Joanne Otto

Author

Thank You, Fred Rogers!

Could there be a better time for a movie about Fred Rogers to be released than at what has sadly become the most stressful season of the year? Perhaps no one in modern times has dealt more successfully with what Fred referred to as “the mad that I feel”— an expression he’d once picked up from a child. He simply radiated kindness, patience, and understanding to the children on his television show and to those watching it from home.

As a young mother, I sometimes watched Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood with our two little daughters. It happened only occasionally since their TV time was also my catch-up time. But once in a while I watched the show, too, for the simple reason that I needed to.

Parenting young children can take a lot of patience, and there were times when I found mine becoming frazzled. Nothing was a greater support to me in sending out positive, nurturing vibes to our children than the model Fred Rogers provided. I never had to suppress negative feelings towards the kids after watching his show. They weren’t even on the radar screen for days afterwards. And if they started to reappear, I now had a way to deal with them—thanks to Mr. Rogers. His lessons in getting control of one’s feelings may have been targeted at children, but I found they were a priceless gift to parents as well.

Some years later I had a memorable opportunity to pass this blessing along to someone else. In the supermarket where I was shopping, loud outcries from a small child were resounding through the entire store, as were the sharp, angry words pouring out of his mother. This disturbance continued nonstop. I found myself praying, “Dear Father, if you want me to say or do anything, put them in my path.“

A few minutes later, their shopping cart rounded the corner right in front of me. I had no idea what I was going to say, but there was no ducking out now. What came to me in that moment was a message of love that surprised me as much as it probably did this mother. I found myself addressing the child: “Your mommy loves you very much. She’s just having a bad day. She doesn’t want to be angry at you, but right now she can’t help it. If you can stop crying, you can help her be the mommy she wants to be.” Evidently those were the words they were meant to hear because that dear mother thanked me, the little one quieted down, and peace reigned from that point on.

That feeling of stress, anger, and impatience tends to flare up when we feel under pressure, and at this time of year it’s easy to feel that way. The last thing we want to do is to convey that sense of pressure to young children who are under our care. Bless Fred Rogers for empowering children and parents alike to get control of emotions that are damaging both to our relationships with others and to our own self-esteem. We don’t have to let them spoil our Christmas season or, for that matter, any other time of year. We can let love starve them right out of existence. Thank you, Fred Rogers, for showing us how.

An Expanding View of Hospitality

The patriarch Abraham certainly knew how to make someone feel welcome! In taking a closer-than-ever look at Genesis 18 during a recent Bible workshop, I was impressed by his hospitable treatment of the three “men” (really divine beings with a life-changing message) who appeared near his tent in the plains of Mamre.

First, he ran to welcome them, offering them rest, water, comfort, and food. Later he stood by them respectfully and appreciatively while they ate. And then he listened courteously to the seemingly unfulfillable promise they brought: that a son would be born to him and Sarah, his barren wife, when both of them were well advanced in years. Even though Sarah laughed at the very thought of it, Abraham did not.

Abraham’s hospitality included a generous welcome, respectful attention, and open-hearted listening. And this led me to ask myself: Does mine?
• Am I generously seeking to bless others as he did?
• Am I consistently appreciating their true worth?
• Am I open to the ideas they express even when these may be a stretch for me?
And as I considered this excellent model of hospitality, I began to think: Why should this hospitable attitude be limited to those who enter my home?

Just imagine what a blessing it would be if all of us were hospitable, not only to our guests, but to everyone we have contact with, considering how we can be of support to them, valuing what God has created them to be, and honestly listening with open mind and heart to the ideas they have to share. Can anyone think of a better way to promote the establishment of God’s kingdom on earth?

But I soon realized I had to expand this view of hospitality even further. To actually do this kingdom-promoting work, rather than just delight in the thought of it, requires attention, not just to horizontal relationships with others, but also to the all-important vertical relationship with God that is at the very core of this kingdom. So, as I apply this new-found concept of hospitality to the period I reserve each morning for prayer and Bible study, I must ask myself how I’m filling it.
• Am I wasting a lot of this precious time checking my cell phone unnecessarily, making plans, mulling over yesterday’s conversations? Or am I generously welcoming our heavenly Father into my heart and mind and giving Him my undivided attention?
• Am I dutifully plowing through Scriptural passages or perhaps devoting too much of my study time just to the fascinating cultural and historical aspects of the Bible? Or am I truly drinking in His inspired Word, letting it lead me into a deeper appreciation of His goodness, power, and love and of their relevance to human needs?
• Am I focusing only on the passages that are friendly and familiar? Or am I truly willing to listen to what He’s revealing to me even if it demands moving beyond my comfort zone and perhaps even being transformed?

