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Make the Most of Where You Are

by Bob Russell

     A friend recently sent me this old story:  A farmer wrote to his son in prison, “I’ve decided not to plant potatoes this year. I can’t plow the field without your help.”  The son responded, “Dad, don’t plow up the field! That’s where I buried the money I stole!”  The next day the police, who regularly read the inmates’ mail, immediately dispatched a vanload of officers to the farm. They proceeded to dig up the entire field but found nothing.  The son wrote back, “You can now plant the potatoes, Dad. That’s the best I can do from here!

     That funny story contains an important spiritual lesson. Sometimes we use difficult circumstances as an excuse for giving up and doing nothing. We feel helpless, restricted by our poor environment, limited opportunities, or meager talent. However, the Bible says, “[make] the most of every opportunity because the days are evil” (Ephesians 5:16). It is amazing how much can be accomplished — even when disadvantaged — if we change our attitude and use a little imagination and determination.

     Author J. Wallace Hamilton wrote about two country musicians whose girlfriends broke up with them within hours of one another. One jumped off a Nashville bridge and ended his life. The other went home and wrote a sad love song about his broken heart, which became a hit and netted him hundreds of thousands of dollars. That’s the best he could do from where he was — even though he was in a sad place.

     Some of the world’s most successful people have stubbornly refused to be imprisoned by difficult circumstances. John Grisham, the best-selling author, had his first novel, A Time to Kill, rejected more than a dozen times. Michael Jordan was cut from his junior high basketball team. Colonel Sanders was financially broke at age 65 before he marketed his recipe for Kentucky Fried Chicken. Bud Paxon failed at two marriages and went bankrupt twice before founding the Home Shopping Network.  The list of successful people who refused to be bound by their past experiences seems endless. Solomon wrote,“…for though the righteous fall seven times, they rise again, but the wicked stumble into calamity” (Proverbs 24:16). 

     The Apostle Paul is a great example of someone who made the most of where he was – including prison. He not only learned to be content in any circumstance, yet he also made the most of every opportunity, regardless of how unpleasant it seemed at the time:

     Paul refused to be chained by adverse circumstances. Instead, he did the best he could from where he was. No wonder God used him in such a significant way. Where do you find yourself today? Are you in some prison of your own making? Or are you trapped by circumstances beyond your control? You can’t change the past, and sometimes there’s little you can do about your present situation, but you can change your perspective about the future. You can do your best from here.

     Scott Stallings is a professional golfer who doesn’t often win on the PGA Tour. That means he plays with a lot of pressure every round. Recently he scored an eight, a triple bogey, on a par 5 hole. So naturally, he was discouraged when he walked off the green. However, Stallings tweeted the following heartwarming video with the explanation, “Made an 8 on 13 today and then walked off the green to this…They don’t care if I make a birdie or a triple. So blessed to have them by my side”  (Note: it was a video of his family.)


Bob Russell is retired Senior Minister of Southeast Christian Church in Louisville, KY.





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That is why, for Christ's sake, I delight in weaknesses, in insults, in hardships, in persecutions, in difficulties. For when I am weak, then I am strong.

2 Corinthians 12:10