A Book Review of “Who Moved My Cheese? by Spencer Johnson, M.D. (As it relates to the Christian life)

We had been extra busy with our travels this past year. (Belize, Oman, Jamaica, Trinidad, Malaysia. Not to mention all of our travels inside the States.) I needed a breather. I had big plans for this winter. Just some quiet time to refocus and recharge. I was going to have a staycation to read, write, study, pray and fast.

Besides being a Pastor, Global Missions Director, business owner, and farmer, my husband also takes ministers on guided duck hunts. It’s not uncommon for him and my boys to be away a few days each week during duck season, hosting clients. That being the case, once the holidays have passed and the last half of duck season is in full swing, is usually the perfect time for me to plan my Staycation.

Things don’t always (rarely) go as we plan. Unexpected circumstances usually dictate that some measure of impromptu/ad lib living be implemented. We live ever-changing lives from day to day, and often, hour to hour.

When my grandson’s preschool closing unexpectedly, naturally, Memaw was recruited to fill in keeping him a couple days a week. Mind you, I wouldn’t have it any other way, but the Little Prince is a high energy, full throttle, hands on kind of guy. Nothing else gets accomplished when he’s on the premises. This meant that everything I would have done on those days was shuffled to other days. Hence, not much time for a staycaytion in December, plus all of the holiday decorating, cooking, shopping, and end of year parties.

Then there was the weather. Everyone knows you can’t control the weather. It’s winter, so you expect it to be cold. Single digit cold, however, is too cold. Now, you may not know how that affects duck hunting. Ducks need open water to find food. If they don’t have open water, they stay put, usually on wildlife refuges. If they aren’t flying off the refuges to look for food, there are no ducks for hunters to hunt. Hence, the reason I had anxious hunters at home for two weeks of my staycation. That was my last week of December, and my first week of January.

Lastly, came the flu. Influenza. Most of you know it is as nasty as it sounds. First my son, next my daughter, then myself. We actually cancelled midweek service at Church because so many of our families had been stricken by this malevolent bugger. Perhaps you think that gave me extra time to stay at home and do my thing…really? You thought that???

Maybe you haven’t had the pleasure of meeting Mr. N. Flu Enza, or perhaps it’s just been a while, and you have forgotten his particular charms. Body aching like it went through a car crusher. Skin sizzling like it’s about to combust from fever. Limbs convulsing from being chilled with hypothermic blood…Happy Staycation to me!

I said all that to say this, things change. That’s just living. It’s important for us to learn how to adjust to changes in a healthy way. Enter this little jewel…

My changing circumstances reminded me of a little book titled, “Who Moved My Cheese?” by Spencer Johnson, M.D. You can find it at SPENCERJOHNSON.COM or AMAZON.COM.

It’s a parable about two little mice, named Sniff and Scurry, and two little people, named Hem and Haw. These four characters represent four distinct ways of responding to changing circumstances within each of us. Sniff and Scurry represent our simple ways of responding, while Hem and Haw represent our more emotional responses.

In the story, the mice and the little people get up every day and find their way through a maze to find cheese at various cheese stations located throughout its corridors. They have been enjoying a large stash of cheese at Cheese Station C for an extended time, and become quite comfortable and satisfied with their situation.

The cheese at Cheese Station C, however, begins to dwindle, over time and little by little. One day the mice and the little people arrive at the station, as they have done for a long time, only to discover the cheese is completely gone.

Sniff and Scurry do what their names imply. They immediately put on their running shoes and begin to scurry about and sniff out in the maze to find more cheese. Hem and Haw, on the other hand, have purely emotional responses. Their reactions range from one end of the emotional spectrum to the other, as do ours most often, when our circumstances change.

Finally, Haw decides he must go out into the maze in search of new cheese. He knows if he stays, he will die. He feels empathy for his friend, Hem, but cannot afford to wait any longer, and sets out on his own. In the end, he does find new cheese and learns a lot about how to react to change in the process, leaving a handwritten trail for Hem should he decide to come in search of new cheese, as well.

So, you may be wondering how this little parable applies to your life? How is this a spiritual concept? “Who Moved My Cheese?” isn’t written from a Christian perspective. It teaches a principle, however, that can be applied to any area of our lives.

Things change. That’s just living. Learn how to cope in a healthy manner. Click To Tweet

Nothing stays the same. Weather, seasons, finances, jobs, health, age, relationships, opinions, Church, responsibilities. These are all extremely fluid.

What you want, and feel you need, in each of these areas is the metaphorical cheese. As Christians, our relationship with God is the cheese.

When circumstances beyond our control change in any area of our lives, we have a choice of how we will respond. Often we think that to respond in the simplistic ways of scurrying around and sniffing out a new venue for keeping our relationship right with God during difficult times is backward and foolish. We usually tend to use our highly intellectual or highly emotional reasoning.