After I began writing this blog, I realized there was still another expansion needed in my concept of hospitality. Why should my God-welcoming consciousness be confined to what I call my “quiet time”? Why shouldn’t He be embraced, appreciated, and heeded 24/7? Wouldn’t that be the best way to leaven each day’s activities with love, joy, and wisdom? It’s certainly not as easy as it sounds. It takes constant vigilance. But especially in the God-centeredness I felt recently as I went beyond my comfort zone for a long-anticipated meeting that never materialized, I’ve seen some evidence of recent progress.

So, I’m grateful for what Abraham has taught me about hospitality. It’s given me plenty to think about! I hope the ideas it’s brought out for me will do more than just that. I hope they’ll help me to express my love for God and for my brothers and sisters in a more intentional and consistent way. And I hope some of them will bless you and others whose lives you touch. Then together we can walk out that prayer, “Thy kingdom come.” I’d love to hear what you’re discovering as you do that.

Why write about a Pharisee?

As I illustrated in a recent blog, not all Pharisees were sanctimonious hypocrites, and some even provided vital support to Jesus and his followers. So it’s not really surprising that from the moment my Daughter of Jerusalem Pharisee, Eleazar ben Judah, began presenting himself to my creative imagination, I found him lovable and admirable. To me he represented all that is noble and good in the Jewish roots from which Christianity sprang.

My Model Pharisee

At first, of course, he didn’t yet have a name. In fact, I even considered identifying him as the Bible character he most resembles: Gamaliel, the fair-minded Sanhedrin member who urged the Jewish council to let the early Christians alone as they spread their gospel. (See Acts 5:34-39.) Research, however, later revealed that Gamaliel had a son, and, for the purposes of the plot, the Pharisee in my novella could not. His relationship with his daughter Mara is central to the plot, and if a Pharisee had a son, it is unlikely that he would ever have broken with tradition so far as to teach his daughter the Hebrew Scriptures. So Gamaliel had to be sacrificed to be faithful to the historic record, and this led me at last to my fictitious friend Eleazar.

A Remarkable Father-Daughter Relationship

From the very start, Eleazar‘s relationship with his daughter Mara was what drew me to him. I could picture a conservative, dignified doctor of the law in affectionate dialogue with a spunky misfit of a young woman. By teaching Mara the Scriptures, Eleazar has rendered her unsuited to the position she’s expected to occupy in their culture. He has also unknowingly set the stage for her deep appreciation of Jesus (Yeshua) from the moment she first hears him teach. As you can see, these two characters made a deep initial impression on me. The question was: Now what?

What happens next?

Decades of my life intervened before their full story evolved, but this father-daughter duo simply would not leave me alone. Their story had to be told. Questions had to be resolved. How would this devoutly Jewish father react to his daughter’s avid interest in the teachings of a young rabbi from Nazareth? Would he go so far as to actively oppose her interest? Or would he share that interest? Or something in between? I suppose I had to wait for Eleazar to tell me himself.

Eventually he opened up to me.  I listened intently, for instance, as he patiently explained to his daughter why the Pharisees opposed Yeshua— both the surface reason and the deeper one. I watched Eleazar cautiously shepherd Mara to the Temple to hear Yeshua teach. And I wept as he regretfully shared with his heartbroken daughter the details of the crucifixion— an execution initiated by the very council on which he sat!

Rewards of the writing

Birthing the character of this Pharisee was one of the most instructive and rewarding experiences of my life. It helped me to better understand how Jesus’ Jewish contemporaries would have viewed him and why. And it enabled me to cherish even more deeply the as yet undiscovered gift that Jesus was bringing to them.

So, as I’m sure you can tell, I am grateful I got to write about this Pharisee. He was definitely one of the good ones. If you haven’t gotten to know him yet, I hope you will. And if you have, I would love to hear what message he has communicated to you.

Why bother with the Pharisees?


The Pharisee and the Publican by John Everett Millais, published 1864, from “Illustrations to ‘The parables of our Lord'”

“Hypocrites! Whited sepulchers! Generation of vipers!” With these stinging words, Jesus rebuked the sanctimonious attitude of the Pharisees. And they repeatedly questioned his religious practices, attempted to thwart his mission, and conspired to do away with him. It would be easy for Christians just to label them as the villains of Jesus’ story and simply write them off. But wouldn’t that be a big mistake? After all, there was good in them, as Jesus himself well knew, and there’s a lot we can learn through them if we understand this.

