Misunderstood–The Nutty Truth

nuts 1While I was in quarantine, there were a few people who just didn’t understand my condition. Those people felt like I should just “snap out of it” and live a normal life. I spent a lot of time trying to explain Multiple Chemical Sensitivity to them, but they just didn’t get it. Since perfume and fabric softener didn’t make them sick, they didn’t see why it should bother me. In their mind, I was just a nut.

pecansI didn’t like having them think I was nutty. It hurt my feelings. It made me feel very small and insignificant. I wasted a lot of time trying to “prove” that I was right. I spent countless sleepless nights gathering data and devising “wise” arguments. Eventually, though, I learned an important truth—some people can’t be convinced. Some people simply can’t understand. Other people simply don’t want to understand. And trying to convince those people to see things my way is a complete waste of time. I also learned that allowing other people’s opinions to define how I felt about myself was STUPID. After all, what’s so bad about being seen as a nut? Nuts have all kinds of good things inside of them. Even if some people are allergic to nuts, most people really enjoy them. In fact, it could be said that a chocolate sundae doesn’t have the ability to reach the level of divine delectability without a sprinkling of nuts on the top!

hazelnutsFriends, I’ve learned that freedom comes when you relinquish your reputation into God’s hands. When people misunderstand despite being presented with the facts, it’s the only thing you CAN do. Stressing, worrying, questioning, reasoning, explaining—doesn’t do a lick of good, and it’s EXHAUSTING. Being misjudged is hard, but Jesus went through it too. 1 Peter 2:21b-23 says, “Christ is your example. Follow in His steps. He never…answered back when insulted; when He suffered He did not threaten to get even; He left his case in the hands of God who always judges fairly.”

Although it hurts to be misunderstood, it hurts more to worry about it.

Quiet Times

leaves 12Before my illness struck, I used to run around in a thousand different directions trying to do hundreds of things all at once. I was busy, happy, and focused. I felt like I had a handle on the world and that anything was possible. Then I became ill, and I was put into quarantine. I could only talk to friends and extended family through a closed window. I had to be constantly vigilant about my health. The restrictions were enormous. Suddenly, all of the outside noise from the world ended. Suddenly, all of my IMPORTANT projects were suspended. The culture shock was unimaginable. The life I used to live…just stopped.

dandelionMy first year of quarantine was a nightmarish blur. I don’t really remember much about it. I was extremely ill, and I was struggling with adjustments. By my second year, cabin fever really hit me hard. I know that “quarantine” is difficult for some people to grasp, so let me spell it out for you. I had to quit my job. I couldn’t drive. I couldn’t go to church. I couldn’t go to stores. I couldn’t go to restaurants. I couldn’t go to the movies. I couldn’t go out with friends. Most of the time, I couldn’t even leave my house to go to the mailbox. If a neighbor was running their dryer or mowing their lawn, I couldn’t go outside. If a ditch was being burned, or a field was being sprayed, or if the air was too smoggy, I had to stay inside my home. I spent lots of time with my nose pressed up against the glass watching the world pass by. It wasn’t exactly fun–and sometimes, I felt like I was going to go crazy!

waterfall 11So what did I do? The first year, I focused on survival. The second, I went a little nuts and threw all kinds of temper fits directed at God. But gradually, I began adjusting to my new lifestyle. I began studying Scripture, memorizing verses, and writing novels. As the years passed, I began appreciating the silence and the peace of quarantine. I began realizing that happiness could be found—even in the midst of tragedy. For hours at a time, I would sit in chair and just listen to what I felt God was saying to me. I began discovering the blessing hidden in the quiet.

