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I think about that quote by John Maxwell almost everyday. I first heard him say it a few years back when the staff at the home for needy children here in Oaxaca, Mexico, would meet once a month to watch leadership videos. Usually I didn’t take notes at these video presentations, but John Maxwell was a quote machine, and I couldn’t stop my note taking. Now, I don’t remember most of his quotes, but this one has stayed with me-

Anything worthwhile is uphill.”

I think of it almost everyday, because I experience it almost everyday. I am the gardener here at the mission, and it’s not an easy job, especially with all the rain that we have received lately. We have about 8 acres of land, that for the last 16 years I have been trying to convert to a garden. Mostly by myself, although I am extremely grateful for the help that visiting groups from the U.S. and Canada have given me over the years, as well as the help I occasionally receive from the teen boys who live here.

I believe that God loves us and enables us to thrive and relish life most by investing our lives in Making Beauty, Doing Good and Living Truth. For me, Making Beauty consists of digging out thorn bushes with five foot roots; cutting down weeds that are taller than I am; fighting ants that can eat every leaf off a bush or tree overnight; mowing and weed-whacking grass that seems to grow twice as fast as I can cut it; and dealing with children who think it great fun to beat rose bushes and geraniums to smithereens. I have to constantly remind myself that “anything worthwhile is uphill!”

For me, Doing Good means helping the children here at the mission in a dozen different ways, from driving them to school, to assisting my wife in the nursery with the toddlers, to going into town and buying food and supplies.

For me, Living Truth means primarily reading, studying and meditating on the Bible, then sharing the Truth with my family, the Mission and the men at the rehabilitation center.

As I have been pondering the notion that “anything worthwhile is uphill“, I have also come to the realization that the reverse (or other side of the tortilla, as my Mexican wife would say) is also true. In other words, “anything not worthwhile is downhill.”

It is possible for us to waste a lot of time and forfeit the flourishing that God intends for us by doing things that are easy, entertaining, and fun, but that make no positive lasting impact on our lives or our world. Things that do not make the world a more beautiful place, or do good to anyone, or share gospel truth. I think of things like streaming Netflix series, watching sports, obsessing about politics and news, or twitter feeds, Instagram pics and Facebook, just to name a few.

When I look back on my life when I lived in the United States, I realize that I wasted a lot of time on worthless things; some of the things I mentioned above. I could have been Making Beauty and Doing Good and sharing Truth, but instead I delighted on the “downhill” things of life that brought me pleasure, but didn’t result in the betterment of my life or anyone elses life.

So, now I spend my days trudging uphill, Making Beauty, Doing Good, Living Truth-shunning most of the “downhill” distractions like social media, sports broadcasts, tv series, movies and the news, and I couldn’t be happier. Can you believe it? You could if you tried it.

“Let us not grow weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up.” Galatians 6:9

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