Have you ever known anyone that suddenly passed away? He or she was living life, making plans for next year, or next month, next week, or maybe the next day and suddenly “BAM” it was OVER! My 1st wife was disabled and she was in and out of the hospital sometimes 3 or 4 times a week. The ambulance drivers knew her by first name and though she was basically house-bound every time she was put in an ambulance she witnessed to everyone of the greatness of God. While in the ER and when she was admitted into the hospital she would witness to the doctors and nurses, but I need to make comment here concerning attitude.
Paul and Silas were in the inner part of the prison, as stated in scripture, they were shackled and yet they were singing hymns to God. Did a little research as to what it meant to be in the inner part of the prison and it was for the people who had “escaped” before, the worst of the worst. Being shackled in the inner part of the prison meant they took a piece of wood about 3 feet long that had a leg iron attached to each end, stretched your legs apart and put your ankles into the shackle, and then would chain your arms to the wall above your head so you could not even lower your arms yet they sang hymns to God. In my mind the prison, made of stone, would have been damp and musty, very depressive yet they sang hymns to God.
I said all that to say this, our attitude is the “fragrance” we leave with people and how well we are received along with God’s message. The joy of God we display in our lives is the Holy Spirit “plowing the field” to receive the seed we are given to scatter. My 1st wife passed away in 2011. She stayed depressed because of the hard lot her life had turned out to be. At times when she was sick and in the hospital she wasn’t pleasant to be around. At times she was hateful, very hateful. She used her forceful attitude to intimidate the hospital staff. If the trained medical staff wasn’t taking care of her in the way that she thought was appropriate she would cause great disruption throughout the hospitals. Disruption from the staff, to the administration, sometimes even to the governing board of the hospitals she was admitted to. Many times she would witness to people and then turn around and cause chaos nullifying the effect of the God-given witness she had shared. She was chained to the wall of her prison (her disability) and instead of singing hymns to God she would be howling like the devil.
God is not the author of confusion. Am I saying to “put on a fake smile”? No, I am saying to learn to live in the joy of the Lord. I know a lady that has MS, and Lupus. She walks with a cane and ALWAYS has a smile on her face. I could sit and talk with her and her husband for hours because from the conversation flows wisdom, stamina, perseverance, and a radiant love for God. Though her body has cheated her the heart within burns for God. There are days she cannot even get out of bed but she lives for God. She knows, unlike most of society, there is something greater waiting for us. Society teaches us it is ALL about the moment and what brings you the most immediate gratification. It isn’t all about us, and it is not all about NOW. It isn’t all about stuff. That mentality is why most people are “up to their eyeballs” in debt. Joy, true joy, comes from a bubbling well from the love of God within. There are times she has the needs to share her pain and we, my current wife and I listen and comment only if we are invited to do so.
Our attitudes and expression of the joy of the Lord, as demonstrated by love, is the fragrance we leave with people we meet. People have told me before, “I can’t just make myself happy”. My question is, “Why can’t you.” Here let’s have a quick philosophy quest. Take a coin from your pocket or purse and place it face-up in your palm. Look down at the coin and let it register in your eyes and mind it is on the “head’s” side. Then turn it over onto the “tail’s” side and look at it to let it register in your eyes and mind. Now here is the quest. The head’s side is your joyful/positive/loving/grateful attitude. Your eyes saw the coin and your mind KNOWS it was face-side up. The tail’s side is your depressed/negative/fateful/cynical attitude. Your eyes saw the coin and your mind KNOWS it was tail-side up. If you “flip” the coin it will land on which ever side the elements of chance cause it to, BUT if you TAKE your coin and place it on the side you want there is NO chance in ANY SITUATION.
When I was in the midst of the situation of a disabled wife living a very restricted life we were ALWAYS strapped financially and I drove some pretty ragged cars. I was driving a 1983 Honda Civic that I bought for 200 dollars. I had been driving it for a little while and I discovered I had no tire jack. I stopped at a salvage yard and found one that would work. The following week I was driving to work on a particularly dangerous stretch of road on a steep decline and, you got it, I had a blow out on the driver’s side (the side towards the traffic). Got the car to the shoulder and praised God I had a “donut” spare tire, praised God I had JUST gotten a jack. Got the car on the jack and the tire off the car. To me it seemed as if the semi-trucks were moving into the right lane next to me. It was a very dangerous spot and suddenly the bottom fell out of the clouds. I had to finish putting the tire on in the pouring rain and I got soaked to the skin. Finally got the tires changed and back on my way. Driving to work completely wet to the skin, but it was my choice if I WANTED to be soaked to the spirit.
So, where am I going with all this? Our lives can be pleasant with the ones you love, but what after that? We may have an abundance of goods and possessions that will belong to someone else moments after your last breath. We may have hard things in our lives, disease, disability, someone you love has serious health problems. All of the circumstances in our lives are transitive. None of the situations in this world will last forever. When your life is over what happens after that? There is life after this one. A life that will never end and the choices you make in this world will determine where you will spend the next one. After man’s fall from grace God Himself already had a plan that would restore man from his wilfulness. I know there are many people who maintain a strict belief that there is no God, but if I believe there is a pure and holy God and am wrong I would have lived a moral life and I would have lost nothing, but if you live as if there were no God and you wind up being wrong you have lost everything, FOREVER. Would you rather live in the unending love and mercy of God or in the desperate, chaotic separation and torment where scripture says there will be “weeping and gnashing of teeth” and there is no hope of escaping. God’s love is so wide you cannot get around it. God’s love is so high you cannot get above it. God’s love is so deep you cannot get under it. God is eternal and so His love is never-ending. Memento Mori… remember your death. Life does not end. You will go on… your choice now determines where you are in the after life.