Started with good intentions
To begin with, the founders of their sect, who lived some 200 years before Jesus’ time, had the best of intentions: obedience to God through steadfast adherence to the law (Torah) of Moses. To achieve this, they devoted themselves to in-depth study of the Scriptures. Over time, however, a huge number of traditions evolved from their efforts—traditions that went way beyond the Torah in dictating what was and was not permissible in every area of daily life from food consumption to keeping the Sabbath. It was those petty traditional rules, not the Torah, that Jesus objected to and tended to disregard. By his time those rules had developed into a stranglehold on the practice of the Jewish faith, making complex demands that were all but impossible to fulfill consistently. Referring to these rules, Jesus said, “They bind heavy burdens and grievous to be borne, and lay them on men’s shoulders” (Matt. 23:4.) So much for the Pharisees’ initial good intentions.

How they got off course
Worse still, by the first century these absurdly demanding rules had lured the Pharisees into self-righteousness, hypocrisy, and scorn for others. Since their rules supposedly defined what a righteous man should look like, the Pharisees prided themselves on at least the appearance of observing them and loved the recognition they received for doing so. They became more concerned with looking good then with actually being good. Furthermore, they tended to feel smugly superior to others who were less scrupulously observant of religious traditions than they were. Jesus portrayed their smug attitude in his parable of the Pharisee and the publican, in which the former boasts of his fasting and tithing, which exceed the requirements of the law, and disdains the publican, whose prayer, by contrast, is one of sincere, meek repentance.

How Jesus treated them
Jesus had often seen the Pharisees display this self-righteous disdain toward him, as, for instance, when he healed on the Sabbath or dined with “publicans and sinners” or when his disciples ate without first washing their hands, a practice demanded solely by Pharisaic traditions. Yet Jesus didn’t return their disdain. On several occasions he dined at the home of a Pharisee, which involved sharing the intimacy of table fellowship. On one occasion when a group of Pharisees came to hear him teach, “the power of the Lord was present to heal them” (Luke 5:17.) Even Jesus’ stern rebukes were given in response to the Pharisees’ spiritual need. He must have recognized their earnest desire for righteousness and deplored its sorry drift into the self-righteousness which was cutting them off from the blessings of heaven.

How some of them supported him
And some of the Pharisees responded positively to his spiritual leadership. Individuals such as Nicodemus and Joseph of Arimathea actually became his followers. Though Nicodemus at first came to him in secret, he later spoke out courageously on Jesus’ behalf during a meeting of the Sanhedrin, the Jewish council (John 7: 50,51.) And after Jesus’ crucifixion, Nicodemus and Joseph of Arimathea showed great courage and love in openly taking Jesus’ body from the cross and giving him a proper burial in a fine new tomb (John 19:38-40.) Yes, it was two Pharisees who made this essential provision for the Master!

According to The Acts of the Apostles, Pharisees continued to be among Jesus’ followers after his resurrection and ascension. There we read of “certain of the sect of the Pharisees which believed” (Acts 15:5.) The most significant of these was, of course, Saul of Tarsus, who expanded the outreach of Christianity throughout the Roman Empire and to Gentiles as well as to Jews. Does the fact that he was a Pharisee make him seem an unlikely candidate for the role of Christian apostle? Or had his training as a Pharisee actually helped prepare him for the call? Was his mistaken persecution of Christian “heretics” motivated by the same eagerness to serve the Lord that later impelled him to support their cause once he’d caught a glimpse of its Founder’s vision?

What we can learn through them
Clearly, dismissing the Pharisees as “the bad guys” doesn’t do justice to that vision. There were two brothers in Jesus’ parable of the prodigal son, and they both needed healing. After all, Jesus didn’t end the story with the prodigal’s homecoming, but with the Father’s loving appeal to his self-righteous older son. Wasn’t Jesus indicating that the embrace of our heavenly Father is wide enough to include both the sinner and the self-satisfied Pharisee? Didn’t he expect our embrace to include both, too? Don’t folks show up in our church pews who tend to be self-satisfied and critical of others? Can we love them as much as we love repentant sinners?

