I want to believe that in heaven there will be Cinnabon cinnamon rolls, which taste exactly the same but are miraculously loaded with vitamins, minerals, and everything good for you, while brussel sprouts will not even make it to heaven because they will be full of trans-fats, carcinogens, and ‘evilness’. Blame it on the episode of Undercover Boss I watched the other day which featured Kat Cole, the young CEO of Cinnabon who has a fascinating story of success that is worth a foray into Google just to check it out.
Throughout the episode she did something I seldom see heads of corporations do; repeatedly expressing her gratitude to the people who recognized and acknowledged her potential, took a chance on her, and did all they could to open up opportunities for her to move up the corporate ladder. Success did not make her forget the people who throughout her career did not see her as a threat, but were secure enough in themselves to give her a hand up.
So today I woke up thinking about heaven and cinnamon rolls, but most importantly feeling the need, once again, to celebrate and emulate people who look back down whatever ladder they have climbed, or are climbing, and give a hand up to those below them. The people who do whatever they can to stop dreams from turning to dust; who are instrumental in moving us from our, “Aha!” moments to the, “I did it!” shout of victory.
In a culture preoccupied with the myth of being entirely self-made, too many stories of success omit or gloss over the credit due to the person or persons who steered us in a direction, made a phone call, wrote a check, or in some other way made the next step toward a personal or professional goal possible. And the highest commendation should go to those who give a hand up with grace and humility, not seeking recognition or glory for themselves, but who find their greatest reward in the act of helping, not in the accolades or benefits they may gain from their actions, immediately or in the future.
Which brings me to a reality TV show at the other end of the spectrum, which I could stand to watch only once, Shark Tank; the most accurate portrayal I have seen to date of corporate abuse and greed, attempting to pass itself off as giving a hand up to struggling entrepreneurs. These multi-millionaires and billionaires offer to risk money they would barely miss, or may write off on their tax return, demand majority share in the fledgling business or outrageous rates of return on their investment, and are rude and insulting in the process. It was heartbreaking to watch that spectacle.
I will be eternally grateful…literally, that God was willing to offer a hand up to the entire human race solely because of His inexplicable, yet unwavering love for us.
“For while we were still weak, at the right time Christ died for the ungodly. Indeed, rarely will anyone die for a righteous person – though perhaps for a good person someone might actually dare to die. But God proves His love for us in that while we still were sinners Christ died for us.” Romans 5:6-8
I know you might have been expecting me to quote John 3:16 for a minute there,
“For God so loved the world that He gave His only son, so that everyone who believes in Him may not perish but have eternal life.” John 3:16
But Paul’s declaration to the church in Rome is a much more powerful reminder that God had everything to lose, and so little to gain, yet His perpetual, pursuing, perfect love, compelled Him to make the greatest sacrifice, to give us a hand up; to change our eternal destiny, and He did it while we were still a hot mess!
There is a scene that comes to my mind, more frequently around the Thanksgiving and Christmas holidays, of a somber meeting between God the Father, Son and Holy Spirit. Humanity, the crown of Their creation, is in a hopeless situation, destined for eternal destruction, most unaware of their fate, and with no way to save themselves.
Love drives the decision of the Godhead to rescue mankind; to give “whosoever will believe” a hand up out of the quicksand of eternal death. The Son would take on human form and be given the name Jesus, (Hebrew for Savior),
“…for He will save His people from their sins.” Matthew 1:21
He would live a perfect life and then die a horrible death in full payment of the penalty for every sin. Standing there, on the edge of eternity and time, clothed in the fullness of His divinity, omnipotent and omniscient, Jesus knew. He knew that in our quest to be gods ourselves, most would reject His sacrifice, use His name as a curse word, and even deny His existence…and… still… He… came; He stepped over the border from eternity into time, arms outstretched, to bring hope to the hopeless.
So here’s the thing,… if life has you barely holding on to hope by your fingernails, have courage and hang in there. Keep your eyes and heart open because help is coming; God always has someone out there willing to be His hands, and able to give you a hand up. And while you are waiting, do not even entertain the temptation to take a hand up from the person holding handcuffs in their other hand; God did not send them, and it will not end well.
Also, regardless of where you are on the climb of life, don’t be so preoccupied with your own journey that you forget the plight of those who are stuck in places where you have already been. Look back once in awhile, and be ready and willing to give a hand up, not for reward or glory, but to celebrate and emulate all the people in your past who have given you hand up, and God Himself will be pleased with you for…just living the thing.