I have a large variety of artists and music styles on my radio station shuffle in my Pandora online music account. Besides enjoying the wide range of expression between individuals and bands, their vocal and instrumental talents, their Christian beliefs and their traditions of worship, it helps me to gain a better understanding of the heart of the worshippers and their differing relationships with Papa God. It one sense it keeps me humble in the understanding that the way of my personal Christian walk is not the only way!
This morning I heard a simple Christian balled sung by the country great George Jones. His guitar picking and the soulful twang of his voice touched my heart as he sang of Jesus as the "Rose of Sharon" and the One who was always there for him. As I thought about it, I realized that many of the well known country western vocal stars of the last century had sung songs of honor unto the Lord. Sure, many of these same individuals battled personal demons in life, but they also hung unto a relationship with God deep within them. When I hear them sing a simple balled like the George Jones song this morning or an old hymn, I can’t help but hear the connection and the heart felt cry in their hearts to Papa God.
I am so glad that it is not yours or my job to judge these individuals or anyone else for that matter when their life style or choices do not match ours. As I read from the end of Jesus’ story of the prodigal son earlier today, I witnessed the total opposite response to the return of the younger brother between the father and the older son who had stayed home.
The older son was upset and judgmental toward his brother’s actions and told his Dad exactly what he thought about the whole situation. Upon hearing his older son I can just picture the older statesman sighing and putting an arm around the shoulders of the boy as he explained, “My child, you’re always with me. Everything I have is yours. But we have something to celebrate, something to be HAPPY about. The brother of yours was dead but had come back to life. He was lost but has been found.” (Luke 15:31-32 God’s Word ©)
These two men saw the same set of events from two different perspectives. While one was quick to criticize because his younger brother did not make the same choices he had, the other was HAPPY and ready to celebrate because of the lessons learned by his younger son. Besides many other things, this showed me that true and consistent HAPPINESS is an attitude of the heart and is a matter of decision.
I am sure that the Dad had many sleepless nights as he prayed over his younger son who had left the safety and comfort of his home to chase the wild things in life. But it is also pretty evident that the Father had an underlying and unshakeable trust in God to watch over the rebellious son and help the boy to learn the physical and spiritual lessons that would bring him back to his senses. I believe it was that trust in the Lord that gave the Father the ability and confidence to choose to be HAPPY even when things were strained.
He was EXPECTANT of God’s best for his younger son, even when things were looking pretty much out of control. When he saw his son in the distance walking home with his head down, his clothes dirty and tattered, and an unsteady gait most likely due to a broken and contrite spirit, unhealthy living and a lack of proper nutrition, it was easy for the Dad to rejoice and want to celebrate with the best of foods and break out the formal china!
I had two or three opportunities to choose between being HAPPY and EXPECTANT of God’s best or to complain and want to throw in the towel yesterday, last night and this morning. We had spent the afternoon with our older daughter yesterday and had a wonderful time. Piper had been fairly weak after I washed her hair earlier in the day but became very responsive and alert when Jamie came over. Things were going great after our daughter left and we went out for a quick walk… until I opened up the mail when we returned home. There was an article sent by a relative about some new potential positive research on the prevention and early detection of Alzheimer’s.
I had actually read of some similar research a few years back and at first it was comforting for me to see that our relative was taking an active interest in Piper’s health needs. As I read through the article though, I realized that the very small sampling of individuals in the test were all at the stage of the disease that Piper had been at between 2006 and 2007. In reality, the information had no relevance to the advanced stage of Piper’s situation. Piper would not even be physically able to accomplish the highly supervised and very structured steps of this natural health process… and very visably hasn’t been for several years. That realization was very hard for me to swallow.
It served to try and open up old wounds and sadly made me see again how totally out of touch and distant that these close relatives continue to be toward Piper’s needs. I had a very real decision to make as I prepared dinner. I could let go of any self-control and get pretty frustrated and upset or choose, once more, to trust God to work His change in the hearts of the relatives 3000 miles away on the other side of the country. Well, it took a little while but I finally decided to yield to God and things actually went pretty easy for the rest of the night.
Then to add to that experience, I had to get up around 2:30 this morning to attend to some of Piper’s physical needs. At that point in our dark bedroom I had a choice to make. I could allow myself to get bothered by the disturbance of my sleep or be HAPPY and rejoice while I let the joy of the Lord strengthen me and my resolve to just get going and get the job done. And thank God, that’s exactly what I decided to do and before I knew it, I was back in bed and quickly returned to a deep sleep!
But it wasn’t over yet folks! I had to face some similar needs when I got my wife up for the day and most times when she has some difficulties getting up it aggravates the shakes and jolts of the Myoclonus, lends itself to greater weakness and she tends to hang onto me which all makes it tough to get her dressed and ready for breakfast. Once again I had a decision to make. I could have chosen to get upset which would have only added to the problems and Piper’s response to me, or to take a pause, breathe in deeply and pray for God’s assistance. So, I wisely chose the latter of the two decisions and we made it through the process with Piper only sliding off the bed into my arms once in the process!
So… if my understanding is correct… you and I have a decision to make each and every day. Will we choose to trust in the Lord and be HAPPY no matter what we face throughout the day, or allow the natural unfolding of things direct the way we feel and respond? Well, you’ve seen some examples of my daily struggles and the decisions I have made. Will you do the same? The fun part comes when you make the decision of trust and are HAPPY and then get to see the look on the faces of those around you when you don’t freak out! Who says that God doesn’t have a sense of humor!
Have a HAPPY weekend! Stay in tune to the truth and surety of God’s Word, and keep asking yourself… “What or Who’s decisions am I expecting to make today?”