In his book describing years of veterinary work in the harsh Yorkshire Dales of England, James Herriot tells the story of Tip, a sheepdog at a local farm. He first encountered Tip one freezing morning, when he walked up to the farmhouse door, looking for the owner. Suddenly, from under a pile of snow at the foot of the door, Tip emerged, cheery and full of excitement. James was shocked, and later asked the farmer why the old dog was left outside.
As I was skimming headlines on an online news website, I saw this headline: “He’s a Fighter: Guo Youming Won’t Succumb to Rare Disease.” Intrigued, I clicked on the article and started reading Guo Youming’s incredible story.
As a child, his mother noticed that he walked unsteadily and had frequent falls. His condition worsened until he was diagnosed with muscular dystrophy at age seven.
On a late Saturday afternoon, traffic crawled towards the congested, narrow intersection in the large metropolis. Pedestrians zigzagged through the lanes. Lines of cars were pulling out of one of the busiest shopping malls, adding a strain to the already overcrowded junction. With no traffic lights or traffic controllers around, the traffic quickly became deadlocked.
Last Easter Sunday, I baked a lemon cake for a small group of friends gathering at my place to read the Easter story. We followed along in our Bibles, stopping to discuss interesting points as they struck us, then when it was over, we joined hands and prayed for healing and forgiveness for ourselves, our families, and our friends who couldn’t be with us that day.
As followers of Jesus, “grateful” should be our default setting when we consider that Jesus died to redeem us from an eternity of being separated from God. This should put a spring in our step and cause all the not-so-great stuff to bounce off as irrelevant. But I tend to succumb to less-than-grateful reactions, because, well, traffic, mess, stress, too little of this, too much of that. You know how it goes.
I would love it if the world were filled with joyous and godly laughter: jolly, infectious, festive, holy laughter, the kind that spreads joy to the world! “Happy arethe people whose God is the Lord!”1 I love to hear My people filled with joy, and that joy being manifested in laughter. It reaches up to Me like praise does. It is very like praise and is often mingled with praise. It is joy to the world, and a joy for Me to hear.
You may have seen the quote by American syndicated humorist Art Buchwald,1 “The best things in life aren’t things.” It has a way of popping up in my mind whenever I’m about to buy a new gadget that I’ve seen advertised or exchange a household appliance for the latest model. Sometimes I give in anyway, but at least this saying usually helps me give the purchase some extra thought and consideration.
Have you ever had a bad day just because you crossed paths with someone who was in a foul mood? Maybe it was someone on the bus or another customer in a store—someone who you normally wouldn’t have even noticed—but that one grumpy or inconsiderate person cast a pall on your whole day.
As a child, I loved to visit my grandmother Sabina’s small house in the mountains. Aunt Iota lived next door, so my sister and I would spend our days exploring with our cousins, going to the waterfall, swimming in the river that ran behind the property, or climbing the many mountains in the Mantigueira Ridge. It was heaven on earth for a city girl like me.
I’ve often wished I had a truckload of money that I could use to help others. There are many people I know who need financial help for one thing or another, and it would be great to have the means to be that help. I daydream of coming along and dropping a bunch of cash on my friends, family, and others, and watching them get out from under financial burdens and be free to enjoy life without the stress that money troubles can bring. As of now, I don’t have those means.