Forget the former things; do not dwell on the past. See, I am doing a new thing! Now it springs up; do you not perceive it? I am making a way in the wilderness and streams in the wasteland.” Isaiah 43:18-19 NIV

By Gary Bottoms, CLU, CHFC 

Chief Executive Officer

I believe failure is an event, not an identity, and difficulties are opportunities for personal growth. I’ve had my share of failure and difficulty. We learn more in the dark than in the light. That’s life.

Picture a pinball machine with a little silver ball ricocheting and pinging from post to post. That’s me. In the eighth grade, I learned the shame of being dishonest from the look on my teacher’s face after I did a workaround shortcut on a science test. Ping! In college, I learned, after being placed on academic probation, that the ticket to survival was showing up and doing my part. Ping! In the military, I learned I was not in charge. Ping! In the business world, I learned a lot of patience is required. Ping! Two mentors helped me see what I wanted to become and the raw power of having a vision for my life and what I really want. Ping! As a father of a very sick and endangered newborn, I learned that an enduring creator God was engaged in my life and aware of me personally and intimately. Boom! Game Changer!  Don’t underestimate what God is up to.

I’m learning that the admission of our ignorance is often the first step in our education. Similarly, the admission of being lost is often the beginning of us finding our way. Some quit, literally, as their stories are evolving because they give up hope. For them, it’s prematurely over. Winning, at times, comes about simply because we don’t lose hope, give up and quit. Difficult seasons can be preparation for some purpose in our lives.

One of my favorite authors, Henry David Thoreau, wrote “I know of no more encouraging fact than the unquestionable ability of man to elevate his life by conscious endeavor”. Gratitude and contentment are internally generated capabilities. Internal peace is not something that we go “out there” and discover. Depending upon others in our life to meet our needs and deliver happiness is a worthless strategy. 

We all have evolving stories, and if we study them closely, I believe we can find a God narrative in every frame of our story. I have seen God’s hand of protection. I’m continually learning what works and doesn’t work. He has plans to prosper us and give us hope and a future (Jeremiah 29). I’m learning that life is an ongoing series of crossroads and God’s plan is for me to ask for guidance and follow his direction as I can best perceive it. This is how to find rest for our souls (Jeremiah 6).

Sometimes God allows certain things in order to produce certain things. For example, take blameless and upright Job in the Old Testament, he suffered devastating losses that were followed by overflowing blessings. Consider Joseph in the book of Genesis who was sold as a slave by his brothers but later saw God’s hand in the story which included saving his family. The apostles Paul and Peter were tormented and killed, without regret, in Rome, all the while anticipating their eternal destination. I’ve been to Rome, and I’ve seen the many statues of Peter and Paul, and we’re now reflecting upon their impactful lives after thousands of years have passed. They ended well. God was with them, and he’s also with us, in the dark seasons.

The photo shows the result of what began as a caterpillar – an amazing transformation. Something changes in our brain when we make our future the authority over our present. We have a vision of what is evolving and where we are going. The vision can help get us through a lot of junk.

My Dad struggled for 10 years with Alzheimer’s disease. One week before he died at age 89, I stopped by where he was living and fed him breakfast. He’d been mute and unresponsive for several weeks. Just as I got him back to his room, I heard him whisper “the Lord is going to take me, and I’m sorry for all the trouble I’ve caused.” This prompted me to drop to one knee next to his wheelchair and share with him some things I needed to say, and I ended it with, “I love you”. He then said, “I love you too”. As far as I know, those were the last words of his lifetime. He ended well, and his transformation was completed – a beautiful picture I will never forget.

Our corporate calling of helping others, along with our embedded employee benefit and life insurance specialties, intersects with our client’s desire for ongoing financial security and protection.

Gary Bottoms, CLU, CHFC

Chief Executive Officer


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