The matchstick suggestion for this week: “Ask people older than you about their secrets to happiness.” Hey, it’s getting harder to find someone older than me! And older and happier than me, that could be even more difficult. OK, I do know a few people older than me, and I hope they’re happy. Older people put on a brave face, hiding their backaches and painful knees and other problems. When anyone asks me how I am, I say, “Fine!” And, most of the time, that’s true, but even when it isn’t, I still say fine. I figure though they ask, they really don’t want to hear about my aches and pains. But I am happy, and if someone asks me my secret to happiness, I can answer that question—close relationships. First and most important relationship is with God, then with family and then with friends. Other relationships can develop too, with those we don’t come in contact with that often, such as doctors, mail carriers and store clerks. God designed us to be in relationship, with him and with each other. When we are, we’re happy!
Many are the ideas and suppositions about the stories of the Bible. I read with interest an article on King David and his sin with Bathsheba in a Christian magazine. The author called David a rapist. Shocking? Yes, I have to count myself among those who heard and once believed Bathsheba was at fault too. But, years ago, I researched (read the scriptures) and wrote an article on the subject. Although I did not go so far as to label David a rapist, I did point out that Bathsheba had few options under the circumstances. For those who believe she seduced David, look at the prophet Nathan’s analogy when he confronted David with his sin (2 Samuel 12). King David is portrayed as the greedy rich man with many sheep, who takes the poor man’s (Uriah’s) one beloved lamb (Bathsheba). Nathan’s rebuke showed Bathsheba as no more guilty than the little lamb forcibly taken by the rich man. Just as the rich man used his overbearing power to take what he wanted, so did David. Bathsheba was forced to submit to the king. But, don’t believe me, read it for yourself!
For some reason my mail wasn’t picked up yesterday. Today my morning newspaper didn’t arrive on my driveway. What I take for granted and seldom think about isn’t happening! Though I tip these people at Christmas, I don’t think much about them otherwise, except when they don’t come through. “Thank someone who’s made a difference in your day.” It’s simple gratitude, but if we followed this matchstick suggestion every day, it would not only make a difference in our lives but also in the lives of others. Seeing that red flag still up on my mailbox and going without my morning paper could ruin my day. But what about all those other days in the year when the mail carrier and newspaper deliverer come through? I need to change my focus. When I focus on what others have done for me, it takes my mind off myself. It makes me look for the positives in my life, not just the negatives. Thanking others makes them feel encouraged too. Practicing gratitude is good for everyone!
“Lend you time, talents, or listening ear to someone else.” That’s the matchstick suggestion for this week, and it’s a good one. It’s even more than that; it’s a godly one. We are called to be concerned about others as much as ourselves, and concern for our self is quite a lot of concern. I did listen to several people at church yesterday who had various problems, and I offered to pray for them. That’s what you do at church. That’s Sunday morning expected. But Jesus had more than one day in mind when he gave his rule of love. Sunday is over. Now I’ve got to remember to carry his love command to give my time, talents and ear to others all throughout the week.
Whoa! “Plant a garden” is this week’s matchstick suggestion. It’s a little late in the season for that. Some avid gardeners would disagree as they continue to plant hardy greens in their vegetable gardens, but I’ll have to stick with flowers. The chrysanthemums I planted in the pots on my patio have bloomed once and are starting to bloom again, but the suggestion said garden. So I bought 50 tulip bulbs and got started. I planted about half and thought enough for today. Well, it was enough all right! After all the up-and-down bending and crawling around on my knees yesterday I’m so sore I can barely bend down to pick up anything off the floor. It’s not as if I don’t exercise regularly and do my stretches, but I abused some muscles I don’t ordinarily use and they are complaining! Not sure when those other bulbs will get planted.
My niece wanted to go to a Temptations concert near where I live, so she and her son drove down from Oklahoma to spend the night. She wanted me to go too so, of course, I did. I pictured what I had seen on TV clips of old shows the group had done. They were so classy and smooth and harmonized so well. I remembered one of their big hits was “My Girl.” After the lights went down, four gentlemen in white tuxes, the long kind with tails, strolled out on the stage. Though their harmonizing was wonderful, they were a livelier version of the Temptations—more energetic dancing, louder music, flashing lights. I thought, well, sure, these aren’t the original group. They would have been too old by now. My niece’s son and his friend who drove down to join us were probably the youngest people in the audience, but age didn’t keep the crowd from clapping and singing along. When they sang “My Girl,” the crowd got louder, standing and dancing to the music too. Reliving your youth can be fun! Then we learned one of the fellows on stage was a member of the original group. Though he had to be close to 80, he was getting down just like the rest of them. Way to go, Otis! An inspiration for us all.
Her story appeared in a major Christian magazine. Challenged by her college boyfriend to check into what she believed, she saw the religion of her parents and grandparents didn’t match up with the teachings of the Bible. This new understanding was scary and it frightened her to consider abandoning what she had been taught her whole life. It was as if her world was falling apart. What would her parents think? She couldn’t do it. She made excuses. From a childhood steeped in false teachings, she was surrounded by those who believed the same and grew up in a culture shaped by the same religion. Then she had a vision. It was Jesus on a throne being worshiped by heavenly beings. Jesus was part of the Holy Trinity! Jesus was truly God, and he was reaching out to her! She became a Christian. Sometimes it takes a vision.