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Friday, March 11, 2011

Weekly Snippet: Take Note of the Good Times

Circumstances all this week have been pulling me away from this computer, including a family funeral Tuesday and a bunch of necessary errands and unwanted distractions taking up today and tomorrow.   What can I say?  Life is a barrage of good and bad moments.  When life is coming at you full-tilt, it's important to grab on to the good things when they come, and not to dwell too much on the bad things that have steamrolled over us.  This is very hard (believe me, I know) but it is such a valuable skill.

Human beings in general are better at remembering the bad things than the good things.  I realized this when I reflected on my memories of the major family vacations I have taken.  I don't remember many details about the first time I went to Branson, Missouri, because pretty much nothing bad happened.  The details I have preserved are mostly a bunch of photos that make me say, "Oh, yeah!  I had forgotten about that."

I can, however, describe in great detail my family trip to Denver, Colorado.  My sister came down with a head cold on the first day (giving it to everyone else by the end of the trip). I can describe in lurid detail how the first hotel room we stayed in had what appeared to be blood splatters on the ceiling (I just hope I was wrong).  I can whine about how the air conditioner went out in our car and we had to spend many hours of our trip at an unfamiliar auto shop getting it fixed.  I can even remember how my sister fell asleep on the way down from the summit of Pike's Peak, only to wake up crying because her congested ears were killing her from the pressure change.  Finally, unlike many people I know, I have vivid memories of the road trip back home as well--how an electrical short made the car doors randomly lock and unlock themselves all the way back, as if they were possessed.  My memories of the sights and fun things on that trip are much more sketchy.  Why is that?

I think this is a bad habit the children of God need to break.  Paul wrote, "Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things" (Philippians 4: 8 NIV 2010).  I don't read this as the condescending dismissal, "Settle down, children.  Nothing is the matter," but rather, I see it as a reminder that we have been set free of the cares and troubles that weigh the world down.  We have time to think about (and enjoy) the good, because we can leave the bad things in God's capable hands.

There is a practical, personal usefulness in this.  It is good for both our physical and spiritual health to learn to hold on to the good things in our lives, and the habit can benefit others as well.  It isn't always easy.  In fact, it's a habit that takes effort and planning.

My great grandmother, who was one of the most upbeat Christians I've ever known, long ago developed the habit of writing in the margins of her Bible to keep her hope afloat.  Her little notes must have encouraged her on dark days, and even though I didn't know what they signified, they boosted my own hope when I discovered them a decade after her death.  For instance, in hundreds of places, I read things like, "Asked for 1-23-59.  Received 3-10-60," or "Prayed for 12-16-43 and God heard! God is so good to me!"  The dates signified a time of waiting on the Lord for something she really needed, but they bring hope even now because they prove, again and again, that with God, bad things are not forever!  Even better, the best things are yet to come!  May troubles all be forgotten, like a bad dream when we wake up.

 Before I go, I thought I'd share with you a song that has been encouraging me when I hear it on the radio.  Enjoy! 

As Moses instructed the people, concerning the Law they had heard on mount Horeb, we should also take note of what happened, so we don't forget it:
Only be careful, and watch yourselves closely so that you do not forget the things your eyes have seen or let them fade from your heart as long as you live. Teach them to your children and to their children after them. (Deuteronomy 4: 9 NIV 2010).
Have a good week (no matter what happens), and be sure to cherish the good when it comes along.  It is a blessing that could only come from the God who loves you.  You'll be happy you did!