I made a confession before the Lord and my wife at the end of spring that I was never going to complain about the heat and humidity this summer! I made the decision right then and there when the temperatures were still moderate with the noticeable absence of humidity. The fall and spring seasons out here remind me a lot of our summer days near the coast back in northern California. There is a wonderful cool crispness on most mornings, a comfortable warmth during the day and the cooling breezes that normally blow in during the late afternoon.
Summers on the east coast are a little (okay… a lot) different! They usually start out hot and humid, get hotter and then cool a few degrees late into the night! But I decided before the comfortable weather changed that I was going to have a joyful and thankful attitude during the hot season… especially since we plan on being out here for quite a while! And for the most part, I have been able to stand true to my word. I was more than just a little tempted to complain when our air-conditioner went out back in June, but was pretty much able to control my tongue!
You also learn to adjust to the temperature differences. I now expect to get hot and wet when I go out to work around the yard or toss the ball to the dog! Since I’ve always enjoyed outdoors activities, it actually feels kind of good! What I have come to understand this summer is how to control the temperature in the house. I quickly discovered that while it is great to get hot and perspire while outside, coming back into an air-conditioned room is like walking into a freezer and can rapidly become uncomfortable. It can also be the cause of runaway sinuses and a summer cold!
So… between Piper’s inactivity and her need to stay warmer and not shocking us when we come in, I have found what temperatures work best for us in the different circumstances and activities of each day. Now that I have a little more control over the environment of the house, life is much more livable and tends to help assist in keeping a high level of JOY in us throughout the day!
In Ephesians 5:18 the apostle Paul tells us to “be filled with the Holy Spirit.” (KJV) The word ‘filled’ in this usage is in the present tense and literally means to “keep on being filled.”* The verb is passive and infers that we do not fill ourselves but permit the Spirit to fill us!* Warren W. Wiersbe also explained that in the New Testament the term ‘be filled’ usually refers to ‘being controlled by’* and that one of the evidences of a Christian being controlled by or filled with the Holy Spirit, according to Paul, is joyfulness.
Well that thought leads us right back to the earlier example of my controlling the environment of our house with the temperature settings I purposely punch into our digital thermostat. As Christians we are called to be the thermostat in the situations of life that we are involved with and not a thermometer that rises and up and down with whatever atmosphere that is being established around us.
I have found that out through personal experience time and time again, just about anytime Piper and I walk out our door! The technician who put Piper’s cute red cast on the other day was kneeling and bending over before Piper so he could see her eyes while he said a bunch of funny things. Then at one point he apologized for being so silly in his conversation with her to which I immediately replied that no apology was necessary! I then explained how special it was to both of us that he took the time to not only acknowledge her, but get right down to her level and talk with her eye to eye! Most times people just look the other way when they see us coming!
That conversation opened the door for me to tell him a little about Piper’s true outgoing and bubbly personality. I explained how people could not help but smile and laugh whenever she walked into a room and greeted them and how much it hurt me when people now ignore her… and especially those who have known her before the dementia came into play. Piper always had the ability to let her JOY flow unabashedly anywhere and at any time. It was easy for her to almost instantly control the atmosphere of most places she walked into.
You’ve heard the saying about making a frown turn upside down? Well, she was a master at that art… and she didn’t hardly have to even try… it just is a part of who she is!
Since we have been on our journey of faith for Piper’s healing, I have come to see that a major part of my responsibilities is to try and assure that Piper stays within an atmosphere of joy, faith and peace. As we walk around in public it is too easy to allow the depression and fear that surrounds us to have an inroad into our dispositions. Therefore I am constantly on the alert as to ways that I can build the faith of those around me.
Sometimes it is just a smile, at other times it’s a word of personal encouragement, but most times it is a simple sharing of our faith in God’s Word concerning His will for Piper’s health, like I did at the Orthopedic clinic a few days ago. It always surprises me of how much a little influx of faith can change the atmosphere in a room!
So what about you? Are you a THERMOMETER or a THERMOSTAT? Do your emotions, feelings and faith go up and down with the sway of the situations you find yourself involved with… or does your JOY work to change the atmosphere into one of peace and of faith? Give JOY a chance in the events of your life this weekend! Have a great weekend and keep asking yourself… “Who am I expecting to control the situations of my life today?”
*”Be Rich” A Commentary on the book of Ephesians by Warren W. Wiersbe, chapter 11