Sunday, April 27, 2008

A Better Way

“But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control.”

~ Galatians 5:22,23

Well, it’s 11:30 p.m. on Sunday evening and I am not feeling very proud of the way I acted today. Our day started out fine; Keen and I went for a 3 mile walk in the morning, followed by several hours spent in the yard planting our garden and seventeen trees. Then we decided to go to Manhattan for a movie. So far so good. Afterwards we stopped by the house where our two youngest sons live. After taking one look at the length of the grass in the front yard, I stormed inside to give Kirk a piece of my mind. It was one of those times when I spoke first and thought later. Did I need to say something to him about the situation? Yes. But did I need to get so angry and make him feel one inch tall in the process? No. To make matters worse, I got mad at Keen for not joining me in the butt chewing. (He’s always been more of a softy when it comes to the kids, which I guess balanced out my “rule with an iron fist” parenting style.) At any rate, our otherwise nice weekend ended on a sour note and left me in tears. But Keen and I worked things out, and I’ll apologize to Kirk.

“As God's chosen people, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience.”

~ Colossians 3:12

As for coming up with a column for this week, I wasn’t feeling too inspired after the way I acted. But then I came across this story about Billy Graham and it seemed very fitting. I just thank God that His mercies are new every morning - and tomorrow is a brand new day.

“Not that I have now attained [this ideal] or am already made perfect . . . but one thing I do – it is my one aspiration; forgetting what lies behind and straining forward to what lies ahead. I press on toward the goal to win the [supreme and heavenly] prize to which God in Christ Jesus is calling us upward.”

~ Philippians 3:12-14

Nestle, Don’t Wrestle

Author Unknown

The title of Billy Graham’s autobiography, "Just as I Am," says it all. His life goes before him speaking as eloquently as that charming southern drawl for which he is known.

If, when I am eighty years old, my autobiography were to be titled "Just as I Am," I wonder how I would live now? Do I have the courage to be me? I'll never be a Billy Graham, the elegant man who draws people to the Lord through a simple one-point message, but I hope to be a person who is real and compassionate and who might draw people to nestle within God's embrace. Any one of us can do that. We may never win any great awards or be named best dressed, most beautiful, most popular, or most revered, but each of us has an arm with which to hold another person, each of us can pull another shoulder under ours, and each of us can invite someone in need to nestle next to our heart. We can give a pat on the back, a simple compliment, a kiss on the cheek, a thumbs-up sign, We can smile at a stranger, say hello when it's least expected, send a card of congratulations, take flowers to a sick neighbor, make a casserole for a new mother, give a high five, say "I love you" in language our teenagers will understand, or back off even when you have a right to take the offensive.

Do you make it a point to speak to a visitor or person who shows up alone at church, buy a hamburger for a homeless man, call your mother on Sunday afternoons, pick daisies with a little girl, or take a fatherless boy to a baseball game?

When Billy Graham was asked about his secret of love, being married fifty-four years to the same person, he replied, "Ruth and I are happily incompatible." How unexpected. We would all live more comfortably with everybody around us if we would find the strength in being grateful and “happily incompatible.”

Did anyone ever tell you how beautiful you look when you're looking for what's beautiful in someone else? Let's take the things that set us apart, that make us different, that cause us to disagree, and make them an occasion to compliment each other and be thankful for each other. Let us be big enough to be smaller than our neighbor, spouse, friends, children, and strangers. Every day, remember: nestle, don't wrestle.

“Finally, all of you, live in harmony with one another; be sympathetic, love as brothers, be compassionate and humble.” ~ I Peter 3:8