A Parade of Smiles

doggyWith the exception of Sunday, my morning routine includes a little java and journalism.  On Sundays I still drink the coffee, but I skip the newspaper.

Tuesday morning, I was enjoying my morning combo, when a stranger engaged me in some meaningless banter.  As he rose to leave he said, “Well, you know we all look alike.” Then he smiled and left.

As he walked out the door, I quickly concluded that I looked nothing like him:

  • He was covered in tattoos, but I have none.
  • He had a full head of hair that glistened with grease, and my head looks like a hairless Chihuahua.
  • He didn’t have a tooth in his head, and I still have most of mine.

I smiled to myself, but before I could shake my head in disbelief, I had a Kodak moment of comprehension: I got the picture.  I saw how much “we all look alike,” and I realized the similarity is in the smile.

Your face is the canvas on which your attitude and emotions are painted.  Is your face painted with the broad strokes of angry red, the depressing colors of a frown or with the bright hues of an inviting smile?

Solomon captured this thought when he said: A person’s anxiety will weigh him down, but an encouraging word makes him joyful. ~Proverbs 12:25

Is it easier for a person to see Christ in you when you’re smiling or frowning at them?  Think about it:

  • Paul said, “I am filled with joy, and I share that joy with all of you (Philippians 2:7).”
  • The Psalmist said, “Smile on me, and teach me your laws (Psalm 119:135).”
  • David said, “When I trust your mercy, my heart finds joy in your salvation (psalm 13:5).”

When Paul prayed for the Christians at Rome, he said, “I pray that God, the source of all hope, will infuse your lives with an abundance of joy and peace in the midst of your faith so that your hope will overflow through the power of the Holy Spirit (Romans 15:13).”

When your life is abundantly infused with God’s joy and peace, you can’t help it—you just have to smile!

What’s Following You?

On Tuesday of this week, I walked the hallway of three different hospitals. My first stop took me to the room of a man who is ravaged by cancer.  I saluted him earlier this year when he was the Parade Marshall of the Celebration of Freedom Parade.  Will’s heroic deeds during World War II helped to pay for the freedoms I enjoy today.

My second stop took me to the room of a man I’ve know all of my life. I’ll always be grateful for his friendship and his help.  Johnny was one of the first people to come to my house when I was a 12 year old boy and my dad had just been killed in an oil field accident.

My third stop was the most difficult because it took me to the room of a blonde-haired and blue-eyed little girl.  At the age of 2 1/2 years she is fighting an inoperable case of cancer, a neuroblastoma.

Yesterday, I conducted the funeral of a man, I worked with my last two summers of high school.  Ralph’s face was usually marked with an ear to ear grin, and I will remember the mischievous sparkle that colored his eyes.

The sadness that has filled the lives of each of these people and their families can only be tempered by the hope that we have in Jesus Christ.  A foreshadow of that hope is see in the verses of Psalm 23.

If you feel like you are living under a cloud of despair, and walking a path full of worries and problems, you might find some comfort in the words of this Psalm and the declaration of David: Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life (23:6).

I think it is important to note that David did not say that every waking moment of your life will be filled with good times and happy days.  He did say the goodness of God and His mercy are resources that are available when needed.

Unless you have given some consideration to the meaning of mercy and its close cousin, grace (goodness), you may think they are synonymous.  To help you distinguish one from the other, let me define them:

  • Grace is when God gives you something you do not deserve.  Salvation is a good example of this.  I do not know of anyone who really deserves it.
  • Mercy is when God does not give a you what you deserve.  When a righteous God judges sinful man, He can either punish him or extend His goodness and mercy.

I’ve heard people say:  I just want what I deserve and what I have coming to me.  Not me, I want the mercy of God.

David said the mercy of God is a given, and we see this in the word surely.  It isn’t a hope so or maybe so proposition: It’s a guarantee from God.  In the Lamentations of Jeremiah, the prophet said:  It is of the Lord’s mercies that we are not consumed; they are new every morning.  Great is His faithfulness!

In the shepherd/sheep analogy of Psalm 23, we have the Good Shepherd who leads us, and guarding the back of the flock are His two sheep dogs.   One is named Goodness and the other is called Mercy.

Remember the promise of this Psalm:  Surely goodness and mercy will follow you all the days of your life.  Think of Goodness and Mercy as your lap-dogs who are just a whistle away.