I’m one for making the best use of waiting time, whether in line at the supermarket or at the doctor’s or dentist’s office. Checking my phone always comes to mind first. So, this week’s matchstick reminder is a good one: “Make conversation while waiting instead of checking your phone.” With so much attention to our phones, people around us can feel invisible. (OK, sometimes I don’t mind feeling that way, but I’m an introvert.) A lot more communication goes on today but with a lot less personal contact. I really wonder if that could be a factor in much of the depression we hear about and the suicidal thoughts—and actions! People can feel lonely in a crowd. My excuse of being a bit introverted is no excuse. Could you picture Jesus with his eyes glued to his cell phone with other people around him?
When I left Cracker Barrel, I spotted one of those long multipurpose horse trailers attached to a pickup truck in the parking lot. Not unusual here in north Texas. Three horses were sticking their heads out of their three little windows. I thought, you poor guys have to wait outside while your owners are inside feeding themselves. The truck and trailer were parked a distance from the restaurant so I decided to drive up close and say hi. When I got closer I saw I was mistaken. The horses each had their own bag of hay to munch on while they were waiting. How thoughtful. The scripture about not muzzling the ox treading the corn came to mind. I realize that particular scripture has a lot more to do with how to treat people than animals, but I believe those who have been taught to be kind to animals are a lot more likely to be kind to people. How wonderful to worship a God who is concerned not only about every one of us but about every lost sheep, fallen sparrow and ox stuck in a well.
At the Friends of the Library meeting this week, the guest speakers were a husband and wife team, retired professors, who had taken up teaching people how to write their personal stories. Each one was asked to tell a brief story from life. Some chose “climbing a tree” or about “a very old man or lady” in their life or “favorite foods.” I chose “a much loved teacher.” Most of us were older and grew up in the country so I’m sure the stories sounded almost unreal to the few younger (50ish) members. Long gone are the days when children were allowed the freedoms we older folks enjoyed as kids. I’m not saying those were better days, just different. I don’t believe in nostalgia for the “good old days,” which in many cases weren’t so good, depending on your gender, race or economic standing. But, wouldn’t it be wonderful if we could allow our children and grandchildren the freedom to come and go and play wherever they wanted without fear or anxiety about their safety.
For those new to this site, every week I include a matchstick suggestion. My youngest daughter gave me a box for Christmas last year that looks like a matchbox but with “50 ways to celebrate the everyday.“ So I’ve been sharing one of those every week. As the year goes by, fewer and fewer matchsticks are left. I’ll miss them, most of them anyway. Some are quite challenging, at least for me. This week, not so much. “Share something you’ve been saving—a nice bottle of wine, a gift certificate.” This one even I can do. Why do we save things like that anyway? It reminds me of the rich man in Jesus’ parable in Luke 12 who planned to build bigger barns to hold all his crops and goods, not knowing he was going to die in a matter of hours. What are we waiting for? Let’s live in the present! That’s where God is.
We have the verse memorized: John 3:16. It’s just one of the many scriptures in the Bible that tell us how much God loves us. But let’s think a minute about that word love. I love fried chicken and horses and NCIS. My daughters and I often close our texts to each other with “Love you!” We mean it too. But when we talk about God’s love, we mean something much more because God IS love. Love when you speak of God’s love is eternal love in action. It’s active, not passive love. His love encompasses everyone, saint and sinner. He gave his life for everyone who has ever lived or will live. God’s love is overwhelming, overpowering, humongous love, radiating throughout the universe and beyond. How can I say that? Because God is omnipresent; he’s everywhere at all times and God is love. That love was what Jesus was talking about when he gave his command to love God and neighbor. That love can be accomplished only through the power of the Holy Spirit actively working in our lives.
Sure, I can do this, no problem. “Take a break from social media” is the matchstick suggestion for this week. Let me think now, what does all that entail? Facebook and Twitter come to mind, and Instagram—is that it? No, those are just a few of the many online sources we have now that we take for granted. The social media sites are also where we get our instant news. A front-page headline on my newspaper today speculates on a jury decision in a murder trial, but I already know the outcome because it popped up on my phone. Social media is how members of my family stay connected, especially the younger ones. My Facebook account looks more like family-friends scrapbooks and a prayer list than anything else. Of course, with lots of cute animal pics and videos included. (I hide or block the nasty political diatribes—both sides.) Twitter and Facebook headlines also show up in my email. Well, maybe this won’t be as easy as I thought.
How are you feeling today? Good? Bad? Indifferent? Sometimes, if you’re like me, you can feel overwhelmed by something you’ve said or done that might have hurt another person or certainly not been the best Christian example. OK, I hope you’ve repented, asked for forgiveness and put it behind you already. In my various readings (I read a lot), I once read that no matter whether you feel you’re the best Christian or not, even if you don’t have an in-depth knowledge of Scripture or theology or often fail to achieve the Christian standards you’ve set for yourself, if the world just followed your “poor” Christian example, it would be a tremendous change for the better. Think about it. No more murder or rape or theft. No need of prisons or of mass weapons of destruction because nobody wants to kill anybody. No, the world still wouldn’t be heaven on earth, but it would sure be a lot better place than it is right now. So, don’t dwell on past sins, already forgiven and forgotten, and thank God you have Jesus in your life!