“And he said: “Truly I tell you, unless you change and become
like little children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven.”
I pulled out a long row of Shasta daisies that had taken over the front of my flower bed. As I worked in the gentle sun of the winter’s day, my thoughts focused on my problems. Slowly, I sunk into a bad mood. A squirrel scampered into the garden and sat up, begging for peanuts. “Thank you,” I said to her. You’re a good distraction from my self-induced misery.” I stood up and got the bag of nuts. I threw her a handful.
“Do more than feed the squirrel,” God urged.
“Do you want me to feed the crows and the jays, too?” I asked.
“No. I want you to do more than distract from your negative thoughts,” God explained.
“If you only distract, you’ll eventually return to your judgments and feel miserable again,” He said. “Become childlike instead of judgemental.”
“Wait. What? You’ve lost me,” I said.
“Children are innocent. They see the world through eyes of curiosity and wonder. They don’t judge until they are taught to fear and hate,” God said. “Look at your life with curiosity and wonder. Don’t judge. Look with kindness and compassion, the very same way that I look upon you—with love.”
I watched the squirrel eat the peanuts. She wasn’t concerned about her problems. She lived in the moment. I took God’s words to heart and promised I would do my best to become childlike. I’d do my best to see my life, including adversity, including my past mistakes, through the lens of innocence, and wonder. I’d look at everything as if I were looking into the eyes of God. Such peace that would be!
“Honor your father and your mother…”
Dear Soul Reminders Friends,
I’m struggling to write. My best friend’s father died unexpectedly. We were together when she received the news. I’m too sad to be clever or to spin a little story. So, instead of forcing words, I’m going to simply ask that you tell your friends and family that you love them today.
I’ve been privileged to witness my friend’s journey with her father these past few years. She’s exemplified grace, dignity, patience, and kindness. She’s honored me with lessons on how to love. I’m so grateful for her friendship. I’m so sorry for her loss.
Please keep my friend and her family in your prayers today. God knows who she is. Thank you.
“Be joyful in hope, patient in affliction, faithful in prayer.”
Winter storms have kept me from tending to my garden. The ground is saturated with rain. I went out after work, with only a few minutes of light remaining in the day and turned over the soggy earth. Each shovelful was as heavy as my heart, for many plants had died from too much water.
I looked over the garden and was struck by the determination of life. Here, in the depths of winter, one storm after another, the flowers have patiently waited for this sunny day. I spied a Mask Flower peeking out from behind an overgrowth of Nasturtiums. The red blossoms looked so cheerful in the fading light that I couldn’t help but smile. I turned to walk back inside when God rested His hand on my shoulder. I stopped. “What is it, God?” I asked.
He whispered. “Everything’s going to be alright.” A Finch at the feeder burst into song as if to punctuate God’s sentence.
I nodded, not wanting to speak. I wanted only the Finch’s voice to be heard. I climbed the steps into the house and closed the door on another fine day, another great gift from God. I took the lesson from my garden to heart. I will be more patient in the face of adversity. I will be as cheerful as the red blossoms, as joyful as the singing Finch. I won’t lose hope in the storms.
“But I tell you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you.”
I often wonder what Jesus would do if He were walking the Earth today. I don’t have to wonder for too long because His words show us His heart. I know that He wouldn’t be replying to people’s social media posts with angry or defiant comments. He’d be praying for those who were against Him. He’d be bathing them with love. That’s what He told us we should be doing, too. His words are hard to swallow, I know. Out natural instinct is to lock the door and keep out those people who disturb us in some way. We want them to stay “over there.” We argue and fight with them when we have to be confronted by their beliefs or actions. But what if we tried to live by the words in red? What if we did our best to love our enemies and to pray for them? What would happen to our hearts? What would happen to our bodies? My hunch is that we’d know more peace and health.
Love heals all wounds. It heals all hearts and souls, as well. It heals families and friendships. It heals broken workplaces and communities. It heals divided nations. It can heal the whole world. It starts with ourselves. We must do as Jesus told us to do. We must love our enemies and pray for those who persecute us. He told us that to love is the greatest commandment, so why are we so often ignoring it?