“He who works his land will be satisfied, but the one that chases fantasies lacks understanding.” – Proverbs 12:11
Captain Tom Moore
As stories continue to emerge regarding the efforts many are taking to help during this crisis, one has stood out to me. In April, the Washington Post featured the story of Captain Tom Moore of Britain. He recently celebrated his 100th birthday on April 30th. But before his birthday, he decided to do 100 laps around his home garden to raise money for the underfunded National Health Service. As a World War II veteran, he is no stranger to crisis and stepping up to meet challenges head-on. He planned to raise 1,000 pounds, equivalent to $1,250. By the time his walking goal was complete, he had raised an astonishing $15 million! By the time it was all said and done, the Captain, who was labeled as a “one-man fundraising machine” by Prince William, had raised a whopping $33 million. His goal multiplied monetarily from its initial number as people caught wind of what he was doing and donated money to support him. Captain Tom is a prime example of someone who chose to work his land.
At his age and as a veteran, Captain Tom had the permission to sit back and finish the rest of his life; in ease, nobody would have expected him to do anything more after his exemplary military service. He could have decided that because there is more time behind him, than ahead of him why bother doing anything. But Capt, Moore would have none of that. With a walker to support him, Captain Tom did what he could with what he had to make a difference in the world in which he is living. And the world we are in right now is a big sugar cookie.
Our Sugar Cookie Reality
In his best-seller, Make Your Bed, Admiral William McRaven uses his military experiences to relay essential life skills. One of the memorable chapters of the book conveys the often difficult message to accept that life is not fair, and it can make you a sugar cookie at any time. In the Navy SEAL training school, Admiral McRaven said that nothing was more painful, uncomfortable, and exhausting than being made a sugar cookie. He described a sugar cookie as falling “face down into the soft sand and rolling from side to side to ensure that no part of my uniform was left uncovered. Then, for good measure, I sat up, reached deep into the ground, and tossed sand into the air to guarantee it found its way into every crevice in my body.” If you’ve ever gone to the beach and had sand stick to you, you can relate to the discomfort. The sugar cookie command came at the whim of the instructor and was meant to express the idea that “life is not fair, and the sooner you learn that, the better you will be” according to his instructor at SEAL training. Nobody deserves the outcome of this crisis. The losses in terms of lives and jobs are disheartening. Why it has happened to some and not others is beyond my comprehension. There is also a loss of confidence, hope, and normalcy. The best thing we can do now when life becomes a sugar cookie is to do what Captain Moore did and work your land.
What’s In Front of You?
Your land, according to author and pastor, Tim Storey, represents what is in front of you right now. No matter how small. Everyone, despite age or state has the opportunity to work their land even in these times. To work our land, we must first build intentionality into our lives in the face of fear, anxiety, and worry. But intentionality can ebb as the discomfort of life expands. Being intentional today is becoming aware of what’s left regardless of what’s been lost. I am sure that Captain Moore has experienced plenty of loss over his 100 years on this earth. But he still used what he had left (the ability to walk using a walker) and with intentionality worked (or walked) his land. Working my land right now is one moment working on a project for work, and the next moment, I am down on the floor, teaching Esther, our four-year-old, reading, writing, math, or doing a science experiment.
In addition to intentionality, we must also apply belief to our reality, if we are to work our land. In an interview with Sky News Australia, Captain Moore referred back to his wartime days:
“I’ve always believed that things will get better… Remember, in wartime, things were bad but, eventually, they seemed to get better. We fought on, and we won.” The less we believe that it will get better, the less strength we apply to fight for it. Even at 100 years old, Captain Moore is still fighting on because he believes the battle against this crisis is winnable. Working your land is how you fight on. Engaging in the fight has taken different shapes and forms. For some, the fight has been being brave enough to work on the front lines of the crisis in small and big ways. For others, our contribution to the fight has been by staying home as much as we can and social distancing as we fight to flatten the curve. And yet for others, they have fought by volunteering to be part of the human trial phase for the vaccine. We are all fighting or working our land in different ways because we believe that what’s next is better than what’s now.
Finally, working your land involves practicality. Practicality has to do with what is suitable for use in the current circumstance. Going back to the vaccine, there are several vaccines being developed right now. But any vaccine produced requires practicality before being administered on a large scale. Hence the importance of the human trial phase. The opposite of practical thinking is wishful thinking. And fantasies are the by-product. Wishful thinking always begins with, “I wish _______” or “If only _______.” While this kind of thinking can be very appealing, its dangers are for more reaching. Where fantasies abound, nothing changes. Diminished mental energy, delusion, and stagnation in life are tall tale signs of this dangerous mindset. What is practical for you right now? Act on it. No matter how simple. For Captain Moore, it was walking laps in his garden.
Final thought: Nobody signed up for where we are in life today. It might be hard to wake up on some days because hope seems all but lost. But I want to encourage you to step into your day and work your land with intentionality, believing that things will get better and applying practicality. It’s never too soon and never too late.
Keep on Keeping on!