Telling God how unfair our situation is. How we don’t deserve what has come upon us. How angry we are, even at God Himself, for allowing this change of circumstances. How we are going to refuse to be budged from what we’ve always done, and always thought, and always seen results from.

Denial can be deadly. Click To Tweet Panic paralyzes. Click To Tweet Stubbornness is a form of rebellion, which is sin. Click To Tweet

Anything worth having, takes maintenance, and once that something is gone, it is worth seeking after.

As Christians, we must always remain focused and aware of the Cheese -Our relationship with God.

When circumstances in our maze of life begin to change, we should respond in the most simple way in order to locate more Cheese. Neither anger, fear, distrust, accusations, nor any other emotional response, will solve the problem of locating new Cheese. Nor will any highly intellectual program, performance or plan.

A friend of mine, Scott Armstrong (@PastorSA), recently tweeted, “Date the methods. Marry the message.” How simple, yet profound is that? The sooner we figure out that it’s not the methods that sustain us, but our relationship with God (the Cheese), the less traumatic it will be to put our noses and knees to the ground in search of Him.

Quite simply, the only way to find what new thing God is doing through your changing circumstances is to search diligently for Him. It’s what Sniff and Scurry would do.

And ye shall seek me, and find me, when ye shall search for me with all your heart.” (Jeremiah 29:13)

As always, feel free to leave a comment, share to social media, email me at PAT@PATVICK.COM, and be sure to SUBSCRIBE to my mailing list.

Warm Regards, -Pat

Choosing To Live In The Face Of Terror On 9/11

Anyone who knows my husband and me very well, knows that in recent months we have ramped up our travels out of the country doing Missions work. Today, in light of the sixteenth anniversary of 9/11, I will answer the question that people have begun to ask me on a regular basis, “Aren’t you afraid to travel so far?”  The answer to that question is, “Yes, sometimes I am.”

That being said, fear isn’t always a bad thing. It actually causes you to live your life on purpose. Fear is only bad when it paralyzes you from living. Healthy fear should cause you to keep your head up and your senses alert to make wise choices. It causes you to take inventory of your life, and make sure it is filled with worthwhile endeavors. Living fully for God, and working for His Kingdom, are definitely worth a calculated risk.

King David declared in Psalm 111:10, “The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom…”

I have a newsflash for you: Everyone dies. We had just lost a close family member when I turned to my oldest son, looked him square in the eyes, and spoke these words. They washed over him the same way they just washed over you -thick, cold and sticky. I don’t regret saying them. I wanted him to know he only has one life, and it needs to be spent wisely.

Here’s another newsflash for you: Living in certain safety doesn’t keep you from dying; It only keeps you from living. I choose to think of my life as currency. It’s going to be spent on something. That something might as well be eternal.

Living in certain safety doesn't keep you from dying; It only keeps you from living. Click To Tweet

Healthy fear should cause you to move cautiously, not foolishly, forward. People that are running from God live foolishly. Taking crazy chances with your life is not using wisdom. Living strung out on whatever new and exciting high is just around the corner doesn’t bring glory to God. Get yourself under control and live with eternity in mind!

On September 11th, 2001, weak and foolish people attacked our country. They spent their lives in one swift payment to induce a state of terror upon their perceived enemies.

I’ll admit that in the wake of those events, I was panicked. Then I was numb. Then I was angry. After a while, I realized I wasn’t really living anymore. I was paralyzed by my fear…just like the terrorists wanted all along. It’s what they spent themselves for. One day I decided to send all that terror back for a refund. I refuse to give them what they paid for.

Who do you want to honor with your life? Terrorists? When you allow yourself to live in terror, that’s who gets the honor. Do you want to honor the victims? Our military? Our first responders? God? That won’t be done by hunkering down in a quivering puddle and refusing to live your life.

Are there more bad guys? Affirmative. Could something really bad happen again? Absolutely. Do bad things happen to good people? Unfortunately so.

When I’m tempted to allow my fear to paralyze me, I remind myself of the text that my friend in the Middle East sent me the night before I flew.

“Pat, I want to thank you for conquering your fear and getting on that plane…”

Because we got on that plane in the face of our fear, thirty-three people received the Baptism of the Holy Ghost for the first time. Most, if not all, of those thirty-three people have now been baptized in Jesus’ name for the remission of their sins. Thirty-three faces that I will see in Heaven when my life is spent.

Lest you think I am promoting self, and are tempted to say, “God could have done that without you,”…Yes, but He chooses to use people.

So, today, in light of the sixteenth anniversary of 9/11, I will not cower and give place to terror. Instead, I choose to live fully and on purpose for the glory of God and the furtherance of His Kingdom.

I will leave you with one of my very favorite quotes:

Safety is not in the absence of danger, but in the presence of the Lord.” -Unknown

Warm Regards, -Pat

As always, feel free to leave a comment, share to social media, SUBSCRIBE to my newsletter, and email me: Pat@PATVICK.COM