THE NEW EWE

"What man of you, having a hundred sheep, if he loses one of them, does not leave the ninety-nine in the wilderness, and go after the one which is lost, until he finds it? And when he has found it, he lays it on his shoulders, rejoicing. And when he comes home, he calls together his friends and neighbors, saying to them, 'Rejoice with me, for I have found my sheep which was lost!'"

Luke 15:4-6

August 4, 2010

LIFE IN THE FOLD:

There is an elderly gentleman who has recently caught my attention. I have no idea what his name is or anything about his personal life. I don't know his background or personal history. I don't know anything about his family; or if he even has a family. So how can someone who I know so little about receive my respect and admiration? It's what I see from a few seconds of observation whenever I see him.

I am a regular shopper at Walmart. It seems as if I'm in there every couple of days to pick something up. The store is only a mile from our house, which makes it a little too convenient for me. Walmart and Lowe's are my two favorite stores, and they are both a mile from where we live, which makes me a happy woman!

Our Walmart employs older folk as door-greeters. There is one particular gentleman who seems to be there most times when I go to shop in the mornings. He's in a wheelchair, but is always smiling and friendly. I see him visiting with customers as they walk in, and he always has a smile and greeting for each person. I see other older men, who are also door-greeters, often up front visiting with him. Everyone seems to genuinely enjoy being around him.

I have been there during lunch hours and have seen him wheeling his chair to his car. He will pull himself out of his chair and sit in his car and eat lunch.

I had never really thought about why he was wheelchair bound, until a few weeks ago. I was surprised to walk in and see that his right foot had apparently been recently amputated. It was propped up on a support on the wheelchair. There were bandages around the stump on his leg. His pant legs had slid up when getting into his chair, and it was only then that I realized that his other foot had already been amputated and he had an artificial foot attached.

A few days after that, I was leaving Walmart when he was getting off work. I'm guessing that due to the recent surgery he's now unable to drive. There was a Lift Van parked in front of the store that had come to pick him up, and the driver was using the lift to load the man and his chair into the vehicle. I could see him laughing and visiting with the van driver who was helping him.

I'm sure there must be days when this man is in pain or doesn't feel well. It seems as if he has a dozen reasons to stay home and not work as a Walmart door-greeter. I don't know if he has a wife at home, of if he lives alone and goes home to an empty house or apartment. I have no idea if he has kids who visit regularly and check up on him. But he always seems to be at peace and you never see him disgruntled, unhappy or complaining. He always has a smile and friendly greeting for each person as they enter and leave the store.

On the other hand, there is another gentleman who works as a greeter. I know very little about him either, but when I enter Walmart and he's working, I have yet to see him smile or hear him greet anyone. He always looks grumpy and has a huge frown on his face. If someone tells him hello, he may or may not nod at them, and acts as if he's miserable. I don't ever see any of the other employees visiting with him, like they do with the man in the wheelchair. I never see customers come in and stop by to chat with him. He never has a friendly word or smile for anyone. It makes me wonder why he's working there. It seems as if he really doesn't like people, and is hating every single minute he has to spend at his job.

It's easy to excuse his actions and think, "Well, he probably isn't feeling well." Or "Maybe he needs the income and this was the only job he could find." Or "He's probably doing the best he can." But is he doing the best he can?

I look at the man in the wheelchair, who has had both feet amputated and has to rely on a Lift Van service to transport him to and from work, and yet he has kept a positive outlook and has remained upbeat and friendly. Doesn't he have a valid reason to be grumpy and scowling and unfriendly? Yet he chooses to get up in the mornings, go to work, and enjoy his time with people. There may be many days when he hurts and doesn't feel like getting out of the house, yet he does it anyway.

When I walk in the store and the grumpy man is at the door, I tend to walk past without speaking. I tried saying hi a few times with no response. But when I walk in and the friendly man is sitting at the door, I always greet him with a smile and friendly word. When I leave I'll tell him to have a good day and smile at him. He brings out the best in me, while the other man tends to bring out my ruder, "if he's going to be grumpy to me, I'll be grumpy to him" side.

Which of these two men do you think is the happiest and most content? Without a doubt, it's the one who has made lemonade out of the lemons that life has handed him. They both undoubtably have health problems, but they have chosen very different roads in dealing with them.

What do people see in us when we're dealing with adverse circumstances? Do they gravitate to us because of the joy and the peace that we personify? When we're not feeling our best do we go around telling anyone who will listen about our aches and pains, and expect everyone to be interested and pay attention? Do we go around discussing our problems with everyone?

It's made me stop and consider what other people see in me. What do they see in my expression and hear in my words? Do I sometimes get so wrapped up in my little world and all the issues I'm dealing with that I become self-centered and fail to pay attention to someone who may be hurting? Am I so focused on what's going on with me and Jon that I only half listen to what family and friends are saying to me? I stop and question how others perceive me. Do they see me as a self-centered woman who is more interested in myself than I am in them?

It may not always be when things are in an upheaval or difficult that we become self-focused. Sometimes it's when things are going really well and good things are happening, and we're excited about something good that's taking place in our life, that we fail to be sensitive to the needs of others.

This doesn't meant that we can't get excited when good things are taking place in our life. That also doesn't mean that we can't cry and grieve and hurt when disappointments and adverse situations occur. But we need to work to keep our lives in balance. Not to become so self-centered and self-focused that we miss out when someone is hurting and needs our encouragement or a shoulder to cry on. And not to be jealous when our life is unbalanced and difficult, and someone else is being blessed.

