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LIFE'S CHALLENGES

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Challenge of Life
by
Robert H. Gilbert, Jr

Many years ago, as a young boy in school, I had a mentor who was in my fourth grade class. He might have been just ten years old, but he knew what he wanted to do with his life. All through school, he made A’s in every subject. I remember one time, in the ninth grade, he kept telling the teachers that, by the time he was thirty, he was going to be a millionaire.

So, it seemed, the only thing I could do was take every subject with the same teachers, at the same time, with my mentor. If he could be a millionaire by the age thirty, why couldn’t I?

In the eleventh grade, my mentor chose the college he was going to attend. He did not participate in sports; all he did was study The Wall Street Journal. Day in and day out, he read financial newspapers.
He said that his major in college would be accounting  I found out the name of the college and got my parents to agree to pay for my studies, at the same college. Having no idea what my major was going to be, just going to the same college was good enough for me. After graduation from high school, we took the summer off before going away to college.

When we got our degrees, four years later, he took off in a different direction than me. After two years of searching, I found him working for the I.R.S., in Denver, Colorado Now, I knew how he was going to become a millionaire. I checked with the main office for a job. After about three weeks, I got a job as an assistant to his office. He was very surprised to see me.  We had lunch, on numerous occasions, and he talked about his future. He had six years left, according to his time schedule, for becoming a millionaire.

I must admit that I never thought he would do it, but he did.  In five years, at the age of twenty-nine, he had accomplished something most people just dream of ... becoming a millionaire.

He decided to quit work and explore the world and promised to send me post cards.

Me? I guess, I’ll just be a poor man and work the rest of my life, to try and save at least a hundred dollars. Some achieve more in life than others and then want more.  Some, however, never get their feet off the ground floor, and yet are still very happy.

He sent me a post card from Switzerland, where he climbed the highest mountain ... just to say he had been there.  He, even, went on a space shuttle to explore outer space. He said he was so close to the stars he felt as if he could reach out and touch them.

He landed on the moon and, to prove it, he left a footprint or two. I knew he was there, as I had seen him on television. He sent me a card from Bermuda, saying he was going to the deepest part of the ocean ... to see the creatures of the sea.

He led an expedition that was going from the North Pole to the South Pole. Maybe he wanted to have his name in The Guinness Book of World Records for walking all those miles.

I found out later that, upon his return from his expedition, he had bought a mansion on a hill that cost him well over twenty million dollars.  He was letting folks know how rich he was

One day, he came by the office and all the people cheered for him. He looked about forty years older than when he had left on his adventures.  He was almost bald. When I came out of my office, he ran up to me, shook my hand, and asked if I was free for lunch.

"Sure," I said. "But, I insist on paying for it."

He smiled, then nodded.

I had an idea that he was almost broke. Surely he must be, after going on all those trips and buying the new house.

When we got to the restaurant and sat at a table in the back, he began telling me his story.

"My adventures were not all that pleasant. I’ve been a dancer, singer, an actor, even had my name in lights. I’ve been a drunkard, even stole for food.  On the way back home, I kept thinking, surely, there was one more thing to do that no one else has done before.

Landing in New York, I realized what it was.

I took another plane to the Middle East (Jerusalem, to be exact).  I went down to a boat rental and got a boat for the day.  I rowed out to the middle of the sea, the Sea of Galilee. I stood up, stepped out onto the water and went under.  I was sure I went almost to the bottom. I was out of breath and about to pass out.  Then, I felt something pulling my body up toward the surface 'til my head was out of the water.

I gasped for air. Lifted back into the boat, I looked down at my clothes. They were dry and the hairs on my head were not wet.  What was going on?

I looked around to see who had pulled me out of the water.  I wanted to thank them for saving my life.
But, no one was anywhere around. I couldn’t believe that I had swam back up from being down so deep, even though I’m a very good swimmer. I looked around again, but saw no one.  Then, I finally looked at the sky.

I saw an arm reaching down, then a face and a smile appeared.

I stood up, raised my arms skyward, and said, ‘Lord, why could I not walk on these waters as you did?
I have done so many things, just because I knew I could do them.  I believed in myself and I believe in you So, why could I not do this?’

Then, I heard a soft-spoken voice say, ‘Yes, I know you believe in me. I have watched you do many things in your life.

If you know I believe, then why did I sink into the water?’ I asked.

The Lord answered, ‘Yes, you do believe in me.  But, you believe in your mind, not in your heart.’ Then, the arms and face slowly disappeared.

Robert H. Gilbert, Jr.

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