14
Sep
21

My Own NGH List

Ninjas ASSEMBLE!

Last night the newly-crowned, 15-year-old champion of the show, American Ninja Warrior gazed earnestly into the camera and assured me, “Hey! If you can dream it and work hard, you can do ANYTHING!”

REALLY?” I replied, reaching to my left for another handful of popcorn, noticing the twinge in my shoulder as I did so. “You honestly think so?”

But hey… you have to love the kid’s heart. He started out with nothing but a dream. 

And then, with a lot of dedication and special training equipment (like his own custom-built Salmon Ladder, Jumping Spider, and Warped Wall), he took his nimble, 15-year-old body and trained it into championship shape. 

But as I sat and snacked and listened to earnest young Kaden speak, my NGH list expanded by one.

“NGH” is shorthand for “Never Gonna Happen.” [Or if you want to be a little more grammatically formal, call it the NGTH List; “Never Going To Happen.”] 

This is the list I keep of the things that are CLEARLY never going to happen in my lifetime. Despite Kaden’s heartfelt pep talk, I knew that becoming the next American Ninja Warrior is light years beyond my personal radar screen. 

It’s NGH… Never Gonna Happen.

Just like my dream of playing in the NBA. NGH. Or climbing Mount Everest. Also NGH. To this list I should probably also add my childhood fantasies of becoming a firefighter, or a policeman, or game show host.

NONE of those are Ever Gonna Happen.

On one hand, I find that moving things onto my NGH List is a very liberating exercise. I mean, if I keep on believing that the day will come when I finally learn to fly a plane, or become a ventriloquist, or sculpt Joan’s lovely image in marble, I invite nothing but frustration and disappointment the longer those goals remain unachieved. 

Moving that kind of stuff onto my NGH List frees me up to discover more reasonable, age-and-ability-appropriate sources of fulfillment.  

On the other hand, I have to ask myself; “Is a rapidly expanding NGH List a sign that I’ve thrown in the towel? Given up? “Settled?” Ceased dreaming?”

I think I was 19 years old when I first uttered the phrase, “Someday, I’m going to write a book.” Today, at nearly 70 years, that dream remains unfulfilled. 

Please understand: I’ve started several books. One even grew to a little more than 11,000 words. 

Each time, however, I have abandoned the effort as I became overwhelmed, discouraged, lost, or disappointed with the sub-standard quality of my effort. But then I pick up someone else’s printed, published work, and become simultaneously inspired and intimidated

And yet, despite the internal turmoil this causes me, I am still not willing to move “Write a book” onto my NGH List.

Ultimately, I (and probably all of us) must look soberly at our goals and ask the question, “Is this quest ‘of God’? Or is it just me and my idle fantasizing?” Another way of asking the same question might be: “Is this THING part of my divinely-appointed PURPOSE in life? Or not?” 

If the answer to that question is YES, nothing should stop you from carrying it out. If it is NOT, you should waste no time adding it to your own personal NGH List

I take a measure of comfort from the Bible’s story of the Israelites. Their divinely appointed purpose (recorded in Genesis 12:3) was to be a set-apart people through whom God would bless all of Creation.

But to get there, they had to endure 400 years of enslavement in Egypt, 40 years of wandering aimlessly in the Sinai wilderness, and then untold months of vicious, mortal combat before they finally “arrived.” I am sure most of them wanted to put “Be God’s Chosen People” on their NGH List at around year six of their time in Egypt.

And yet, despite all the delays, all the setbacks, all the disappointments, and all the dead-ends, God’s purpose for the Israelites was ultimately fulfilled. As the prophet Isaiah reminds us, “… but those who hope in the Lord will renew their strength. They will soar on wings like eagles; they will run and not grow weary; they will walk and not be faint.” (Isaiah 40:31, NRSV).

Today, no matter what new things are being added to YOUR NGH List, take heart. Wait on God. Renew your confidence that God has a purpose and a path for you.

Abundant blessings;


11 Responses to “My Own NGH List”


  1. September 14, 2021 at 9:51 pm

    Having wanted to be ‘an author’ from my teens, I moved that dream to my own ‘NGH list’ about a decade ago. But then I revisited it; things had moved on, and whereas in the past one could only get a book ‘published’ through a ‘publisher’, nowadays it’s possible (and, relatively, quite easy, as I found out) to self-publish. And so, I did just that. Admittedly, teenage me was really thinking in terms of ‘a successful author’ rather than just ‘an author’, and my self-published book has achieved sales in the tens rather than the tens-of-millions. But by lowering one’s sights, it’s still possible to achieve one’s dreams – even ones that are on the NGH list.

  2. September 15, 2021 at 12:20 am

    AMEN, Russell! I, too, cringe when I hear (usually on some children’s show), “You can be anything you want to be!” No, I can be anything GOD wants me to be. As I get older, there are certain things I know I will never do, and it IS liberating! I have spent most of my life with too much on my plate, and much of the time sick and burned out from trying to be all things to all people. How refreshing to be able to narrow things down to what I can do, like to do, and GW (God willing) what I was created to do.

  3. September 15, 2021 at 3:00 am

    I think you should definitely move the book to the “gonna happen” list. Certainly, your blog posts can be organized into a nice collection of “russellings of the spirit.” 😉

  4. September 17, 2021 at 6:10 pm

    Excellent reminder. If it’s His plan for my life, never give up. If it’s just a fanciful dream of mine, then what does it matter? I will say, though, that with your style of witty banter, my opinion is that you would make a delighful game show host, just sayin’.


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