There are seasons in life for all of us. In fact Ecclesiastes 3:1 tells us, "To everything there is a season, and a time for every purpose under heaven." The following verses go on to say that there's a time to be born and a time to die. A time to weep and a time to laugh. A time to dance and a time to mourn. A time to keep silence and a time to speak.

But in Romans 12:15 we're told to, "Rejoice with those who rejoice, and weep with those who weep."

Ecclesiastes 4:9-12 best describes how we need one another. "Two are better than one, because they have a good reward for all their labor. For if they fall, one will lift up his companion. But woe to him who is alone when he falls, for he has no one to help him up." The verses end, "A threefold cord is not quickly broken."

The truth is we need one another. We need the love and support of family and friends; not only in bad times, but also in the good. But if we are prideful and try to be self-sufficient and are continuously pushing others away when they try to reach out to us, then soon they will give up and leave us alone. Just like the grumpy door-greeter at Walmart. After a few attempts, people will soon think, "What's the use? They always want to do things on their own and won't ever let anyone do anything for them." They will feel like you don't need them or want them around. Then when they need someone or something, they're not going to call on you because of the rejection they felt when they tried to befriend and reach out to you. When they see you hurting or dealing with a tough situation, they'll not know whether or not you really want them around, due to being pushed away in the past.

I want to be someone that people gravitate to and want to befriend. I want people to see peace and joy in my life. Wherever I am, when people look at me I want them to think, "She's someone I'd like to have as a friend." I want to be approachable and people to feel comfortable around me.

A while back I was walking across the Walmart parking lot and passed by another lady who was leaving the store. I told her hi and smiled and started to walk on by. She smiled really big and said, "You have a blessed day!"

We never know how something as simple as a smile and hello can do to brighten someone's day. They may be feeling alone and like no one cares, and having someone smile and speak a kind word is what they need at that moment.

I remember all the grouches we had on occasion when I worked with customers at the bank. Sometimes you felt like all people wanted to do was gripe and complain about everything. There were days when it seemed as if everyone had got up on the wrong side of the bed and were taking out their frustrations on me and the other employees. After a while it becomes more and more difficult to smile and thank people and tell them to have a nice day. Even though there may be a few nice customers, it's the grouchy ones who can ruin your day and make you feel grouchy yourself.

It's surprising what a little courtesy and friendliness can do! Just a little word of advice: When you go to the bank, to the grocery store, Walmart, McDonalds, restaurant or wherever it may be, smile and say, "Thank you! Have a good day!" to the employee. They may seem frustrated or upset or unfriendly, but it very likely may be due to having to deal with ten people ahead of you who were rude and grumpy.

I had a girl in a drive-through at McDonalds tell me thank you because I smiled at her, told her thank you and to have a nice day. She told me that I was the first nice person she'd waited on all day, and I had made her day better.

Whether or not someone knows our name or who we are, we choose how people perceive us. Which of the Walmart door-greeters would we rather be like? Only we can determine our attitude. And only we can choose the sweetness of our words. Even when faced with difficulties, we can still have peace and a kind word for others. What do people, both those who know us and those who don't, think when they see us? I want them to see Jesus in my life. I hope that my words bring peace and kindness to each person I speak with. I want them to think back on their day and remember "the nice lady who smiled at me".

Proverbs 16:24 says, "Pleasant words are like a honeycomb; sweetness to the soul and health to the bones."

JON'S PERSPECTIVE:

I've always heard, "What more can a man take, but my life?" The actual scripture I'm think that's based on is Hebrews 13:6, "So we can say with confidence, 'The lord is my helper, and I will not be afraid. What can man do to me?'"

I've always admired the members of the early Christian church, before they even used the word 'Christian'. They were risking their lives to worship God and to be disciples of Jesus. And, yet, there were new converts all around. True, it's possible for sad, depressed people to draw others in. But to draw in such a large church, they must have been more upbeat.

And reading most of the New Testament, most of the members seem cautious, but they aren't scared of people. Their caution is of false doctrines and of sin working its way into the lives of the church members. After all, the worst the governments could do is take their lives. They couldn't take away their salvation.

No matter what circumstances a person is put into; whether they lose their home, their family, their feet, or expect to lose their lives: they can always choose their attitude. We can focus on our situation, or on the Kingdom of Heaven, and the promises for what is in store for us once this life is completed.

BIBLE TRIVIA QUESTIONS:

      1. Which man is described as being little of stature?

      2. Who, from the shoulders upward, was taller than any of the people; and was also more handsome than any of the children of Israel?

      3. Who was the king of Moab who was a very fat man?

      4. Which man had very very long hair, and cut it at the end of every year because of it being so heavy?

      5. Whose patience, according to the Bible, have we all heard of?

ON THE MENEWE:

Easy Salsa Dip

9 oz. Whipped Cream Cheese

1 small jar Salsa

Tortilla Chips

Mix the whipped cream cheese and salsa together until completely smooth. Serve with tortilla chips.

BIBLE TRIVIA ANSWERS:

  1. Zacchaeus (Luke 19:2-4)

  2. Saul (1 Samuel 9:2)

  3. Eglon (Judges 3:17)

  4. Absalom (2 Samuel 14:25,26)

  5. Job (James 5:11)

THOUGHT TO PONDER:

A guilty conscience can make for a sharp tongue!

OUR HEARTFELT THANKS TO YOU:

We love you!

Loretta & Jon

E-Mail: shepherd@grayengineers.com

http://www.graysheep.org