CARPE DIEM - SEIZE THE DAY DON'T LET CONDITIONS AND CIRCUMSTANCES CONTROL YOUR LIFE

Helen Keller (1880 – 1968) was a normal, healthy baby until at the age of 19 months an illness, believed to have been either scarlet fever or a type of meningitis left her both blind and deaf. She became an increasingly violent and uncontrollable child until, at the age of seven, she was placed in the charge of a gifted, compassionate and determined young teacher by the name of Anne Sullivan. Helen Keller, totally unable to either see or hear, would go on to become one of the most famous and productive people to ever live.

Largely because of the efforts of Miss Anne Sullivan, Helen obtained an education and an attitude that enabled her to go on to live an extraordinary life. She graduated with honors from Radcliff College, where as a student she wrote the first of the 13 books she would eventually author: The Story of My Life, which was translated into 50 different languages. She learned to read French, German, Greek, and Latin in Braille, she met every U. S. President from Grover Cleveland to Lyndon Johnson, received personal correspondence from eight of them and counted such people as Alexander Graham Bell and Mark Twain among her personal friends. She was a powerful advocate for the disabled and a political activist who published hundreds of articles and lectured in numerous foreign countries. At the age of 74 she completed a 40,000-mile trip throughout the world.

Miss Keller had many honors bestowed upon her during her lifetime including the French Legion of Honor and the U.S. Presidential Medal of Freedom. But her greatest moment came when she was introduced to the famous Massachusetts minister, Phillips Brooks, who, in turn, introduced her to Jesus Christ. Of this experience, she said, "I always knew He was there, but I didn't know His name!

Helen Keller’s belief in Jesus Christ, more than anywhere else explains why she was able, throughout her life, to never allow conditions, physical or otherwise, to control or limit her enjoyment of, or her accomplishments in, life. She said, "I thank God for my handicaps, for, through them, I have found myself, my work, and my God." She wrote, “I can see a God-made world, not a man-made world." Reflecting on her reading of the Bible, she said on June 26, 1955, "It gives me a deep comforting sense that 'things seen are temporal and things unseen are eternal.'"

Helen Keller’s life and testimony is an indictment against the self pity that cramps, cripples and destroys life for so many people who allow their circumstances or conditions of one sort or another to keep them from the happiness and productivity that could otherwise be theirs. Her life is a wake-up call to those whose tendency is to focus on what they don’t have and what they aren’t capable of, rather than on what they do have and what they can do. From a lifetime of experience she said, "Self-pity is our worst enemy and if we yield to it, we can never do anything wise in the world."

Helen Keller said that there are four things that must be learned in life before life can be lived well: One is “To think clearly without hurry or confusion;” another is, to “love everybody sincerely;” a third is to “act in everything with the highest motives;” and the fourth and most important is, to “trust God unhesitatingly." These are all based upon biblical principles, and it would be a highly profitable exercise for anyone to see how many references in Scripture they could find for each of these.

Refuse to be bound by conditions, circumstances, or people in your life who have hurt or discouraged you. As the Roman poet Horace wrote in the first century BC, “Carpe Diem” – “seize the day.” There is a way to do this, and do it every day: Learn from the Bible and from people like Helen Keller that (1) your cultivation of a consistently thankful spirit, (2) how you think about and treat other people and (3) how much you trust in God day by day will determine how blessed and happy you are in life and how much blessedness and happiness you are able to bring to the lives of others. (CRC)

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