Is it possible that mean people are a blessing in disguise?
I’m not talking about evil people…certainly those that abuse and hurt others are never a blessing! I’m making reference to those people who “rub us the wrong way” or “get under our skin.” You know the ones…forthright, and tactless. Their words are sharp and hurtful, and they never use their tongue to uplift and edify, instead they use it to tear down and debase.
No one likes to be around someone like this. In fact, we go out of our way to avoid them.
But… Perhaps we shouldn’t.
You see, our patience is put on trial every time they grace us with their presence. Our patience literally gets a “work out” just as our muscles do when we exercise.
The apostle James writes in his book, chapter 1, verses 3 and 4, “Knowing this, that the trying of your faith worketh patience. But let patience have her perfect work, that ye may be perfect and entire, wanting nothing.”
Trials are never fun, but sometimes they can be beneficial in the growth to become a better person. I love the way Joyce Meyer puts it:
“Learning to walk in love with unlovely people and learning to be patient in trials are probably the two most important tools God uses to develop our spiritual maturity. Believe it or not, difficult people in our lives help us.”
Yes, mean people suck, but let’s “cook their goose” by allowing them to make us better!.
In less than a week, another year of my life will have been spent…gone forever, never again to relive. Re-do’s are just impossible with time.
The older I get the closer to dependency I become, and that frightens me.
As a caregiver, I work with elderly seniors, and their level of dependency varies greatly. I love caring for them. I think of my mom and my grandmother, who have passed. I think of the quality of care I would want for them, the kind of care I hope they received.
In some ways I wonder if I’m trying to make up for all the times I was not there for my mom. As I care for these dear ones, I think of myself and the kind of care I hope I will receive one day. I have faith that if I show great patience, kindness, and compassion I will in return receive the same when my time has come.
I realize I have lived longer than the years I have yet to live. In the span of ten years the quality of my life could drastically change. At my age, ten years seem but a whisper upon the wind. It’ll come and go quickly.
The older I get the more I think about dying.
I think of my mom in the last days of her life. I think about sitting by her bedside, holding her hand, and wondering if she were aware of my presence. I desperately wanted to be there when she took her last breath, but I wasn’t. For that I do great guilt. Don’t we all hope when it’s our time to go we will be surrounded by those we love? My heart breaks when I think of her dying alone.
I wonder if one day I too will die alone.
Today is Good Friday, and once again I find myself thinking of death. I read about Jesus’ death on the cross. I think of his last hours…his thirst, his pain, and the blood streaming down his body. I think of him when his Father turned his back, and in great despair Jesus cried out, “My God, My God why have you forsaken me!” In that moment Jesus, as man, was utterly alone. He experienced the total blackness of loneliness…the nothingness…an utter void of everything and everyone.
This is bad, but also it is good.
Reading this scripture I hear Jesus whisper within my heart, “Lisa, your mom was never alone…I was there, just as I’ll be there for you. I died alone so you wouldn’t have to.”
Today, His forever presence is what I will choose to dwell upon.
Anything we give to help hurting people, God will always return many times over. Not only will He meet our needs, but our joy will increase as a result of giving in love. Joyce Meyer
Lord, open my eyes that I may see, open my heart that I may love, and open my hands that I may give to those that are lonely, poor, and hurting. Let me walk through this day with eyes wide-open, and when I am my busiest remind me to pause to linger among the least of these. Amen
“Now my soul is troubled and distressed, and what shall I say? (Jesus)
Jesus was afraid. How can this be? Jesus, God incarnate, the creator of all universes, was afraid to die.
Do you ever think about dying? It’s not a pleasant thought. There are so many unknowns about this fate that we all must one day face. Even those with the faith of a mustard seed, a faith powerful enough to move mountains, find themselves troubled at the thought.
Those of the greatest faith, if they would admit it, are afraid to die, and they lie if they proclaim different. It doesn’t matter how many abbreviations follow the name no one will ever have as much faith as Jesus had when he walked this Earth. If Jesus feared how much more will we?
In the Garden of Gethsemane, he prayed to his Father to remove his cup of death. He prayed with such earnest his pores dripped with blood. He did not want to drink from its chalice.