And most important of all, are we meek and honest enough to catch ourselves when we start going down that Pharisee path? It’s a dangerous one with a big roadblock marked “I”! We can be grateful that Jesus, with some help from the Pharisees, made that roadblock very clear. After all, he did it for our benefit.

A Delightful Bequest

You probably wouldn’t be reading this if you weren’t a bibliophile—a lover of books. That fact inspires me to share with you a practice which, over many decades of family history, has multiplied our enjoyment of books many times over: reading them aloud together.

Most parents read aloud to their children before they learn to read for themselves, but I suspect that relatively few regularly continue to do so thereafter. I’m not sure my parents would have resumed reading aloud with my sister and me had we not found ourselves bereft of television (a blessing in disguise!) at the bungalow we lived in during our summer vacations. Our literary diet wasn’t all great literature. In fact, most of it was murder mysteries by Arthur Conan Doyle and Agatha Christie. The important thing was that it drew the family together for our mutual enjoyment in a way that television simply couldn’t match.

After I married Steve (a bibliophile to the tenth power!) we soon began reading aloud to each other. It started, as I recall, when I read Paul Gallico’s “The Snow Goose” to him while he drove us upstate from New York City. (To my delight I discovered that, by looking up regularly, I could actually read in a moving vehicle without feeling queasy!) Before long reading aloud became a real treat for the two of us at the end of the day.

Then two sweet little daughters were added to the equation, and eventually reading became a family activity. Even after they were quite capable of reading for themselves, our family’s literary explorations transformed our evening meals into magical adventures as we happily plunged into Kenneth Grahame’s “The Wind in the Willows”, C. S. Lewis’s “Chronicles of Narnia”, L.M. Montgomery’s entire Anne of Green Gables series, Lloyd Alexander’s “Chronicles of Prydain” and, of course, anything in print about Tolkien’s wonderful hobbits, to name just a few. I can still hear the girls rhythmically chanting “Read on –yeah! Read on—yeah!” as they pounded on the dinner table when there was an overly long pause from the reading to insert and chew a bite of food.

Later we began on some of the classics such as “A Tale of Two Cities” and “Jane Eyre.” If the story was fast approaching its climax when we finished dinner, sometimes we’d follow our daughters upstairs and read on while they got ready for bed. We just couldn’t wait to see how things would finally turn out.

Years later, when we were blessed with two grandsons who lived close enough to join us for dinner at least once a week, we had the joy of reading with them many of the books we had read with their mom as well as a host of new ones. We were just getting into “Great Expectations” when the frequent visits ended, but somehow the book has remained in our kitchen drawer even though any great expectations of resuming its reading have long since evaporated. Happily, the closeness forged with our daughters and grandsons over that dinner table has not!

When we look back over our parenting and grandparenting years, there are things we’ll admit we could probably have done better, but the choice to read aloud to the following generations is one we’ll never regret. To this day, reading together again as a twosome remains a highlight of our day. History, biography, fiction, occasionally a taste of poetry—we’re pretty omnivorous when it comes to books as long as they’re well written and help us to expand our horizons. Of course, both of us read individually as well, but the books we read together have played an indispensable role in the joy and liveliness of our 50+-year marriage.

So, dear fellow bibliophiles, I wish for you not only books you enjoy reading but also someone you can enjoy reading them with. Reading is not necessarily a solitary activity. Inhaling the same ideas in the same setting brings folks together in a very special way. If you’re already on board with it, be sure to spread the word. And treat yourself to “The Reading Promise” by Alice Ozma, an enchanting memoir about a father who read to his daughter every night for almost nine years until she left for college. It will touch your heart and—sometimes—make you laugh.
Now that’s what I’d call a good read!

Out of Control?

How reassuring it feels to think we have things under control! The trouble with that feeling is, however, that we never really do. And if feeling in control seems too important to us, the times when we don’t have it can be extremely stressful, to put it mildly. That’s why I feel beyond grateful for a quiet certainty that One who is both almighty and good IS in control, and always will be.

The first time I realized how deeply rooted that certainty had become was on a winter morning when I’d decided to do a few errands before the kids got home from school. We had one of those tall, narrow VW mini-buses at the time—a bright red one. My husband, Steve, had dubbed it Quad-R for “Rolling Red Rumpus Room.” So that morning I climbed aboard Quad-R and headed toward the nearest shopping mall, which was some distance away. It had snowed, but the roads had been plowed, so I wasn’t expecting any problems. But all of a sudden, a few miles out, I felt Quad-R sliding sideways off the crest of the road! What surprised me was that, even though I had absolutely no control over the car, I didn’t feel a smidgeon of fear. In fact, my first thought was that it was going to be wonderful to see how He would work this thing out. The car did, in fact, end up sliding right off the road, but it came gently to a stop against perhaps the one object on that road that would neither harm the car nor be harmed by it: a mailbox that the owner had decorated by wrapping corn husks around it. It was as if the padding had been applied for this very purpose! I was able to pull back onto the road and head gratefully home.