sea gullI was in quarantine for seven years. Eventually, my health recovered to the point where I could take “field trips” and visit stores. One of the things that shocked me was the sheer volume of noise. I can remember walking into Walmart and clutching my hands over my ears. It felt like I was being bombarded by sound. All around me, people were talking and laughing, and above all their clamor, canned music was playing. The intensity of the sound made me nauseous. When I went to restaurants, I had to make sure my seat was facing the wall—watching the movement of people in conjunction with the high volume of sound would bring on a migraine. After seven years of sensory deprivation, it was difficult to readjust to movement, noise, and extra stimulation. But as time passed, I slowly adjusted. I began enjoying the noise and excitement again. It felt like I’d been asleep for a long time, and I was suddenly awakening to life! It was wonderful!

butterflyI still have some health issues, and I’m not completely integrated into my old lifestyle yet, but each day, I’m getting better. As I continue to recover, I’m trying to take the lessons I learned during quarantine with me. And one of the most important lessons is that although the world can be exciting, taking time out to enjoy quiet times can be a blessing. I never want to forget that in complete silence comes the greatest sound of all—the whisper of God telling me that He loves me and that everything is going to be okay. I never want to get so busy and enamored with “noise” that I forget the simple beauty of peace.

 

Ocean at sunset 2“In quietness and confidence is your strength.” – Isaiah 30:15b (Living Bible)

 

Judith Rolfs–Author Interview

Judith

Dear Friends, it’s my pleasure to introduce you to Judith Rolfs! Judith is not only a Christian author, she’s also an amazing person! I met her through Prism Book Group, and I’ve been impressed with her intelligence, her compassion, and her love of the Lord. I feel honored to have her on my blog!

Danele: Judith, I’m so glad that you’re able to be with us today!

Judith: I’m delighted to be with you, Danele, and I’m excited to have this opportunity to meet your readers.

Danele: I’m sure my readers are excited to learn more about you—I know that I am! Judith, can you tell us when you gave your heart to Christ? What were the circumstances surrounding your decision?

Judith: In my thirties, I’d been an automatic churchgoer simply because it seemed to be the thing to do, not because my heart was it. My family life seemed very complete, but I still had a deep gnawing that there must be something more. I began to explore the complexity of the natural world around me – I always loved nature – and also I began studying all religions. One night, I actually had an experience of the Holy Spirit whom I’d been studying in Scripture when I was home alone – my husband traveled a lot for his work – I can best describe it as a simultaneous feeling of peace and deep joy. This experience along with my intellectual assent from my studying moved me from agnosticism to faith in God the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. I love observing the fascinating features of each human being’s life and the way God orchestrates individual lives.

Danele: It’s so amazing how God meets each of us in unique and powerful ways. My illness taught me the importance of trusting God.  Have you had a situation in your life when you needed to totally rely on God?

Judith: I depended on God to get me through treatment for active Hepatitis C and two macula hole surgeries that required being still and face down for three weeks each time. Soon after, I developed Lyme’s disease and was ill for one and a half years. By God’s mercy and grace I am completely restored.

Danele: That’s amazing, Judith! I’m so glad that you’re well again!

Judith: God is still a healing God. I pray for His complete healing for you as well, Danele. I know you’ve gone through some very challenging health situations.

Danele: Thank you! I really appreciate your prayers! I think that’s one of the nicest things about you, Judith, you really care about the people you encounter. Thank you for partnering with me in prayer!

Judith: You’re welcome.

Danele: It amazes me how God teaches me new things every day. Has God ever taught you an eye-opening lesson?

Judith: Yes, He taught me to trust Him always because ultimately He works all for good as we trust in Him.

Danele: That’s so true! That’s the promise of Romans 8:28. Hearing about your health struggles and how God has restored you, has just given me more proof that Romans 8:28 holds true. On another subject, why do you think it’s important to sing praises to God?

Judith: I truly believe God inhabits the praises of His people. I laughingly tell my four children and seven grandchildren God always knows how grateful I am because it’s my delight to thank Him daily for everything – the streaks of sun entering a window, the intricate beauty of a weed. I’m all about gratitude!

Danele: Singing praises is incredibly important and so are personal devotions. Can you describe your devotional routine?

