Whether or not we are superstitious about numbers, we are all aware of numbers.
Recently I was in line at a restaurant counter when the customer in front of me heard the cashier say, “That’ll be $19.54.” He said, “That was a great year — I was born in 1954!”
A long time ago I stopped in a diner for coffee and a bite, and the bill totaled $6.66. I smiled when I heard that, but the cashier absolutely refused to charge me “the devil’s number” for my breakfast. She changed it to $6.50, and that made me smile even more.
Airplanes don’t have a row 13. Many hotels don’t have a 13th floor. Golf courses, I’ve noticed, still have a hole 13. Maybe that’s the problem.
On the positive side we celebrate birthdays and anniversaries, and that’s why I bring up numbers. According to my newsletter count, this is article #200 for me on Do Good U. Pretty cool.
So I’m going to use the occasion to look back a little and forward a little, but mostly to suggest that all of us should look back if we really want to see forward.
Once upon a time…
Through a series of circumstances that could only have been divinely orchestrated, I found myself working for a high-tech company in Silicon Valley. Gary also worked there, and one day he asked me if I’d be willing to write some lyrics to a song he was working on.
I’d never written lyrics but I loved them, so fairly quickly I agreed to give it a try.
At lunch Gary sat down at a piano while I stood there, listened to him play, and read the lyrics he had written but wasn’t happy with.
Over the next 30 minutes or so I changed about half the lyrics, gave him back the scratched up piece of paper, and Voila!, Gary and I had our first song.
That was not the end of it, and in a few months we had about eight songs on a CD, a lot of support, and I had an idea that we should start a music company. Gary said, “OK. What will we call it?” And I said, “Do Good Music.”
He wanted to know why, and I said, “We do music, we want it to be good music, and we want to do good.” The truth is I hadn’t thought about it at all — the name just came to me along with the explanation. So we started the company.
While buying the domain name I thought we should dream a little, so I bought other “do good” domain names, though “do good” was not available. In its place I bought Do Good U because even then I wanted to encourage people to do good.
That was more than 25 years ago.
After about 10 years Do Good Music formally ended, and eventually my wife and I moved to Arizona. I still thought about Do Good U and saw an ever growing need for good in the world.
So I dusted off the domain name, prayed a lot, and once again God orchestrated events in a way that led to the formation of Do Good University.
Friends from the music industry have been and are involved in this business, and in fact have made invaluable contributions.
I say that to explain that this is really only one story in several chapters, not several short stories in one book. A single silver thread runs through every part of our history and holds it together: good.
I could look back a little farther, or I could add dozens of details. In fact just a day ago I was sharing with a friend about the connections God made for me with several people who are part of this. Individually those stories are incredible, but taken together they are beyond amazing.
It was Winston Churchill who said, “The farther backward you can look, the farther forward you can see.”
Because he was a historian I’m sure that in large part Churchill’s quote is about understanding history. History, after all, has a predictable tendency to repeat itself.
Knowing that, if you want to see the future you can learn a great deal by looking at the past.
Part of the reason history repeats itself is because we pay it too little attention. My father taught me when I was quite young to learn from my mistakes and not repeat them. Better still, he said, “Learn from the mistakes of others.”
If we do learn from our successes and our mistakes, grow in doing good and decline in selfishness, then our failures will remain in the past, unrepeated in the future. But if we simply leave the future as much as possible in our own “capable” hands, history will almost certainly repeat itself.
So take Churchill’s advice and look back as far as you can. You will learn from history, and you will discover something much deeper.
You will notice that we humans are not the only ones in this story.
A little help
When you look backward carefully and objectively, you will see God at work.
We call it a miracle when God intervenes in “real time.” Maybe it’s still a miracle even if we don’t see it until we reflect on the past. In any case, I can look back and see many prayers answered in ways I didn’t recognize at the time.
Whether I look back on the history of mankind or the history of Do Good U, I know God is there. So I know he will be there in the future, even if I don’t see everything that is happening.
In fact pieces of life for all of us fall into place on occasion far too smoothly to think it was us. We’ve had help, and we will have help, and it will be good help.
And that’s a part of history that I hope repeats itself for you every day.
Do good. It’s in you!