Quiet Talks by Samuel Dickey: Gordon, Samuel Dickey - Quiet Talks on Home Ideals: 08. The Practical Idealist.

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Quiet Talks by Samuel Dickey: Gordon, Samuel Dickey - Quiet Talks on Home Ideals: 08. The Practical Idealist.

TOPIC: Gordon, Samuel Dickey - Quiet Talks on Home Ideals (Other Topics in this Collection)
SUBJECT: 08. The Practical Idealist.

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The Practical Idealist.

That good word "ideals" has been cheapened quite a bit in some minds. Or, it should rather be said, that men have very commonly come to a cheapened idea of its meaning. For no good thing can be cheapened, in the bad sense of that word; though we can have cheapened ideas about the finest things. The word "ideals" is looked at by many as they would look at a ragged tramp at the kitchen door, with mingled pity and contempt. That is because it means something undesirable to them. They think of it as meaning childish castle-building, immature dreamings, visionary imaginings, in the weak meaning of that word "visionary." To them "ideals" mean something clear out of touch with the everyday world of affairs.

Of course, there are plenty of unpractical people who get hold of things wrong end to. There are people who are fond of using the word "ideals," but who don't use it in its true meaning. It is made to cover up childish fancies, half-digested plans, and the like. These people are given to talking a good bit, and are apt to use a good many adjectives and adverbs, usually in the superlative degree; everything is "most." Whereas the practical idealist is a very quiet, matter-of-fact person, more bent on doing than on talking. Hard work usually makes the tongue slower and more cautious.

These visionaries without doubt make it harder for the true idealist to hold to his ideals. For the crowd on the street doesn't think, and constantly confuses the two. The practical man who quietly insists on holding to his ideals is classed with the unpractical visionary. And without doubt this has influenced many to pull the flag down a bit, instead of letting it fly its fine message out at the masthead. Yet this very confusion and thoughtless misunderstanding make the need all the greater. It won't be so pleasant to keep the flag up. To be misunderstood when one's motives are high and earnest is pretty apt to jar and cut; though some have climbed up to where they ignore and forget the misunderstandings, as they push smilingly on.

Yet of course all this need not keep us from clinging with tight fingers to the real thing, with its fine grain and its rosy hue; nor from the constant uplift of its warm companionship. It should not keep us from doing the crowd the great service of seeing a flag at the top of the pole; nor better yet, from giving Jesus, the great practical Idealist, a clear sounding-board in our lives.

The practical idealist tugging away down in the thick of things knows, and loves to remember, that Jesus is here, now, alongside you and us. Many a churchman, who delights to call himself practical, says, with the air of one humouring a fanciful child, "That's a very pretty thought;" and then proceeds to shut it out of his practical life. He feels quite sufficient in himself for any tug. The other man who knows by experience how real that presence is, sings:

"I cannot do it alone,

The waves run fast and high,

And the fogs close chill around,

And the light goes out in the sky;

But I know that we two

Shall win in the end—

Jesus and I.

"I cannot row it myself,

My boat on the raging sea;

But beside me sits Another

Who pulls or steers with me,

And I know that we two

Shall come safe into port—

His child and He.

"Coward and wayward and weak,

I change with the changing sky.

To-day so eager and brave,

To-morrow not caring to try;

But He never gives in,

So we two shall win—

Jesus and I.

"Strong and tender and true,

Crucified once for me!

Never will He change, I know,

Whatever I may be!

But all He says I must do,

Ever from sin to keep free

We shall finish our course.

And reach home at last—

His child and He."

And as he sings his life is full of victory, and of uplift for the crowd on the road.

Many people think of the ideal and practical as two utterly different things; and, more than different, as opposed to each other. The practical thing to do is not the ideal, they think; and the ideal is not practical. Some go to the extreme of thinking that having an ideal really hinders, for it makes you unpractical, and visionary in a bad or weak way.

There are some who believe in having ideals but don't believe they can really be lived out. To them the ideal is a good thing to have, even as a pretty picture is enjoyable. You look at the picture and enjoy its beauty, but with no thought entering your mind that it has anything to do with your everyday life. Some go a bit further, and think of an ideal as something to look up to, with a sort of dim thought that looking up helps to lift up; but without an idea of getting down to hard work in making the ideal a real thing in life.