Personally, I am comforted by my Lord’s fear. His hesitation to taste death assures me it’s okay to doubt. Doubt is nothing to be ashamed of, and it’s not a dirty little secret that we should hide. If it were, a dirty little secret, God would never have revealed Jesus’ inner struggle. That part of Christ’s story would have been omitted from recorded history. It is written so that our faith would be strengthened rather than shaken.
Jesus was human just as we. He knows how we feel because he himself has experienced it. He wants us to bring our doubts, troubles, and concerns to the Father; after-all, that is what he did. We are called to follow his example.
This week, as we walk through the last days before good Friday, may our souls be troubled.
Embrace your doubt because it leads to great Faith.
As a writer, I usually try to read some word of inspiration in the early morning hours…and often with a cup of coffee on my desk.
Today my hand reached for Strong for a Moment Like This…The Daily Devotions of Hillary Rodham Clinton. (Yes, I am aware of the plagiarism by the author Rev. Dr. Bill Shilladay, but, for lack of a better term… let’s not throw out the baby with the bath water. There’s some good stuff in there. Give it a chance.)
The scripture for today’s reading was taken from Matthew chapter 25, verses 34-35.
The scene opens to sometime in the future. King Jesus is sitting on his throne, and all the nations of the world are gathered before him to receive judgment. Matthew says that on that day the King will “separate them as a shepherd separates the sheep from the goats. He will place the sheep at his right hand and the goats at his left.”
So, what will constitute a lamb and what will constitute a goat? What will be the deciding factor as to whether this nation takes the left or as to why that nation takes the right?
The one deciding factor is simply this: The way the nation treated “…the least of these…” (I wonder upon which side America will stand.)
How we treat others is extremely important to Jesus.
Jesus views your treatment of others as equivalent to your treatment of Him. Jesus actually puts himself in the place of “the least of these.” He becomes hungry. He becomes thirsty. He becomes the stranger. He becomes naked. He becomes sick. He becomes the prisoner.
I like both lambs and goats; however, in this particular scenario, the goats are the bad guys. Yes, they are the ones wearing the black hats. They are the ones who failed to feed the hungry, give water to the thirsty, welcome the stranger, feed the naked, care for the sick, and failed to visit the prisoner.
Believe me, when this day happens you don’t want to find yourself on the left hand of King Jesus.
The amazing thing about this story is that both, the sheep and the goats, are stupefied as to why they are labeled as such, and amazingly their response to the King is the same. They both ask Jesus, “…when did we ever see you hungry or thirsty or a stranger or naked or sick or in prison…?” The King’s answer to sheep as well as the goats is virtually the same, “…I assure you when you did it [or not] to one of the least of these my brothers and sisters, you were doing it to me!”
I’ve been raised to believe that what we do with Jesus in this life determines where we will spend eternity. Jesus says what you do to others in this life is what you do to me.
This story is intended to be a glass of cold water to the face.
It is intended to wake us from our apathy.
It is intended to help us see others through the eyes of Christ.
It is intended to show us the importance of loving our neighbor as ourselves.
It is intended to show us that we cannot pick and choose our neighbors.
That our neighbors are all those whom God chooses to bring into our life. They are there for a reason. Ask God to show you that reason, and then go about fulfilling your God-given destiny.
There is no time like the present to start something new.
If you are too lazy to plow in the right season, you will have no food at the harvest.
Today’s proverb reminds me of my bulb story. (true story)
I had high hopes for the bulbs I held in my hands. As I went to the register to pay for my treasures I thought how pretty my yard would look with the new scattering of pinks, blues, and yellows. Yes, I thought, my yard would be the envy of the neighborhood. There would be tulips around the mailbox to greet Jenny our mail lady, as she delivers our mail. I pictured her smiling as she put our letters into the box. Three different kinds of daffodils would wave its yellow hues attracting the bees and butterflies, that would, no doubt, help pollinate my garden. After paying, I put my newfound bulbs in a safe place in the back seat and headed home. Once home, I put my treasured bulbs in the garage and didn’t think of them again until the next Spring when I saw the neighbors’ flowers blooming.
I had reaped what I had sown…nothing!
Oh…okay…sure I made a half-assed attempt to get something from the nothing I had done. I took the forgotten bulbs and haphazardly planted them in one of my raised beds, and again…I reaped what I had sown…a haphazard, sickly mess. After their weak attempts to bloom, I pulled them up and planted corn and cucumbers in their place. So far they are looking good.
