Looking Out Our Golden Windows With Envy

TheDiscipleMD

“There once was a young boy who lived with his loving family near the top of a mountain that overlooked a beautiful canyon. Across the canyon, near the top of another mountain, the boy could see a beautiful home whose windows shone like gold. From his home, the boy dreamed of how wonderful it would be to live in such a home. He told his parents that he wanted to move to that house, but, of course, they could not. For a long time, the boy thought about how joyful it would be to live in it. One night, he decided to hike to the dream house that was on the other side of the canyon. He got up early the next morning, packed a lunch, and set out for his destination. It took the boy almost all day to hike down the mountain, across the canyon, and up the other mountain. As he neared his “dream” home, the sun was now setting in the west. He looked back across the canyon and was surprised to see a home on his mountain that had “golden” windows. There were no homes with “golden” windows on his mountain, he thought. He strained to see! He was surprised to find that it was his home. The sun’s rays had set on his house and it, too, now had windows of” gold.”

My experience over the years has been that there are many of us who go through life always looking at what others have. We never seem to realize the beauty of the simple blessings that are in our own home and life. It is easy to become envious of others. We live in a culture that promotes it! It is constantly telling us we need more. We need bigger, better and that somehow we are lacking if we don’t have the newest gadget on the market. We are bombarded on all fronts with images that tell us that we need to look a certain way, dress a certain way, and act a certain way. With time, we can become convinced that we are lacking and that, if only we lived in the house with the “golden windows”, things would be wonderful. The world in which we live even creates a mentality that we are entitled to such material things. This envy creates anger, bitterness, hate and depression. There is an Old Danish proverb, which says, “If envy were a fever, all the world would be ill.”

Comforting are the words of one of the Lord’s anointed who recently proclaimed: “I testify that no one of us is less treasured or cherished of God than another. I testify that He loves each of us—insecurities, anxieties, self-image, and all. He doesn’t measure our talents or our looks. He doesn’t measure our professions or our possessions. He cheers on every runner, calling out that the race is against sin, not against each other. I know that if we will be faithful, there is a perfectly tailored robe of righteousness ready and waiting for everyone, “robes … made … white in the blood of the Lamb.” May we encourage each other in our effort to win that prize is my earnest prayer.” (“The Other Prodigal”, Jeffrey R. Holland, GC, April 2002).

 

Who Are Those Guys? (And What Have I Become?)

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“Who are those guys?”,  (referring to those tracking the outlaws), was a question that Butch Cassidy posed to the Sundance Kid in the movie of the same name back in 1969. I was left with the same question when an old friend of mine sent me a picture of a team reunion held a few years ago,  that was held for a championship softball team I played on back in 1980. I was out-of-town and missed the event but he sent me a photo of my teammates, some 33 years later. He could have sent me a photo of any nine guys. I didn’t recognize most of them.  Forced to pick each out of a lineup, (no pun intended), I would fail miserably.

I have only attended one high school reunion. It was my twentieth. I recall they gave us badges with our names on them and a sticky photo of our graduation picture to slap on our chests. At the greet in desk I thought it was pretty cheeky to have to wear a stick on picture of me when I was eighteen.  However, I soon found out that the saving grace of the night was being able to look at that photo plastered on each of my classmates so I could recognize who I was talking to.  Of course I felt I didn’t need such identification because I looked the same.  However, my confidence soon was shattered as I saw several of my former friends first glance at my photo, then to my face,  prior to greeting me with open arms. Could it be that twenty years had changed me also? I think we all know the answer.

As an aging boomer I have come to accept the fact that my youthful look is behind me. I no longer get any glances from the opposite sex when I walk the mall nor do any flirtatious remarks come my way from mysterious women. It’s probably because they see my ring. But who am I fooling?

I am reminded that there is little room for vanity as you age. The words of the Savior found in Matthew come to mind:

“Lay not up for yourselves treasures upon earth, where moth and rust doth corrupt, and where thieves break through and steal.” (6:19)

Father time comes as a “thief” in the night and before you know it you are headed on the down side of life. And although time can rob us of our health and looks, it can be a great blessing in molding us into the kind of person that God would have us be.  In that regard, time is on our side.  Through its course, time allows for us to become more christ-like. This is the great blessing of time. I am in hopes that, through time,  all of us will be able to present ourselves to the Lord with full purpose of heart. Then he will say, “Who are those guys?’, because we will have changed and become like unto Him,  who is the creator of the plan of salvation, even our Father.

Jericho Roads

TheDiscipleMD

We all know the story:

“And Jesus answering said, A certain man went down from Jerusalem to Jericho, and fell among thieves, which stripped him of his raiment, and wounded him, and departed, leaving him half dead. And by chance there came down a certain priest that way: and when he saw him, he passed by on the other side. And likewise a Levite, when he was at the place, came and looked on him, and passed by on the other side. But a certain Samaritan as he journeyed, came where he was: and when he saw him, he had compassion on him, and went to him, and bound up his wounds…and set him on his own beast, and brought him to an inn, and took care of him.” (Luke 10:30-34)

Martin Luther King Jr. once said:

“On the one hand we are called to play the good Samaritan on life’s roadside; but that will be only an initial act. One day we must come to see that the whole Jericho road must be transformed so that men and women will not be constantly beaten and robbed as they make their journey on life’s highway. True compassion is more than flinging a coin to a beggar; it is not haphazard and superficial.”

