Tag Archives: Faith

Kindness

“Kindness is the language which the deaf can hear and the blind can see.”

Mark Twain

I routinely go up to the altar to pray in church after I have listened to Pastor Eddie’s sermon and as the congregation is signing the last hymn. I use the time to pray for family and friends, Pastor Eddie, and the congregation, as well as to confess sins and ask the Lord for forgiveness. Often, my confessions and prayers lead to tears, as they did today. I am not embarrassed about my frailty in the moment; it is cathartic. I let the Lord lead me, as I did this afternoon.

For the past few months, I have been walking up to the altar feeling an uncomfortable weakness in my legs, a result, I am sure, of my having sat too long—months at a time—and exercised too little, not daily as I should have. Others may not notice it, but I feel it most definitely. My footfalls are increasingly tentative. Time will tell if I can rebuild my strength. For now, I will leave the situation in the Lord’s hands.

As I was walking up to the altar this afternoon, a bright young lady—in all senses of the word— arose from one of the pews across the aisle with the same idea in mind that I had. For whatever reason, she wished to take my hand and to travel as a pair until it was time to kneel. At first, I was taken aback by this most unexpected gesture on her part, not knowing what to make of it. I knew it wasn’t a romantic gesture as much as a courtly one. Be that as it may, the epitome of kindness will forever be represented in my mind by her simple desire to take my hand at that moment.  I will forever remember her smile and the contagious joy she radiated.

Sandman’s Fifth Rule of Chivalry: If pretty girl takes your hand, let her. (I’ll pass on the first four rules, as soon as I have written them down.)

Unbeknownst to her, I had wrestled with feelings of abject loneliness throughout the night, spinning in my bed from side to side all night long with Raleigh to the right of me and Georgia on a pedestal at the foot of my bed. Both cats, it seemed, were doing their level best to make sure that I knew they needed me. To be clear, this feeling wasn’t despondency, nor even close to what Pastor Eddie refers to as “the dark night of the soul.”  I just have to feel, and if I do, I am going to feel with an intensity which scares most, but not me.  I am glad I do. Feeling even profound sadness proves to me that I am still very much alive, and that I have a soul.

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Photo credit: salmon-negro/Shutterstock

As the day began, I honestly didn’t know how I was going to make it through church without falling asleep during the sermon—as I had embarrassingly done last week.  Throughout the service, I sipped some iced tea, hoping the caffeine would provide enough of a lift to get me through to the end. Thankfully, our church secretary had asked me to read scripture, Mark 14: 32-42, and the fear of wanting to do it well also contributed to keeping me awake. (You can Google the scripture.)

I was struck by this beautiful young lady’s kindness toward me this afternoon, and I have thought about what she did ever since I left church. She made my day a happy and fulfilling one by shifting my focus. The first thing I wanted to do after church, if I had the chance, was to thank her, which I did.

How often do we go through our days so wrapped up in our own lives that we never stop to be kind to someone whom we don’t know or don’t know well enough?  How often do we bless others with our words and actions?

Thank you, my dear friend, for bringing joy to my heart today.

Sandman

 

(Photo credit at op of page-holding hands: lightpost/Shutterstock)

Parkland

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Photo credit: Ahturner/Shutterstock

After a tragedy as horrific as the Parkland shooting, many among us wonder, “Where is our God?” A great friend of mine, a/k/a (“Curmudgeon”), posed just such a question in one of his morning emails. With his permission, I share it with you, as well as my reply:

I have been thinking a lot recently about the religious implications of the recent Parkland shooting. This in part was stimulated by watching a recent spot on TV showing Billy Graham looking heavenward, and saying with all the emotion he could muster over and over, “Jesus loves you… Jesus loves you.” I thought to myself, “How could this be? How could He allow those innocent children at Parkland and Sandy Hook to be slaughtered if he ‘loved’ them?”

Christians will always retort, “The Lord works in mysterious ways.”

Well, that sure is a mysterious way in my book. If God wanted those children to be with him in heaven, then why not simply ascend them into heaven as was done with Jesus, so sayeth the Bible?

Anyway, I do not put these things forth as a challenge to you or your religious faith or beliefs. I thought to myself that this subject might provide a backdrop for one of your blog posts? I am sure that I am not the only one who has had these thoughts cross their minds. To me these horrible events simply do not mesh with the miracles recited in the Old and New Testaments.

Your friend,

The Curmudgeon

My reply—with some editing for clarity—was this: 

Dear Curmudgeon,
When horrible things like this happen, I always remind myself that however horrible they are, they are, after all, the acts of men.  Man has turned his back on God, and yet, always wonders where God is in moments like those of the Parkland shooting.  The Bible is replete with stories of man turning away from God—bad things happening—and then man turning back toward God.  As one who has spent the majority of his life making his living by interpreting both the letter of and the spirit of the law (you), I say it’s time to look to both the letter of and the spirit of God’s law. Were not the Ten Commandments, the original basis of all our laws? Our major universities have done a magnificent job of removing the fundamental pillars of the legal foundation of this country.  

Just look how far from the teachings of the Bible we have strayed: Look how few people go to church; how many divorced parents there are; how many broken families we have.  What about the births out of wedlock? How about our refusal to properly restrain our mentally ill? Look how cheap a value we place on the unborn. They are disposed of like scraps of meat, their organs sold for parts in an open market. All this is condoned by the majority of society, because it actively condones it, or it condones it by its silence. So when you say, “How could God let this happen?” (Paraphrasing.) The first thing I say is “How could man let this happen?” How can we let this happen? And yet we let it.  I can’t really write about this in my blog, because some of these ideas are not mine. They belong to a young man who was a summer intern at Sharon United Methodist church. He preached them to us in a sermon. At least, that is the way that I remember it. (On second thought, maybe I’ll just give him credit.) Thank you Spencer, wherever you are.

Look at what we have just learned about the sheriff’s department in Broward County. As it stands now, it looks like up to four deputies stood by and did nothing in the crucial moments during the shooting when they could have intervened, taken out the shooter, and ended the bloodbath.

I can’t give up my faith. I’ll never give it up. I live by it, and faith in Jesus Christ has served me well.  Jesus is mine, because I claim him, and I am surrounded by his love. The first question I ask myself before any action is “Am I living more in accordance with the Lord’s Commandments?”  Just think how different society would be if more people embraced His teachings.  Even if one were to prove that God did not exist, and Jesus were a fantasy, how different would the world be if everyone’s first act was to love his God with all his heart, mind and soul and to love his neighbor as himself.

Have a blessed day,
Sandman

 

(Photo credit-top of page-Church: Betty Shelton/Shutterstock)