Friday, November 21, 2008

Two Ribs and a Nose

The coffee shop was busy but I was able to find a vacant little table. As I sat enjoying my cappuccino, I overheard one of the three men at the next table.

The man's voice was loud and deep as he proclaimed to the two fellows sitting with him, "You don't have to be intimated by anyone!" He set his coffee cup down, leaned back in his chair and proudly told the men how he had broken two ribs and the nose of a man he thought needed to "learn a lesson". There was no way he'd "back off".

The man appeared to be in his early fifties. He was not a young boy describing a scrap in the school yard. The fight he described sounded like a western barroom brawl. Perhaps he had not been in his right mind at the time. Perhaps he had been on medication or was drunk - although, his ability to recall the details had not been impaired. He arrogantly declared that no one could intimidate him.

Although he conducted himself in an impetuous and dangerous manner, he had a point. We needn't feel intimated by anyone. It is possible to state our point in a calm voice with rational thoughts, showing respect and listening patiently to others. Forcing our thoughts and beliefs on others results in a stand-off also known as 'the cold shoulder' or an argument or a physical fight. Just look at all the past wars and ones that are in existence today. No one wins; no one learns. But there are times when our anger burns and, boy, oh boy, it sure would feel great to smack someone. Enemies are easier and quicker to make than friends.

World peace is most people's desire. But how can it be achieved when there are many different and strong points of view concerning politics, business and religion? Here's something that makes sense to me; if we "cease from anger and abandon wrath; don't fret, it leads only to evildoing." That's from Psalm 37:8. And here's something else; "the meek (the mild mannered people, gentle in nature, those in control of their tempers) shall inherit the earth; and shall delight themselves in the abundance of peace." Psalm 37:11

For some of us it is a difficult task to control our tempers. But that ugly monster can be controlled when we stop fighting God and allow the Holy Spirit to work in us. Or we can choose our own stubborn painful way of simply biting our tongue.

Well, here's to you and world peace - I raise my cappuccino in a toast.

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Lend Me an Ear

In the coffee shop, one table over from me, a young pretty lady sat with a boy of about 10 years of age and a teenage girl - about 15. The young lady - I'm guessing she was the mother of the two children - was talking with the teenage girl, or so she said. I didn't hear her speaking. The boy was holding something that appeared to be an electronic game. He seemed very excited about it, perhaps how it worked or the great score he had obtained on the last game. With animated eagerness he told his mother something.

Quickly she turned to face him and snapped, "I don't want to hear about your xxxx all day long! I'm trying to talk!" Then she turned back to face the teenage girl.

The young boy glanced downwards then slowly raised his head and looked my way. The hurt in his blue eyes was obvious. I suppose he was also bewildered why his mother was angry and uninterested in what he thought was exciting or important.

Sometimes when we're tired or engrossed in something that interests us, we become angry with interruptions. We may even use foul language as this lady did when she snapped at her son. Some might even laughingly say, "The devil made me do it." And that may be true - it all depends on who we've decided to follow - the devil or Jesus.

If we're following the devil, then we'll live as we please, placing ourselves and our interests before others. But if we've chosen to follow Jesus, we'll want to please God by imitating His Son. Jesus didn't display anger when interrupted. Instead he took time to listen to people. Remember the woman with the bleeding disorder (Mark 5: 25-34)? Jesus listened to her and healed her. When children were brought to Jesus, His disciples rebuked them. But Jesus welcomed the little ones. (Matthew 19: 13-15)

With a little patience, we can lend an ear when someone needs or wants it.