Judith: First thing out of bed, I drop to my knees and pray that everything I think, do, and say this day will be pleasing to God. I have low blood sugar so I need breakfast quickly – I often spend time with the Lord and my husband if he’s home. Scripture comes next – usually three chapters. I also journal, and lastly, I pray for my family members and friends’ needs.

Danele: I usually have my devotions in the morning too. There’s something satisfying about starting the day in the Lord’s presence. Right now, I’m studying Psalms. Do you have a favorite Psalm?

Judith: May I pick two favorites? Psalm 91 and Psalm 34. My husband and I prayed Psalm 91 continually as God healed our eighteen-year-old son from terminal cancer and from being hit by a drunk driver within the same year. And I autograph every women’s book with Psalm 34 because it’s so full of hope and promise.

Danele: I love both of those Psalms too! They’re fantastic! Speaking of fantastic things, what do you think heaven is going to be like?

Judith: Amazing! I already have a twenty-four year old grandson in heaven who has added his musical and artistic gifts to the scene. I’m ready when God says, “Go.”

Danele: Oh, Judith, I’m so sorry for your loss! But what you said is so true; you’ll have a lovely reunion waiting for you. I have many loved ones in heaven too, and I can’t wait to see them again! Sometimes, life can be incredibly painful. There are so many people hurting in this world. What would you like to say to them?

Judith: God has intentionally created your life for your wholeness and purpose as you use your God-given gifts in some way to bless yourself and others. He loves you personally and never takes His eye off you. Keep your eyes on Him and His word and you’ll be amazed at how you’ll begin to enjoy your life.

Danele: That’s beautiful! Thank you for sharing your heart, Judith! Is there anything else that you would like to say to us?

Judith: As a professional marriage and family counselor and now full-time author/speaker, I’m dedicated to helping people live their best lives. That’s why I always weave Scriptural principles about family and relationships in my fiction and non-fiction – whatever the genre – in my children’s fantasy mystery novels, how-to books for men and women’s relationships, parenting, devotionals like Breathless, Minute Meditations, and God Thoughts and recently my adult mystery thrillers: Directive 99, Bullet in the Night, and Never Tomorrow. God’s Word and ways are powerful and never return void.  In fact, I recently got an email from a man in his seventies who read my latest mystery about a female serial killer (although it’s not graphic in any way or offensive to readers) and he said he had a spiritual reawakening after reading it. Only God!

Danele: That’s wonderful! Writing really does give a person a unique place of ministry. Besides ministering, what do you like the most about writing?

Judith: As a writer, I have the best job in the world. I meet amazing people every day and some are even real. I’m never bored.

Danele: Oh, Judith! You just made me smile! Before I let you go, please tell us about your latest book release, Never Tomorrow.

Judith: I’m excited about the response to Never Tomorrow, my recently released mystery. It is being endorsed by best-selling New York Times author Pat Gussin who said: “Layer upon layer of intrigue—laced with murder–propels this novel to the pinnacle of suspense. An ingenious plot, dynamic and complex characters, and an insight into the troubled avenues of human behavior rarely exposed make NEVER TOMORROW a stand-out for readers of mysteries, thrillers, and suspense.”

Danele: That’s marvelous! I’ve heard that Never Tomorrow has been getting rave reviews.

Judith: In the first two months, it received twenty reviews of four and five stars.

Danele: That’s fabulous! Can you tell us more about it?

Judith: The theme of Never Tomorrow is the aftermath of divorce on the participants and family members. Who hasn’t been impacted by divorce in some form? Also, what woman has never experienced depression? I wanted to write a mystery and a love story that would give readers deep insights, so I wove in ideas that help men and women forgive, heal, and move on to enjoy a happy marriage or contented singlehood. It’s important to me that my mystery be as compelling and flawless as I can make it. I wanted an original plot, and I believe God gave it to me. Readers say they don’t figure out the killer until the last page, which thrills me.

Danele: Can you share the back cover copy for Never Tomorrow and a purchasing link?

