Right now many of us are feeling very concerned–even fearful. There’s a lot of uncertainty in our lives right now as we face things that we’ve never faced before. But nothing about this life is ever easy. God never promised it would be. He did, however promise to never leave or forsake us. Because of this promise, we are able to see hope. Life can get little lonely when we get caught in a storm. The truth is that life gets a lot less scary when we realize we’re not standing in the storm alone. Even if we can’t get together, we can still be there for each other. “Be strong. Take courage. Don’t be intimidated. Don’t give it a second thought because God, your God, is striding ahead of you. He’s right there with you. He won’t let you down; He won’t leave you.” (Deut. 31:6)
He won’t leave you.
After World War II, many American soldiers remained in England to help pick up the pieces of the war-torn areas. One of the most heart-breaking things that they saw in the aftermath was the number of orphaned children struggling to survive on their own. One soldier was driving through one the ravaged towns when he spotted a rag-tag boy with his nose pressed to the window of a pastry shop. He watched in silence while the cook kneaded the dough for a fresh batch of doughnuts. The soldier pulled up to the curb and walked over to the boy. Through the steamed-up windows, he could see the delicious-looking pastries as the baker pulled them out of the oven. The boy salivated and released a slight groan. The soldiers heart went out to the orphan and he asked, “Son…would you like some of those? The boy was startled, but said, “Oh, yes I would!” The American stepped into the shop, bought a dozen, put them in a bag and walked back to where the boy was still standing in the foggy cold of the London morning. He smiled, held out the bag and simply said, “Here you are.” As he turned to walk away, he felt a tug on his coat. The soldier looked back and heard the child ask, “Mister…are you God?”
In these trying times, remember to be generous. Share your love. There are many people in out lives who are hurting. And we are never more like God than when we give. “This is how much God loved the world: He gave his Son, his one and only Son.” (John 3:16)
The days, weeks months and years fly by so quickly. Before you know it, it’s too late. Don’t let your words of love, appreciation and encouragement go unspoken or unwritten. How long has it been since you contacted your parents, your best friend, old friends long unseen, but not forgotten? Have you ever contacted a favorite teacher, coach or counselor and told them how much their influence their influence has meant in your life? Can you imagine what news like that might mean to them? With the isolation we’re facing today, now would be the perfect time to renew and maintain some of those relationships. And maybe even to start some new ones. With social media and the myriad of ways to connect with people, the opportunities are there for you to use. And if you’re not connected in that way, good old-fashioned phone calls or letters still work.
“Like cold water to a thirsty and weary soul, so is good news from a distant land.” Proverbs 25:25
In his book, Truman, David McMcCullough shared this story:
As times got more and more difficult, President (Truman), felt more than ever a need to see and talk to what he called “the everyday American.” And he always felt better for it. One evening in Washington, on one of his walks, he had decided to take a look at the mechanism that raised and lowered the middle span of the Memorial Bridge over the Potomac. Climbing down some metal steps, he came upon the bridge tender, eating his evening supper out of his lunch pail. Showing no surprise that the President of the United States had climbed down the catwalk and suddenly appeared before him, the man said, “You know, Mr. President, I was just thinking about you.” It was a greeting President Truman loved and never forgot.
We are living in difficult times right now. If God showed up where you are right now, would you be able to say, “You know, I was just thinking about you.”
“Keep your eyes on Jesus, who both began and finished this race we’re in. Study how he did it. Because he never lost sight of where he was headed – that exhilarating finish in and with God – he could put up with anything along the way…”(Hebrews 12:2) And so can we.
If worry were a sport, we’d all be the MVP of our team. Can anyone identify with this? It’s hard not to with our current troubles all around us. When we worry, we torment ourselves. No one else is making us do it. We do it to ourselves. When we worry, we allow ourselves to be consumed by actual things we can’t control and even potential situations that may never come to pass. Worry causes stress to our body, prevents us from getting a good night’s sleep, impacts our relationships, affects our appetites and prevents from doing the daily necessities of life. When we worry, we look for ways to cope. Many of us choose denial, others may turn to substance abuse or fall back into destructive habits they thought they had defeated. Most of us choose something. But they don’t work. The more we worry, the more it occupies our mind. And each worrisome thought is like throwing fuel on our “worry” fire. What we sometimes don’t realize is that we only have so much emotional, mental and physical energy to use each day. Don’t let worry burn you out. Pray and don’t let worry take over your life. And if praying isn’t your thing, try it anyway. What have you got to lose? “Worry weighs a person down, but an encouraging word cheers up a person.” Proverbs 12:25 Encourage each other and be encouraged in return.
I read this and wished that I had this kind of faith.
A grandfather was walking through his yard when he heard his granddaughter repeating the alphabet in a tone of voice that sounded like prayer. He asked her what she was doing. The little girl explained: “I’m praying, but I can’t think of exactly the right words, so I’m just saying all the letters, and God will put them together for me because He knows what I’m thinking.”
Anyone feel the need to start repeating the alphabet?
