Before, During & After

We see ads for all kinds of products these days which show the “Before” picture and, to sell you on their product, they will produce an “After” picture. Don’t you just love them? Some, I am positive, are Photoshoped… just too good to be true. Many make the “Before” picture so noticeably unattractive that the “After” picture doesn’t have to produce much of a difference to look better. Some of these ads are actually spot-on in their presentation of the before condition and the after results.

The one thing they usually miss is the “During” part which is, in most cases, tough, rough and hard-fought – if you are going to get the promised results. The commercials that really get me are the ones who promise you are going to look like the guy on the right (above) with just taking some kind of magical natural herb… found only in the jungles of the Amazon by this one doctor who has been searching for the Fountain of Youth all his life. Now he has found it… and it can change your life for only four payments of $29.95. Many promise great result with little to no effort… and folks – we all know it ain’t going to happen… But we send in the money… we take the pills… we do their thing… and nothing happens. I wonder why?

In real life there is a before picture of us… and an after picture – what we have become. But often we are so caught up in the before and after that we fail to be in the “During.” I had a friend – a colleague – Reverend Eddie Black who use to tell the story of how people saw different preachers. Early on in his ministry people would say: “I bet you are going to be a great preacher one of these days?” When we are retiring they say: “I bet you use to be a good preacher.” He said: “I either use to be or are going to be, but never do I hear you are a good preacher now… never do I hear them talk about the present moment – the “During.” Truth of the matter is that to be a good preacher requires a great deal of study, preparation, self-evaluation, self-correction, and a ton of mercy and grace. In the Methodist Church our vows of ordination asks “Are you going on to perfection?” That kinda means I am going to work at growing in the grace and knowledge of Jesus Christ….

There is no magic potion, no talisman which casts some spell over our path and propels us to the after picture with no effort from us. I have a lot of health problems which are very serious. One requires that I eat less than one gram (changed today to 1/2 gram) of sodium per day to keep me from retaining fluid which affects my heart, liver, and kidneys… Plus eat less that 1,200 calories per day to ensure that I lose weight. I have heard all the commercials about weight loss and have determined that it all comes down to seizing the day (today) and do the tough, rough, hard-fight in the “during” stage while you still have the opportunity. Yes, I have to give up some things I really enjoy… but the benefits greatly outweigh doing the magical erroneous quick fix things right now.

We could apply this to almost any situation we face… the during is going to be tough… much tougher than the magic pill. Put your heart, energy and wisdom into your “During” moments and you just may see a much better real “after” picture.

Grace and Peace

Steve

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