Another memorable instance of experiencing the reliability of this divine control occurred some years later. My husband was working in Annapolis at the time, and I was flying out there for a weekend visit. I packed a tote bag with reading material to enjoy on the flight. I also tucked into it some pieces of non-costume jewelry that were fairly valuable—at least to me—in order to keep them with me. After deplaning in Annapolis, I found a seat where I could wait for my luggage and tucked the tote under the seat. I must have been happily diverted by Steve’s arrival because, some miles from the airport, I realized I had left the tote underneath that seat. We went back to the airport immediately and searched not only under the seat but also in all the places where lost objects could be turned in—all to no avail. That bag with its valued contents was now totally out of my control. The first thing that came to mind was that even if it was out my control, it was not out of God’s control. The second was that its contents, which included some inspirational reading material, could bless someone, and that my name and address was on some of it. And I determined then and there that I did not have to allow this incident to cast a shadow over a lovely weekend with Steve. And it didn’t. Fast forward several weeks to a day when a package arrived in the mail with a return address I didn’t recognize. Inside was the tote with every bit of its contents intact. To this day I don’t know how the decision to return the bag came about. I only know for certain that it was “a God thing.”

I’m sure that you have probably experienced similar occasions when something that seemed to be out of control ended up providing a proof of who really IS in control. I hope I can encourage you to share one (or more) of them here or with someone who needs to hear about them.

Scripture Comes Alive

Even after thousands of years, the Holy Land still vividly illuminates its ancient stories. And for Scripture-lovers, experiencing these illuminations is unforgettable.

Take, for instance, my first glimpse of Jesus’ hometown. Our tour group had just crossed the Jezreel Valley only to see a huge, alarmingly steep hill towering above us. It was the site of Nazareth. Immediately the image flashed to mind of an angry mob that had led Jesus “unto the brow of the hill whereon their city was built, that they might cast him down headlong” (Luke 4:29). Until that moment I’d had no conception of the height and steepness of that hill and of the threat that such a fall would have been to Jesus’ life. How grateful I was that “he passing through the midst of them went his way”! The Holy Land had clearly illuminated for us the remarkable protection Jesus had experienced at the very start of his ministry.

Soon after this the Holy Land gave us further insight into another time when Jesus’ life was at stake. We’d arrived in Jerusalem late in the day, and by the time we reached the Garden of Gethsemane, it was already growing dark—just as it would have been on the night before his crucifixion when Jesus came here with his disciples to pray. To the west of us was a hill, Mount Moriah, on which would have stood the Temple, looming over them. Jesus well knew what fate awaited him if he remained in the vicinity of that Temple during this emotionally charged Passover festival. He also knew how easy it would be to find safety over the hill that lay to the east of them, the Mount of Olives. Standing there in the dark between those two hills, we caught a glimpse of how much, in that crucial moment, depended on his choice and realized as never before what vision, courage, and love it took to make that choice.

Experiences such as these bring priceless insights to those who love the Bible. If you haven’t yet visited the Holy Land, I hope you’ll someday have that blessed opportunity. And if you already have, please consider sharing with us a memorable Holy Land experience of your own.

What’s good about a bad day?

It has to have been the worst day of my young life so far. For the first time I was experiencing the loss of someone dear to me. Our precious Nana was the very embodiment of unselfish love. It was painful to imagine life without her.

On the bleak afternoon of her passing, my sister and I had been given a special assignment. We were to do our best to comfort our grandfather while our parents made one last trip to the hospital. What we found to talk about with Dadder on that sorrowful occasion I cannot remember. But what still stays with me is that our visit proved to be surprisingly easy—even pleasant. Under such circumstances, how could that be?

Today I think I understand, perhaps taking a hint from our parents’ grateful acknowledgement, when they returned, of what we had done. Under challenging circumstances, we’d shared a small but timely gift of joy with our grandfather, and it had given us an opportunity to draw on inner spiritual resources we didn’t yet know we had. When all is said and done, does anything satisfy the heart quite as deeply as discovering those inner resources? So precious are they that, even after a lengthy string of disastrous days, Job could confidently state, “When he hath tried me, I shall come forth as gold.”