Dr. King’s vision was grand and on a national scale. And while perhaps none of us have the ability to transform the nation and its social structure, all of us have within us the power to influence and bring about change on the Jericho Roads in  the neighborhoods and communities wherein we live.  We can help accomplish this by choosing to treat others as we would like to be treated.  Christ’s charge to love our neighbor as ourselves is a simple yet profound way of changing Jericho Roads where we reside. When is the last time we went out of our way to help someone in need without expectation of reward?

In the late 70’s I found myself stranded on a Jericho Road in a major downtown city.  My car had run out of gas on the way to work.  I had to abandon my car till I could procure some petro. By the time I could get back to my car it was several hours later.  The co-worker who brought me back to my car drove off and  left me standing next to it as I poured gasoline into the bone dry gas tank.  I jumped into the car and turned the key.  To my surprise the car didn’t make a sound. Not even a click.  “What?” I thought. I knew the car was out of gas so I couldn’t figure out why the car wouldn’t even turn over.  I got out of the car and  popped the hood.  Much to my surprise I found that someone had stolen the battery out of the car while it had been sitting on the side of the highway.  I didn’t know what to do. I just stood there staring at the empty spot that once housed my battery.  I can’t properly communicate in words my frustration level.

Just then a car pulled over beside my car. I put my hands up to block out the sun and spied  a Chey Van that was typical of the 70’s. It was beat up and painted in psychedelic colors.  The door opened and out stepped a  thirty something guy who could best be described as ‘Huggy Bear’, a character out of a police drama of the day called ‘Starksky and Hutch.’ He was wearing a fur hat and a big smile and looked every bit the part of a man who dealt in the peddling of the flesh.  As he walked towards me I wasn’t sure if I should run or embrace him.  He stuck out his hand and asked me what was the problem.  When I explained that my battery had been stolen he smiled and said, “This is a bad place to have your car break down. Let me see what I can do.” He walked over to his van, opened the sliding door and started rummaging inside.  I walked over to the van and looked inside.  The inside of the van was shag carpeted from the top to the bottom in a lime green color that shouted out to be noticed.  He pulled out some jumper cables and walked over to my car.  He then asked me how far I needed to go before I could get some help. “Only a few miles” I told him. “Great”, he replied. Then he did something that I had never seen.  He backed the front of his van up to my car and hooked his battery up by cables to my alternator. Then, smiling, he said, “You will be able to go a few miles running off the alternator.” He told me to get into the car and start her up, which I did.

I thanked him and watched as he pulled away.  He waved and I instinctively waved back. He wasn’t of my color, he wasn’t of my social class and he probably wouldnt’ have been someone who would have been part of my social circle . Yet,  as I got back in my car, I couldn’t help but think how sad it was that I had made a quick and unflattering assessment of my “Good Samaritan.” By his actions that day, he helped me see that, all of us, no matter what station in life we hold, can change Jericho Roads in the places wherein we live.  So all these years later I remember Mr. Huggy Bear, and I echo the words of the Savior when he proclaimed,   “Verily I say unto you, Inasmuch as ye have done it unto one of the least of these my brethren, ye have done it unto me.” (Matthew 25:40)

 

We Should Share This Dream!

TheDiscipleMD

In August of 1963 Martin Luther King Jr delivered his famous speech now known as “I Have a Dream”. I was seven years old at the time. I quote him from his outstanding talk.

“I say to you today, my friends, so even though we face the difficulties of today and tomorrow, I still have a dream. It is a dream deeply rooted in the American dream.

I have a dream that one day this nation will rise up and live out the true meaning of its creed: “We hold these truths to be self-evident: that all men are created equal.

I have a dream that one day on the red hills of Georgia the sons of former slaves and the sons of former slave owners will be able to sit down together at the table of brotherhood…I have a dream that my four little children will one day live in a nation where they will not be judged by the color of their skin but by the content of their character. I have a dream today.

Let freedom ring from every hill… from every mountainside, let freedom ring. And when this happens, when we allow freedom to ring, when we let it ring from every village and every hamlet, from every state and every city, we will be able to speed up that day when all of God’s children, black men and white men, Jews and Gentiles, Protestants and Catholics, will be able to join hands and sing in the words of the old Negro spiritual, “Free at last! free at last! thank God Almighty, we are free at last!”

Dr. King’s dream was that everyone would be judged by the “content of his character,” not the color of his skin, or I might add, his religion. A number of years ago I listened with interest, when a person of my faith ran for national office,  as the political “talking heads”  decried my religion with all kinds of accusations. I was left to wonder, “Who are they talking about?” It certainly can’t be the people who I know and love so dearly. I  was left to ponder the age-old question of “prejudice” and how it has played out over the centuries against different races, classes, and religions. I am also left to ponder my own preconceptions of people and cultures that are different then my own.

Perhaps we need to reflect more often on these things and try with all diligence to “judge” all those we come into contact with by the “content” of his or her character. This is the way of the Lord. Let us be patience, kind, and open to all.  We should share this dream by allowing the bell of freedom to ring throughout this great land.




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