Accepting life’s challenges
I believe you could count on both hands the number of times I’ve missed Sunday worship in my local congregation in the past 25 years. And most of those misses were voluntary -- being out of town. So rare am I sick to begin with, I was so sick last week I was beginning to believe my next trip to the church building was going to be in a casket. Yeah, I was sick! And on a holiday weekend to boot! I was beginning to think I had strep throat and was praying it wasn’t going to bloom into tonsillitis.
Most of last week I didn’t feel real well, but it didn’t hit me hard until Saturday evening. Needless to say, Sunday morning I went to the building and got everything ready to go for worship, and crashed. Sunday and Monday were spent in bed and Tuesday in the doctor’s office. I’m found to have, at best, bronchitis, probably bronchial pneumonia.
Of course, being the typical hard-headed male, I was determined to work my way through this “cold” like I always do and everything would be fine. “All I’ve got to do is keep going,” I challenged myself, and I did, right up to the point of total exhaustion.
Now the worst part of this whole episode was the weather and having to work in the yard, cleaning up tree debris and keeping the grass cut back between evening storms. Plus, I had been without home Internet for nearly a week, unable to do any work all weekend. Come to find out, I had had a lightning strike close enough to knock out my radio receiver and I was way down the list of storm-related repairs to be taken care of. I finally got my service restored this past Wednesday. Well, things are on the mend, except now my wife is not feeling well.
There was an older man who went out jogging. He was running around the track that encircles the high school football field where the team was conducting their practice. When the football players began running their sprints up and down the field, the man challenged himself, “I’ll just keep running until they quit.” So, they ran, and he ran. And they kept on running, so he kept on running. Finally, in total exhaustion, the man had to stop. While walking along to slow his cardio, an equally exhausted football player walked over to him and said, “Boy, we sure are glad you finally stopped, mister. Our coach told us we had to keep running wind sprints as long as the old guy keeps jogging!”
[1 Thessalonians 5:12-22; Proverbs 15] With all the conflict, and the suffering that goes along with it in this world today, one would think mankind would want to stop challenging himself to be bigger and greater than his neighbor, or at the least stop challenging his neighbor to become like him, even if that means dragging him down into the mud. Much too often lately we hear of mortal conflicts stemming from verbal challenges. We have a disagreement with someone and get into an argument. Voices get raised. Neither side wants to be the first to give in, to stop speaking in anger. Everyone shares the attitude, “I’ll just keep on till they quit!” So the other party stays angry. And on and on we go, eventually finding ourselves emotionally and even physically exhausted by the ongoing animosity. That leads to some pretty wild decisions being made as to how to best settle the situation.
Let me challenge you to do something very difficult to do the first couple of times. The next time you get into an argument, be the first to give in. Be the first to stop the yelling and the name-calling. Be the first to say, “I’m sorry.” It’s the quickest way to stop the vicious cycle. You’re not right or wrong; you’re being mature in your thinking. “A soft answer turns away wrath; but a harsh word stirs up anger.” Peace.
Thomas W. Bonham is an associate minister with the Floresville Church of Christ. Email him at firstname.lastname@example.org. Find his column on his blog at http://wilsoncountynews.com.
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