John was 86 years old and it was the last week of his life.
Every two hours his wife and children were on duty to see that he was turned. If he wasn’t, he would end up with bed sores. John called them the Dream Team. One night while they were moving him, John was struggling with his pajamas. They were uncomfortably twisted and wrinkled up. He was too weak to really help himself. Just as a few words of frustration escaped his lips, he interrupted himself and confessed with a tone of disappointment, “I’m getting grumpy.” His wife laughingly responded that he was never grumpy. John replied with decisive resolution, “I determined not to be.” His wife says he never so much as frowned again.
Are you like John? Probably not. Me neither.
Saturday was opening day for my boys and their baseball teams. While the 85 degree afternoon heat was beating down on us, I found myself being grumpy about why we couldn’t have the games in the evening when it would be cooler. My four-year-old grabbed me by the face and said, “Dad, we have to choose a happy heart,” and then insisted that a snow cone would help me. So, we endured 3 whole minutes of waiting in line, listening to grumbling from others because of how long it was taking. I wanted to let her grab them by the face, too.
There are researchers that say the average person complains 15 to 30 times a day. Another concluded that 80% of conversations are just general complaining. I conducted my own research and looked at Facebook and a few news sites. I don’t supposed I’d wow you with my findings, would I?
Ships don’t go down because of the water that surrounds them. Ships go down when that water manages to get inside them. We don’t always get to choose what surrounds us, but we do get to choose what gets in. Paul said it this way:
Summing it all up, friends, I’d say you’ll do best by filling your minds and meditating on things true, noble, reputable, authentic, compelling, gracious—the best, not the worst; the beautiful, not the ugly; things to praise, not things to curse. (Phil. 4:8, The Message)
Every time I come across Philippians 4:8, I think about John. I even wrote his name down in my Bible next to it. As far as I know, he never said he was trying to live out this verse. From my perspective, however, he did. He was such an encourager and example to me.
In one of the last conversations I had with John, I made mention of how positive he sounded. He smiled and said, “When you get my age it’s not always easy to see the bright side of things. Getting old makes your eyes quit working and sometimes you have to look twice.”
Grace to you,