So…what’s the “moral of the story?”
If I had to choose it would go something like this:
Intentions are wonderful and quite inspirational, but if you fail to do the nitty-gritty part, then your dream will always be that…a dream.
I stuttered horribly as a child. Verbally expressing myself was extremely difficult. Sometimes I wonder if that is why I’ve always wanted to be a writer. I spent years living with the dream of becoming a writer, but the fear of failure kept it at bay. I mistakenly thought that every single word I penned should be so “earth-shattering” as to move mountains. Of course, I was not up to such a task, so I wrote little.
Then one day a wise person told me…
“If you want to be a writer, write!”
Simple? Without doubt. Profound? Absolutely!
BUT…if we truly stop to ponder the greater truths of life, aren’t they all…simple?
I think about it now and I understand…beautiful words will never move mountains, only faith can accomplish that.
Is there something you’ve always wanted to be or to do? Take the first step toward that dream today…don’t wait.
Most likely the beginning will be arduous and even mundane but persevere, you will reap what you sow.
I thought it would be interesting to start a series from Solomon’s book of Proverbs. What is a proverb? Well according to the NLT Bible, “A proverb is a short, concise sentence that conveys moral truth.” To paraphrase, a proverb is a nugget of wisdom, and when used makes our life better. Knowledge is good, but it benefits us little until it is applied.
Beginning a quarrel is like opening a floodgate, so drop the matter before a dispute breaks out. Proverbs 17:14
There were five lanes of traffic to cross, so I patiently bid my time. When the perfect moment arrived, I pulled out of Food Lions’s parking lot, turned left, and headed West, towards home. I eased into the correct lane and was content on the journey; however, after only a few seconds of peace, I heard horns blowing and tires screeching. I glanced in my rearview mirror to see what had caused such a ruckus. It seemed the truck that had sat behind me in Food Lion’s parking lot, had recklessly pulled out in front of the oncoming traffic. A number of vehicles came to a complete stop in order to avoid an accident. The truck was now speeding, closing the distance between us.
“What in the world,” I said, thinking there must be some sort of emergency for the man in the truck to so carelessly tempt harm. He pulled up beside me on the passenger side. I noticed his window was down, and he was leaning out trying to get my attention.
My first thought… “OMG…I’ve got a flat tire…”
So, I rolled my window down to hear what he was saying. With his face contorted in anger, the man began tossing F-bombs in my direction. My stomach dropped and I wondered what in the world I had done to upset this man, and then the “B-word” came out, and I realized I was being cussed out because of a certain political sticker on my bumper.
I couldn’t believe this person would risk his life and lives of others in order to “rip me a new” over my political views.
After the initial shock wore off, I did the only thing that came to mind…I laughed. That pissed him off even more and again he bathed me with “Bitches and F-bombs.” After he had his say, he floored it and swerved in front of me. I slowed down to keep a safe distance between us. The southern bell in me wanted to say, “Bless his heart…,” the Christian in me wanted to pray, and the rebel inside wanted to flip him off.
On that particular day, I was a rebel.
Not the wisest decision on my part…I know…
For the rest of the day, I played out the scenario in my mind and rehearsed cute little comebacks, I wished I would have said to “get back” at the obnoxious man.
Sometimes I wish I could be “quick-draw” with the witty comebacks! Then, I wouldn’t have to bop myself on the head later and say, “Man…I WISH I would’ve said that!”
I believe it’s human nature to think and feel this way…but that doesn’t make it right.
Cute little comebacks do much to appease our pride but do little to accomplish peace.
Quite the opposite…it only opens the floodgate. Once the dam has broken there’s little we can do to hold back a flood. Most of the time, our best course of action is to drop the matter, or at least put it off until tempers have cooled and the subject can be discussed in a somewhat peaceable manner.
Two cannot quarrel when one will not. –David C. Egner
Holy Spirit, please temper what I say and do. I need your strength and intervention. Amen.
Epilogue…after the incident above, I peeled the sticker from my bumper, not because I was ashamed of my political views, but because I thought it best to curtail future road rage.
This morning I got up, stepped on the scale and said, “Why is this happening to me!”