Viewed from this perspective, perhaps there’s a lot to be said in favor of “bad days.” Or perhaps there’s really no such thing as a bad day unless we miss the opportunity it offers. I suspect that Dadder already knew this. The previous year he had written in my middle school yearbook: “May you learn to take life with its ups and downs as it is and enjoy it both ways.” He was doing just that the day Nana left us and showing us that we could do it too, turning even the worst day so far into a golden one.

What I’ve Learned from My “Ruined” Tray

The day I made this tray was a sad one. I wanted it to look like my mom’s lovely butler’s serving tray with its gracefully curved edges. In fact, I was quite pleased with the curve I’d managed to saw on the right side in my 5th grade shop class. But then the one on the left came out bumpy and too flat, and my beautiful tray was ruined. What a disappointment!

Over six decades later, as a grandmother, I can’t help smiling as I see that sturdy, useful little tray still gracing my kitchen. Even its imperfections have a certain charm to them. They didn’t ruin it after all. They only serve as gentle reminders not to let perfectionism extinguish the joy of the moment. And I can still use those reminders. Oh, yes, even now.

Not long ago I made an obvious mistake near the end of the piano accompaniment of Rachmaninoff’s “Vocalise,” which our grandson was performing on his violin for his mom’s birthday party. And to make matters worse, it was being recorded! I was in anguish over it because the rest of it had gone so well. But strangely enough, no one else seemed the least bit disturbed by my mistake.

Experts, of course, don’t make such mistakes. And I suppose I could talk myself out of doing a lot of things I enjoy simply because I don’t do them expertly. Or perhaps I could devote myself to many more hours of practice in order to develop expertise. But in most cases expertise, as I’ve learned, isn’t what it takes to spark joy in those around me. Love is. With love it’s almost impossible to “ruin” anything, and without it nothing ever quite satisfies. So perhaps, when all is said and done, the only talent worth perfecting is love.

Hearing Those Life-Changing Messages

On any given day, a simple, quiet message from God can make all the difference…but only if we hear it. So, the question is: How do we do it?

Psalm 85 declares confidently: “I will hear what God the Lord will speak.” Wanting to know more about this kind of hearing, I hunted down the original Hebrew word on my Touch Bible app to get its full meaning. I discovered that shama’ means hearing intelligently, hearing spiritually, giving undivided attention, and that it can also include agreeing with what is said and obeying it.

Now that, I thought, is an excellent description of how I’d like to receive what my daughter Meghan Williams calls those “downloads from heaven.” But in the clamor of this busy, media-saturated world, giving undivided attention to the “still small voice” that resonates at our heart’s core can be difficult. When we’re plugging through life on autopilot, it just doesn’t happen. But what if, instead of reacting with annoyance when our agenda is interrupted or thwarted, we turn aside for a moment to “hear what God the Lord will speak”? On some occasions, I’ve seen that kind of hearing change the picture dramatically.

For instance, one cloudy spring afternoon, I had just stretched out for a much-needed nap only to be accosted by the roar of one jumbo jet after another passing seemingly inches above our roof. Being a light sleeper, I was more than slightly bothered by it—bothered, that is, until I heard that inner voice gently addressing me. “Would you be feeling this way if you were hearing birds twittering or a breeze blowing?” I had to admit that I wouldn’t. Birds and breezes seemed to me beautiful glimpses of God’s creation, so how could they annoy me? But those jets were just noisy man-made machines. That was an altogether different matter.

What I heard next, however, turned me around a full 180 degrees: “Where do you think the designers of these amazing high-speed aircraft got their intelligence? Who gave those flight attendants their compassion, patience, and consideration? Who gave those travelers the wise, or loving, or productive purpose of their journey?” Suddenly I found myself in awe of what, moments before, had seemed just an annoyance. I literally began to love and appreciate those planes and to embrace them in my concept of God’s creation. Not surprisingly, I was soon peacefully resting.

I’ve had many opportunities since then to apply the message I heard that day to other, more challenging situations. It taught me how to view the very circumstance I was resenting from a more inclusive, even appreciative, God-perspective. And I know such messages are always here to be heard if only I’m willing to give them my loving. undivided attention.

I love hearing about the messages people hear from Him and the difference they make. I hope you’ll post one of your own in the comments below.

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