A story is told about a frail, old man who went to live with his son, daughter-in-law and young grandson. Every night, the family ate dinner together, but because of the old man’s shaky hands and blurred vision, he had difficulty eating. Peas would roll off of his spoon and he almost always sspilled milk on the table as he tried to take a drink. His son and daughter-in-law became very frustrated and decided to have him sit at his own table in the corner where they would’t have to deal with his mess. Because the old man had broken a dish or two, they gave him a wooden bowl to eat out of. One night, the old man’s son noticed his boy playing with some wooden scraps, and he asked him what he was doing. The boy answered, “I am making a wooden bowl for you and Mommy to eat from when I grow up. The boy’s parents were speechless and in tears. From that moment on, the grandfather ate at the table with the rest of the family, and somehow the messes he made never bothered them again.
As I get older, I occasionally find myself being more clumsy and drop things I never would have dropped before. I can’t imagine what it would be like for my friends and family (especially my wife) to feel the need to isolate me because of my old-age failings. We need to remember the words of Paul the Apostle, in Ephesians 4:2: “Be completely humble and gentle; be patient, bearing with one another in love.”
This past week, I read an article that talked about people who are eccentric, eclectic and extreme-hence “Triple E.” The reason it caught my eye was that I realized that I am that person.
Eclectic? In one of my favorite pastimes, reading, I enjoy science fiction and non-fiction, adventure and romance, westerns and poetry, suspence and fantasy. In music, I enjoy old-time rock and roll and classical, show tunes and Christian, acappella and instrumental, swing and marching bands. Last week my wife and I went to see “Avengers: End Game.” This week we want to see a Christian film. I also like comedies and chick flicks.
Eccentric? Even though I’ve gotten older and more conservative, I still like to wear all kinds of funky reading glasses and crazy patterned socks.
Extreme? I hate weeds in my lawn, so I literally pick them out one by one while on my knees or even sometime laying down on the grass to see them better. One day my neighbor saw me and was ready to call 911 because she thought I had collapsed with a heart attack.
Ultimately, I am a “Triple E” kind of guy. While you may not be a “triple E” kind of person, each of you are unique. Don’t try to be someone else or try to make yourself into what someone else wants you to be. There is no one else like you and no one else could fill your place in the grand scheme of your life. Being different is good…it makes you who you are.
God has made us what we are, and in our union with Christ Jesus he has created us for a life of good deeds, which he has already prepared for us to do.(Ephesian 2:10)
You alone created my inner being. You knitted me together inside my mother. I will give thanks to you because I have been so amazingly and miraculously made. Your works are miraculous, and my soul is fully aware of this. (Psalm 139:13-14)
Josh Billings was quoted as saying, “Consider the postage stamp: its usefulness consists of the ability to stick to one thing until it gets there.” It’s a little humorous, but it really describes what many of our lives are lacking. We often seem to have a hard time sticking to one thing until we finish it.
I know I have a half-dozen jobs that need to be done around the house. I’ve started most of them, but have yet to finish all of them. It’s too easy to get distracted by all the “stuff” going on around us–much of which we could ignore if we stopped to think about the one thing we are trying to get done.
My wife and I were in Boston this week. The drive is always challenging–especially at rush hour. It requires focus and quick reflexes. One would think that other drivers would be aware of that as well. But I can’t begin to tell you how many close calls we had with drivers who–you guessed it–were holding and talking on their cell phones. All they had to do was to pay attention to the one thing they needed to focus on to reach their destination and to stay safe.
While we were walking from the hospital parking lot to the main entrance, we passed dozens of people along the way. At least 75% of them were talking on their phones–looking like they were talking to the air around them. I had no problem with them using their phones, but it was disconcerting to see them amble across streets while ignoring the crosswalks and the moving traffic. They were sticking to one thing, but it wasn’t the most important thing at that particular time.
And I know that many of you will say that they can handle all the “stuff” because they are able to multi-task–you know when you are able to do several things at the same time, and do them well. You know, like the doctor who will be doing your operation while multi-tasking. Or the pilot who will be flying your children to their grandparents while he multi-tasks. Or your mountain climbing partner who is holding the rope keeping you safe while texting his girlfriend. My guess is that you wouldn’t want any of those people to be doing anything but their main job. If the task is important or simple worth doing, stay focused and get the job done.
Keep your eyes focused on what is right, and look straight ahead to what is good. (Proverbs 4:25)
After a meeting several days ago, I couldn’t find my keys. I quickly gave myself a personal “TSA Pat Down.”
They weren’t in my pockets. Suddenly I realized I must have left them in the car. Frantically, I headed for the parking lot. My wife had scolded me many times for leaving my keys in the car’s ignition. She was afraid that the car could be stolen. As I looked around the parking lot, I realized she was right. The parking lot was empty. I immediately called the police. I gave them my location, confessed that I had left my keys in the car, and that it had been stolen.
Then I made the most difficult call of all–the one to my wife: “I left my keys in the car and it’s been stolen.”
There was a moment of silence. I thought the call had been disconnected, but then I heard her voice. “Are you kidding me?” she said slowly, “I dropped you off!”
Now it was my turn to be silent. Embarrassed, I said, “Well, can you come and get me?”
She replied, “I will, as soon as I convince this cop that I didn’t steal your car!”
Welcome to the golden years…Not me! (yet)
For the Son of man is come to seek and to save that which was lost. (Luke 19:10) Thank God He wasn’t talking about keys, but instead, about you and me.