I have been very diligent in exercising. Most days I run/walk 5 miles a day. My weekly goal is to do at least 25 miles per week.
Since I’ve been on this regime I’ve lost a tad over 20 pounds. The weight seemed to drop fairly easy until now. Now I’m stuck and have been for several weeks.
My weight remains at a certain number, give or take a pound, and it’s frustrating. So, this is why I yelled at the scale this morning.
It didn’t respond…it just kept flashing that damn number at me. I swear when I look at it I picture a Cheshire cat cloaked in its evil grin. I think it’s possessed.
For my morning meditations, I’ve been following Our Daily Bread Devotional Journal. Each day a passage of scripture is given followed by a short prose by that day’s author. Sometimes I can relate to the author’s point of view, and other times, though I may agree, it just doesn’t seem to apply to my situation at the moment. Usually, when this occurs I can at least find something within the passage of scripture that speaks to me.
Today was one of those days.
The author penned a story about a newly married couple who chose to forgo the usual reception, and instead, invited their guests to help them hand out a truckload of food to the needy. As I read it I thought, “Wow, that’s pretty awesome!” And then I thought, “How does this apply to me?”
Well, the answer was simple…in Galatians 5:13 we are called to “…serve one another in love.” (NLT) I do try to make this a part of my life.
However, as I read the scripture passage something else jumped off the page and landed smack between my eyes
What was it?
Well to answer…we need to go back to the subject of the evil entity, my scale.
It was NOT cooperating with me! I bust my tail, faithfully, and still, the number stays the same. I try telling myself, “Something’s wrong with it,” but in my mind, I know it speaks the truth.
Still, I wondered…why? Why God…why can’t I get past that number?
And then…God answered…
“…I advise you to live according to your new life in the Holy Spirit…then you won’t be doing what your sinful nature craves…follow the Holy Spirit’s leading in every part of your life.”
“You’ve been so disciplined in your physical exercise…now try applying that same discipline into controlling what, and how much you eat. Rely on my Spirit…he’s always there to help you.”
I have a problem with eating at night while watching tv. I’m good during the day but find myself grazing at night.
So, I’ve decided to try it God’s way. From this day forward, my goal is to eat nothing after dinner…unless it is something healthy like fruits or vegetables. I will try to be disciplined to follow this, but I’m sure there’ll times when I’m tempted beyond belief to eat the cupcake. And that’s when I’ll have to rely upon the Holy Spirit for help. He can and will give me strength during my weakness. However, I must ask for his help, and I must implement his help into my life.
Hopefully, the next time I post a photo of the evil entity below, it will be grinning back a new and lower number.
Mountains of faith rise from the valleys of failure. –Mart Dehann
Don’t hate your failures, learn from them.
This looks good on paper, but let’s face it, most of us hate failure. I know I do. I’m pretty tolerant of other people’s failure…it’s mine that I despise.
Failure is embarrassing, and what if people laugh at me…it’s happened before, and will probably happen again.
I guess that’s why it’s good to learn to laugh at ourselves. I’ve found laughter helps to ease the pain…and it lightens the mood of an awkward situation.
I like what’s written in Romans,
“We can rejoice, too, when we run into problems and trials, [failures] for we know that they are good for us–they help us to learn to endure. And endurance develops strength of character in us, and character strengthens our confident expectation…”
Now, I don’t believe God expects us to turn cartwheels over our failure, and he certainly understands our disappointment when we fail. It is for this reason–his understanding–that he seeks to encourage us in the midst of failure. God doesn’t kick us when we are down. He is our loving Father who picks us up when we fall, applies ointment to our skinned knees, pats us on the back, and whispers,
“…it’s okay my child…just keep keeping on…We’ve got this…”
Lately, I’ve been feeling God wooing me from my comfort zones, and it’s scaring me to death. I’m afraid I may goof up, look like an idiot, or a babbling fool.
And to that, it seems God is saying…
“You’re right, those things may happen…but so what…”
Looking at failure from that perspective takes away the pressure for perfection. It’s as if God is giving me permission to fail!
And…you know what? It feels good deep in my soul.
“God, I’m scared to death of what you are calling me to do, but I’m going to do it anyway; and if I fall flat on my face…I know it’ll be okay.”