I think. I look at all the need in the world around us and ask, what on earth are we waiting for?
Tragically, most of us miss the boat.
Each one of us gets a single shot at this life. Just a few short years in the eternity of time to have a try, with whatever gifts and road blocks we are handed, to make some difference during our brief journey here.
Like President Carter I believe deeply that God is both compassionate and a big fan of second chances.
He sure has given me more than my fair share of them!
I further believe it is God’s will that each and every one of us, in some way, step up to the plate and make an attempt, however slight, to remedy some suffering, somewhere, in this often sickness packed world overflowing with need and pain.
God’s will, or not?
This is the most fundamental, bottom line choice of all life’s many choices.
And while God generously affords us lots of chances, even though we often don’t appreciate or deserve them, an entire life can not be repeated.
Like every individual, each lifetime with all its ups and downs is a completely unique, one of a kind, never to be repeated story. And in a big way we each get to participate in writing our own life’s script.
There never has been, nor will there ever again be another you! Likewise for the sum total of your life.
When it is over, it’s over. Finished forever.
And even a king, a president, or the world’s richest person can not give themselves just one more day.
Now whatever you may think of his presidency, Jimmy Carter and his wife have at least tried to walk the talk by living out a genuine life of service to those less fortunate.
This is more than most of the rich and powerful do. Far more.
So when do we start making the world a better place? And where do we begin?
That’s simple.
Now is the only time anyone of us ever has. And everyone you meet has some unmet need. Now and Everyone.
Mother Theresa demonstrated this nicely by cheerfully serving the destitute of Calcutta’s Ghettos, the lowest of the low, the “untouchables” who she dedicated her life to. She said she saw in each and every person she bumped into, “Christ in His Distressing Disguise.” Her stated goal in life? To be “God’s pencil.”
Wow! Now that is profound.
Yes, now is the time to step into the bright light of faith by confidently marching forward in spite of vast oceans of doubt and darkness, in spite of overwhelming hopelessness, and in spite of mountains of seemingly insurmountable obstacles.
So like Mother Theresa and like President and Rosalynn Carter we do good, not for reward.
Not so others can see us do good.
Not even entirely for the recipient of our kindness and generosity.
We do good for God.
Because in a sense everyone we meet is God. A life of service is His plan for humanity. And at bottom it is truly the remedy for our own woes.
So let us stay determined to mold America, this remarkable, astonishing land of abundant resources and opportunities, into the beacon light of hope that God intended us to be.
Step one, we take that glorious leap of faith, even when we cannot always immediately “see” why.
We do this in other areas of life all the time. For example, when embarking on a road trip from where I live in Florida to New York City I can not actually “see” the Statue of Liberty from my starting point in Jacksonville. But as long as I stay on the road heading north (Interstate 95), sooner or later I will see it, because it’s up there!
Next, we put wings on our faith by adding a hefty dose of determined and sustained action.
This two part faith-action mix is the winning combination of all life that enables us fallen types to rise to stratospheric, unimaginable heights far exceeding even our wildest dreams.
And surprisingly, it is the basis of science too. Every accomplishment, every endeavor, every discovery first started off as a seed, an idea in some person’s head.
Scientific discoveries and inventions enter the realm of our reality because someone first believed it may be possible or it could be accomplished (faith).
They then proceeded to take steps to prove or disprove their belief in a particular possibility or to breathe life into their belief by creating a new invention (action).
This is what got us to the moon. And it will one day take us far beyond that.
But at bottom everything boils down to a question of choices and priorities.
So what do you most want to accomplish during your time here? It’s your life and your script. What do you want it to say? What do you want to be remembered for?
I think President Carter wants the message of his life to say let us never cease living our lives first in service to the Creator and next in service to His masterpiece creation — mankind.
I couldn’t agree more.
And when America finally embraces a commitment to this lofty idea our rise will be unstoppable.

James P. Hilton © 2016 All Rights Reserved. Hilton, a paramedic, clinical hypnotherapist, and a black belt in karate, lives in Monticello, Florida.