This morning I heard a song on the radio. “I’m waiting for the world to change.” Really? Is that like waiting for the cows to come home of their own accord? And what if the world does change? Where would that leave me? Unchanged? Left out? There is no assurance that the world will change. The only thing we can do in this world is change ourselves. Jesus left us the template. We need to change whatever doesn’t fit into that template. God will not give us too much to do at once. As we walk along life’s path, He brings just the right thing along that can be changed today. We can change that one thing today. Tomorrow there will be another thing, but that can wait for tomorrow.
Two days ago God gave me one thing to change. I was getting onto a flight to return home from a trip. As I walked down the aisle, I realised my assigned seat was next to an enormous man. Yes, I was in the middle seat, sandwiched between the rap man (music playing into his earphones so loudly that I could hear the words) and the fat man (who was actually using up a quarter of the space that I had paid for). I was irritated and feeling nearly nauseous and definitely claustrophobic. God was very merciful because it was less than a two hour flight. However, I didn’t start thinking until well into the flight that instead of being annoyed at him and wondering whether I could be allowed to request a refund of 1/4 of my ticket price, I should be praying for both him and the rapper fellow. In my heart, I was hating him because he was overweight and yet that was the only thing that I even knew about his life. That was one thing that I could change that day. I could stop the anger and irritation and just pray and it didn’t cost me anything. I feel bad that it didn’t occur to me at once, but that’s the way life is. Something comes our way out of the blue. We have a reaction and our reaction points us towards what we can change.
Let’s not wait for the world to change. Let’s change the one thing that God brings into our lives today.
Men have such an amazing ability to focus on one thing at a time. It is their strength. I’ve written about it before (1/20/13). However, at the time I first wrote about it, I didn’t add to it the perspective of how the strength of women is to see all of the potential results of their own actions and the actions of others. These two very different strengths ought to compliment one another, but sometimes they come into sharp contrast with the troubling result of starting an argument.
What happened around here this morning is a great example of how these abilities could try to divide us. This morning, my husband and I were going to go to a Bible study meeting. We usually bring a large pot of coffee along with us for the participants. Before we left, he wanted to wash up some of the dishes that were in the sink. However, it was starting to get late and I was thinking of the repercussions of being late. He was focused on finishing the dishes. Maybe you’re already seeing where this is headed. He picked up the rather large filter for the coffee pot and said that he was going to get rid of the grounds. I asked him not to. I had two reasons for that, both of which seemed valid to me and both of which seemed difficult to explain to him on the spur of the moment. I thought that it was getting late and I wanted him to finish with the dishes already so we could leave and also, the grounds were still hot and I didn’t want him to put them on my outdoor plants while they were still hot.
While those thoughts were still percolating in my brain, he was already reacting, complaining that I always tell him not to do this, not to do that. We carried on in silence for a while until a little light bulb went off revealing what had just happened. Like a man, he was completely focused on getting those pesky dishes done, convinced that he was making me happy by doing it. At the same time, my brain was visualizing all of the ramifications of him continuing with the dishes while time was moving on and of what would result from him throwing the hot grounds on my beloved plants. He was doing what men do best, focusing, and I was thinking like a woman.
Men and women both have their innate strengths. If we can recognize them for what they are, we can work together and become a stronger couple instead of reacting and resenting one another for being different. Men need to be able to focus intently on what they’re doing. It helps them to do a great job. And women need to be able to think of all the possibilities of what might happen because of their actions. Their precautionary wisdom keeps us from doing too much damage to ourselves. Using our talents and working together, we are really strong. In the case of what happened this morning, once we talked about it, we could each see what the other was doing and laugh at ourselves a bit, all the while appreciating each other for our differences. Vive la différence!
I grew up outside of Detroit during the 50’s and 60’s. When my sisters and I were young, my mother used to take us downtown Detroit once a year at Christmas time to see the window displays at the Hudson’s store, go shopping in the beautiful department store that Hudson’s was in those days and then to see a children’s concert. My grandmother lived in Detroit then too. She lived right next to the State Fairgrounds. She had a beautiful rose garden and we loved to run around the slate paths in it and peer through the tall chain link fence into the fairgrounds.
Then came 1967 and the terrible riots in Detroit. I remember being afraid when my dad went to get my grandmother and bring her home to stay with us during those terrible days. There was so much destruction in Detroit then … and they never cleaned it up. A few years later, my grandmother was able to buy a house in our small town and move out of Detroit. Many other people had the same idea. They called it white flight and my small town grew ever larger and wealthier as the white and the rich moved away from the city that had lost its self respect. Eventually, some sad young people started the horrifying tradition of burning houses on the night before Halloween, adding to the number of abandoned and uninhabitable homes in the city.
How can a city’s citizens have self respect in a city that has none? People demonstrate that they have personal self respect by keeping themselves clean, dressing in a presentable manner, and behaving properly. Why can’t a city do the same? Detroit didn’t always have 78,000 abandoned buildings in it. It started with a few hundred. Why didn’t they clean them up before it got out of hand? It’s demoralizing to live in a city that is so full of burnt out buildings. How can people pull themselves up if everything around them is falling apart?
New York City at one time was not a pleasant city to visit. It was dirty, sloppy and full of crime. People had stopped caring. Rudi Giuliani started aggressively cleaning up the city and focusing on crime reduction. Some didn’t like it but eventually his policies paid off. Detroit didn’t have a Giuliani to care enough about its people to clean it up.
Will a multi-billion dollar bailout help Detroit? I propose that it will do nothing at all if no one in the city has enough self respect to clean it up.
I’m sure this is just one small aspect of a huge problem. What do you think about self respect and how can Detroit get some?
What happens when I live just in the now?
- There is no more fear of the future and what it may or may not bring.
- Anxiety is banished.
- I’m just walking along with God, talking with Him now.
- I trust Him to take care of everything as He and I walk along this road together.
- He’s the one that knows the future. I haven’t got a clue about it.
- I know that when choices present themselves in my life, the decisions that I make will influence the direction of my life’s path, but I don’t worry about that. I just make the choice based on what’s right and wrong now. Then I don’t feel badly about the results because it was the best possible choice at the moment.
- I know that it’s an adventurous path that I’m on.
- When I’m relaxed (since there’s no more stress), the present moment is much more alive and interesting.
- Some future plans do have to be made in this world, such as: work related issues, vacations, other kinds of business, but it all becomes ‘God willing.’ God willing, there will be a vacation this year and if it does happen, it will be that much more relaxing since God allowed me to have it.
Walking with God, living in the moment with Him creates an adventurous, interesting, meaningful and stress free life. There’s no other way to go! People who don’t have that don’t know what they are missing! They think that it’s exciting to go out and get drunk and party etc. There is no excitement in that. What is there? Just heartache, troubled relationships, hangovers, and depression when parties and life don’t meet up with expectations.
The Scriptures say, “I have set before thee this day life and good, and death and evil;” …. “Therefore choose life, that both thou and thy seed may live.” (Deuteronomy 30:15, 19) Those words are in really old language. If we look at it in the light of what it means to us today, we could say: In each moment of life, we have a choice between what is good and what is not. When we choose to follow the good, we will have a fuller and more adventurous life! When we walk with God in the ever present now, we will have a more rewarding life!