Love, a gift from above

In what will be a huge shock to my wife, today I’m going to write about something very personal. Yesterday, we celebrated our 34th wedding anniversary. What can you say to someone who you’ve spent over half your life with? There are no gifts or no greeting cards that could ever express the emotions that you feel when you slow down to think about the amazing people in your life. You don’t get to choose your family but your spouse… Some people have not been as blessed as we have been in finding a true match or a true partner for life. Sure, there are ups and downs but all in all, we’ve been blessed to have each other. What kind of a gift do you give to a person like that? You tell the world! Since these devotions reach around the world, that is exactly what I’m doing; tell the world how much I love my wife.

I’m not one to be serious for long, I keep finding ways to lighten the mood – so here you go: As I wrote the last sentence in the last paragraph, I thought that people are going to think that I did something horrible and this is how I’m being punished; a grand gesture because I was a complete jerk. It’s true that I can be a jerk at times, but this is written purely from the heart. We regularly celebrate what a great team we are, how we support each other (her supporting me more) but we constantly work hard at it. People ask, what is the secret? The answer is complicated to do but basically simple, keep your spouse in mind – always. This is the foundation of teamwork, putting the team ahead of your own desires or ambitions. We have always cared for each other, even when the kids were small. We knew we were stronger together than we were apart. Today, our nest is empty and when people ask how it’s going, I always reply, “We still like each other after all these years so it’s going great”.

17Every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of the heavenly lights, who does not change like shifting shadows. 18 He chose to give us birth through the word of truth, that we might be a kind of firstfruits of all he created. 19My dear brothers and sisters, take note of this: Everyone should be quick to listen, slow to speak and slow to become angry, 20because human anger does not produce the righteousness that God desires. James 1:17-20

What a verse to describe your spouse – “Every good and perfect gift is from above…” As a couple, our path to faith was a winding road. I believe that the good and perfect gift of my spouse is truly a gift from above. We didn’t have “a moment” that brought us close to God, but we did have constant reminders that faith in God and the understanding of the love shown to us by our Father and His Son was important to our lives. God’s love was consistent and reliable, just as James is reminding us here. While there is great marriage advice in verses 19 and 20, it is also great advice for living in these turbulent times.

Verse 19 really needs to be repeated, “Everyone should be quick to listen, slow to speak and slow to become angry”. In a world that we often cannot tell fact from fiction, we must take time to seek the calm in the world, God wants us to be righteous and love one another. President Kennedy, in a commencement address he gave at Yale in 1962 said: “For the great enemy of truth is very often not the lie–deliberate, contrived and dishonest–but the myth–persistent, persuasive, and unrealistic. Too often we hold fast to the cliches of our forebears. We subject all facts to a prefabricated set of interpretations. We enjoy the comfort of opinion without the discomfort of thought.” As I have been blessed with great love in my life for 34 years, I hope that you choose love, truth and peace over hate, myths and anger so you can “produce the righteousness that God desires.” You can do it because Jesus is beside you all of the way.

Peaceful

I was trying to determine if there was a difference between frustration and anger. The dictionary uses almost the exact same words in each definition but exchanges dissatisfaction with displeasure. My point is, some people will say that they are not angry just frustrated however, it’s not a big difference. In leadership positions, we have to guard against showing either of them to our workforce. The leader needs to remain calm and continue moving forward. This week, I had a conversation with a pilot from a major air carrier who told me that just last week on approach into an airport at 2am, the entire cockpit went dark, including the instruments. After the initial shock, they went into a holding pattern; he remained calm and went through the checklist to restore power to the instruments. I’m sure he suffered both anger and frustration. Once they were confident that problem was resolved, he landed without incident. In fact, he shared with me that he didn’t even tell the flight attendants until after they landed. Staying calm in an emergency is what saves lives. When we are calm we think clearer, and can process information faster than if we start getting angry. The same can be said in our daily lives. We make better decisions when we remain calm; in fact, we are much nicer to each other when we are calm. Everyone will have moments when they get really angry. I’ll bet the people around you know it when you do. Hopefully the moment comes and goes and you haven’t done too much damage to the relationships around you. What do we about those who are always angry? They are miserable to be around and almost instantly effect our outlook. Have you thought about your own actions lately? Which side of “angry” are you on? Bobby Farrin wrote the popular 80’s hit, “Don’t worry, be happy”. It’s good advice.

24Do not make friends with a hot-tempered man, do not associate with one easily angered, 25or you may learn his ways and get yourself ensnared.  Proverbs 22:24-25

A couple of weeks ago I said something about “you are what you eat.” This week it’s also about the company you keep. Have you ever noticed that you enjoy a movie much more in the theater, laughing with everyone than you do when you see it again at home? People adapt to their surroundings constantly. If we work in a pleasant atmosphere, our general disposition is good. If we dislike where we are, it shows too. The same can be said about the friends you keep or the associates you make. We are being warned in these verses that if we make friends with short-tempered people, we too will become short-tempered. Jesus was never angry; He displayed calm in the face of grave challenges. When the Pharisees tried to trick him into breaking the law, he remained calm and worked through their deceit. When the devil tempted Him, he remained calm and used the bible as His defense. These are examples of life and death situations where calm was better than anger. Jesus never showed His frustration with those that failed to believe in Him, He continued to be compassionate. Don’t let the anger take over; give it up to God in prayer. Choose your friends and associates carefully and if you have no choice but to be around them, ask God for peace and understanding in their lives and calm in yours. One of the final words Jesus spoke to us at the last supper was “Peace I leave with you, My peace I give to you.” Stay calm, you have the Peace of Jesus Christ with you all day, every day.