“The Lord will keep you from all harm—he will watch over your life; the Lord will watch over your coming and going both now and forevermore” (Psalm 121:7-8).
Each year, I wait with great anticipation for the month of October. There is much that commends it to me, but of most importance are the blue hues of its skies and its position on the calendar that invites introspection and the opportunity for renewal.
An October sky is unsurpassed in its beauty. All skies are blue, but they are not all equal. An October sky is a mirrored, almost silver blue, perhaps attributable to the effects of sunlight now lower on the horizon creating a different refraction of shimmering white that polishes and changes the blue, giving it a sharper edge and deeper clarity.
October marks the beginning of the fourth quarter. Businesses are already developing plans for the New Year based upon results achieved through September. The rapidly approaching holiday season compresses time; acquisitions, divestitures, financing, and fund raising activities take on a sense of urgency in October—a deal not done by Thanksgiving may not get done until January.
Given all of this, October is naturally a time for leaders to reflect on the year that is slipping past, and to set sights for what is going to come. Contemplative moments are not morbid in October. If things are not well, they can still be improved. If things are well, they can be celebrated and reinforced. October does not easily tolerate spilled milk dispositions.
Which brings me to renewal: If all is not as we hoped and all is not yet lost, then work must be rejoined to bring victory. Standing between the vitality of summer and the bleakness of winter is October, a time to renew commitments, affect change, and establish a better future.
What works for business also works for us individually. October provides us with a setting for reflection and renewal, too.
Spiritually, I find myself to now possess an “October soul,” and I like that. What do I mean by an “October soul?” Age has something to do with it—as I write this I am fifty-nine—and there are fewer days in front of me than behind me. No morbidity here, either. I retain my health, my zest for life, my pursuit of knowledge, my striving to become what God wants me to be, and my desire to be a better husband, father, friend, and leader. In many respects, I am at my peak performance—my life’s experiences have yielded wisdom and scar tissue. I have done good things and bad; smart things and foolish things. In honest reflection I find both wonder and blessing because God has used these things to make my soul prosper, and for that I am very grateful.
In my October soul, reflection yields peace and joy. I know how I will respond to crisis, to trouble, to testing, to hurt, to disappointment, to unfairness, to prosperity, and to times of need. I know how to laugh and how to make, and take, a joke. I know what kind of husband I am. I know what kind of father I am. And over the last fifteen years I have come to know Jesus, my God and King. I am at peace with me.
Because of Jesus, I know what to do when I fall short of being who God wants me to be. In my October soul I allow past regrets to wash over me, but I do not wallow in them. I remember my mistakes and those times where I was much less than I should have been with remorse, but not with continuing indictment. In the words of an old bluegrass song, “I have done my time.” And through God, I have moved on to restoration and healing. I pray for those I have hurt, trusting God to make all things right. In my October soul, good memories comfort me, and hurtful memories merely mark the road I have traveled.
And in my October soul, I look forward to enjoying a harvest. I look forward to helping my family make their own journey through life so that they, too, somewhere in the future, arrive safely in their October souls.
Randy Pausch was a professor at Carnegie—Mellon University who contracted pancreatic cancer in 2007 and passed away in 2008. His final lecture is available to view on “You Tube.” It is a remarkable lecture, and Randy must have been a remarkable man. Diane Sawyer interviewed him shortly before he died, and in that interview, Randy spoke candidly about his terminal illness and he said something that I found very uplifting. Randy said that inevitably with his passing, his wife and children would find themselves being thrown over a cliff and he would not be there to catch them. Since that was the case, he had decided he would spend his remaining time preparing nets that would catch them when he could not.
In my October soul, I want to prepare nets to protect my wife and children if they fall and I am not there to catch them. My nets will be sown using strong fabric and fiber, and my nets will be filled with the cushioning power of faith, hope, love, and goodness even in the midst of evil. My nets will offer healing, forgiveness, redemption, and an everlasting future because my God has promised those blessings to me and he will give them abundantly to my family.
It’s October—a rare and beautiful month. I pray this October will hold rich blessings for you.
(Excerpted from my manuscript Carry a Godly Briefcase, the Power of God at Work in Your Business)