Wednesday, November 18, 2015

Are You Collecting More Smiles Than Sorrows?

Most of all, friends, always rejoice in the Lord! I never tire of saying it: Rejoice! Keep your gentle nature so that all people will know what it looks like to walk in His footsteps. The Lord is ever present with us. Don’t be anxious about things; instead, pray. Pray about everything. He longs to hear your requests, so talk to God about your needs and be thankful for what has come. And know that the peace of God (a peace that is beyond any and all of our human understanding) will stand watch over your hearts and minds in Jesus, the Anointed One.
Finally, brothers and sisters, fill your minds with beauty and truth. Meditate on whatever is honorable, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is good, whatever is virtuous and praiseworthy. Keep to the script: whatever you learned and received and heard and saw in me—do it—and the God of peace will walk with you.
~ Philippians 4:4-9, VOICE ~ 

Yes, I admit my title today is "cheesy-mc-cheeserton."  It wreaks of a Pollyannaish worldview.  That's not my intent.  Stay with me, because I'm truly going somewhere with this.

Over the past week I have been to 2 different funerals for 2 different fathers of school-aged children, gone too soon at their own hands.  The shock and sorrow at a time like this aches to the bone.  Grappling for words of comfort for these children and wives is a hopeless effort.  Hugs, love, and presence are the only adequate gifts at such crossroads.

Needless to say, both of these somber occasions gave me much reason to pause and reflect.  As I watched all the people who have been touched by a life pass by in single file, I wondered how they each would remember this person.  I saw photo collages of both men flooded with precious pictures of life's most beautiful moments -- accomplishments, special occasions, silly mayhem, and candid tenderness.

I couldn't help but wonder,
When my life ends, will the smiles outweigh the sorrows?

We all tend to put our best face forward when we are around others.  Yet, few know who we are throughout our days, especially behind closed doors.  Certainly no one knows us like our Maker.  In fact, He knows us better than we know ourselves!

My point is this, God reminds us in His word, "You do not know about tomorrow. What is your life like? For you are a puff of smoke that appears for a short time and then vanishes." (James 4:14, NET)

How much of that short time do we spend filling our minds with good things, focusing on the eternal, and rejoicing in the Lord?

Yes, life is difficult.  No one knows that like parents who walk our weary trail.  We have every reason for sorrow.  When our children hurt, we hurt.  Some days it seems like we face an immovable mountain.  Persistent health and behavioral issues can make us feel like things will never get better.

Still, everyone has something in their lives that brings a smile.  It may be a corny joke remembered.  It could be pictures of puppies.  It could even be a favorite dessert.  

Every little grace God pours into our lives has to be grasped, full on, and embraced with joy.  Because frankly, we don't know how long any one of us has on this earth.  While the 2 fathers I mentioned left this life because of much more complex issues, none of us know if we will be in a fatal car accident or have some unknown health incident that takes us unexpectedly.  Each day is a gift.

How do we want to be remembered?  Do we want to be remembered as wasting our years with scowls?   

Here are a few types of people that others have a hard time recalling favorably:
  • the constant complainer
  • the perpetually offended
  • the endlessly entitled
  • the ceaselessly stressed
While people want to be there for us in our darkest hours, no one can stand being with a Negative Nancy for very long.  I can think of a couple of people who are wasting their days in anger and every other negative emotion you can imagine.  I hurt for them, because they are robbing themselves of sweet moments.

Elevating our focus gives us cause to savor each day.  It gives us eternal perspective.  As our eyes and hearts are focused on Jesus, we become more like Him.  Incidentally, this makes us much more pleasant to be around. 

We don't always get to choose our circumstances.  We certainly don't get to choose our tragedies.  We typically don't get to choose how long we have to live this often-crazy life.  But we DO get to decide if we will have more smiles than sorrows.  It all depends on how we respond to those very things we didn't get to choose.

PRAY:  "Teach us to number our days and recognize how few they are; help us to spend them as we should." (Psalm 90:12, TLB)

~ Barb Dittrich

*For further reading, THE DASH by Linda Ellis

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