August 30, 2012Be glad all the time. Rejoice exceedingly. Joy in Me. Rest in Me. Never be afraid. Pray more. Do not get worried. I am thy Helper.
– God Calling, the daily devotional for Jan. 21
Blessed are the pure in heart, for they will see God.
– Matthew 5:8, NIV
There are times when I get depressed because things aren't going my way or because I didn't get something I wanted. When that happens, I usually focus on everything that's going wrong in my life and I forget about any good things that have been happening.
Not long ago, I was mired in one of those moods. It went on for some time and, each morning when I got up, I would read my daily passage from God Calling, a book my brother Mark gave me years ago when I was going through a very, very difficult time.
On the inside cover, my brother wrote: "This is a book that is very easy reading and has helped me lately through some very tough times. It has reassured me daily not to worry about anything and that everything is in his hands for those who believe."
Now, every day, the first thing I do each morning is read the passage for that day from God Calling.
The book is a very good one – to me, reading it feels a lot like God is speaking straight to you, and, among other messages, it stresses the importance of being thankful to God in times of adversity, and the importance of holding onto joy even when nothing seems to be going your way. The book reminds you to be thankful even in times of loss and to help others even when you feel like you are the one who needs help.
One daily passage says: "Refuse to be downcast. Refuse to be checked in your upward climb. Love and laugh. I am with you. I bear your burdens. Cast your burden upon Me and I will sustain thee. And then in very lightheartedness you turn and help another with the burden that is pressing too heavily upon him or her."
So, even though I know that is the attitude we should have each day, and even though I read words to that effect on a regular basis, I would still sometimes get depressed because of this or that.
Then one day not long ago I got an email from my brother that really made me stop and think. Mark had seen something that someone did that he really wanted people to know about.
I will give you the last paragraph of his email first.
"I have watched CNN every morning for last 2 years," he wrote, "and have seen tons of human interest stories. None had ever had the impact on me that this has. And he is local in our own community. This needs to get out."
So, clearly, the incident had had a tremendous effect on him.
When I read my brother's email and saw the attached picture, it had the same effect on me that it had on my brother, and I guess that's evident because this week I'm writing my column about it, which is my way of passing it on to you in the same way my brother passed it on to me.
My brother Mark is very good friends with Steve Anton, who's probably best known in Greensboro for running Anton's Restaurant for years and years. Several years ago, Steve got out of the restaurant business and started Olde Greensborough Construction, which does a lot of home renovation work in the area.
My brother's email was about a man, James, who has had quite a bit of experience with loss in recent years.
My brother explained: "This is a guy who used to do yard work for Steve and I (mainly Steve). He has lost his wife, his brother, both his legs, gone on dialysis, had his house burn down and just fell and broke his hip three weeks ago. All of this in the last five years. However, he is ALWAYS smiling and happy and joking. He says that he thinks God has allowed all this so that he can be an example for others."
My brother's email went on to say that Olde Greensborough Construction has given James some money from time to time to help him out.
He wrote: "Steve came home the other day and saw his truck in front of his house, but no James. (He had rigged up a stick to his accelerator so that he could drive.)
"Steve saw a prosthetic leg laying in his drive. (He only has one). He saw his walker a little further up the drive but no James. Then he heard a noise in the backyard. He went back there and this is what he found ..."
My brother wrote, "He had crawled back there carrying his weed-eater and was cleaning up Steve's yard to thank him for what Steve has done to help him."
So I read that and I saw the picture, and now I have learned a lesson from James and taken a lot of wisdom from his outlook on life and his attitude toward loss.
God has allowed all this so that he can be an example for others.
Which he clearly is. I've never met James but I can't imagine a better example for everyone who feels down because something hasn't gone their way, or a better example for those who come up with excuses why they can't get past something and move forward with their lives.
As it says in God Calling, "Fill your world with love and laughter. Never mind what anguish lies behind you. Forget, forgive, love, and laugh … Be calm, no matter what may befall you. Rest in Me. Be patient, and let patience have her perfect work. Never think things overwhelming. How can you be overwhelmed when I am with you?"