Judith: Journalist Whitney Barnes investigates the mysterious death of her mother and three women from Cortland City seeking the thread that links them to an enigmatic killer. Why are women being murdered with no apparent motives for their death? Police are mystified at the lack of clues and a growing sense of fear surrounds the community. Who will be the next victim? Determined to find the killer, Whitney discovers these women were dealing with wounds from their troubling pasts, but what was their connection? She teams up with Dr. Sarah Stevens, an expert on women’s issues, to ferret out information while TV talk show host, Rich, and real estate broker, Jordan, vie for Whitney’s affection. Whitney discovers new strength within her but is it powerful enough to cope with this dark force of evil? Suspense escalates, as Whitney becomes the killer’s next target.

Never Tomorrow, and all my books, are available on Amazon and at Barnes & Noble. https://www.amazon.com/dp/B01E7LL3IU/ref=dp-kindle-redirect?_encoding=UTF8&btkr=1

Danele: Thank you for talking with us, Judith! I’ve really enjoyed it!

Judith: The pleasure was mine – it’s been a delightful experience. Thank you for inviting me, Danele.

 

Friends, Judith Rolfs is a TERRIFIC person! I’ve really enjoyed getting to know her! If you would like to learn more about Judith or her books, please follow the links below. I hope you have a wonderful day!

www.judithrolfs.com

www.judithrolfs.blogspot.com

www.facebook.com/judithrolfs

 

A Cow Named Horse

calves 9My parents owned a dairy while I was growing up, and I did lots of jobs on the farm. I drove tractors and trucks, milked cows, and irrigated crops. My favorite job of all was feeding the baby calves. To me, that job was a slice of heaven. The sunrises and sunsets were spectacular, and the little calves were so cute. They became my pets, and even after they grew into cows and bulls, they would come when I called.

During the time when I was chief calf feeder, a cow had a difficult pregnancy, and my parents and I had to deliver the calf. It was a tremendous struggle, and when the calf finally made her appearance, we could immediately see what the problem had been—the calf was humungous! Looking at the baby, my mother exclaimed, “My word! That calf is a horse!”

The name stuck.

calves 7Horse was one of my favorite calves. When I went to feed her, she would caper around me, kicking up her heels with delight. When she was through eating, she would always lean against me and stretch her neck, begging to be scratched behind the ears. I really loved that silly calf. I thought she was terrific.

As time passed, Horse and her contemporaries grew from little babies into animals ready to be put on pasture. Although I knew it had to be done, I dreaded what was going to happen next. Before my calves could be released into the field, they had to be branded and dehorned.

Branding and dehorning is one of the nastiest jobs on a farm—but it has to be done. A cow with horns is a danger to other animals and to humans. And without a brand, an animal is a target for thieves.

brandingThe day Horse was branded, my job was to herd my calves one by one into the branding chute. I didn’t like it, but I knew that what was going to happen was essential for the safety of my animals. I knew that the momentary pain would help protect my pets for the rest of their lives; nevertheless, I felt like Judas when I put them into the chute. I deliberately kept back Horse. I just couldn’t make myself put her into the chute. As each calf was branded, Horse would nuzzle against my side, and I would scratch her behind the ears and speak softly to her. I told her that it would be over soon and that it was for her good. Eventually, Horse was the last calf in the pen. I reluctantly put her into the chute. Five minutes later, she was back with the other calves. And few days later, all of my pets were out on pasture. The pasture was a lovely place. It had lush, green grass, beautiful trees, and a peaceful lake. Because of their brands, my pets were able to wander freely and safely.

calves 6All of my calves recovered quickly, and they came as usual when I called—at least, all of them did but Horse. Whenever I came near, Horse would run away. I thought she would eventually get over it, but she never did. Even when she grew up and enjoyed her cushy life as a milk cow, she never forgave me. If she caught sight of me, she would run the other direction just as fast as she could.

I understand why Horse grew to hate me. In her eyes, I represented safety, and I betrayed her. She didn’t realize that the lavish lifestyle she was enjoying was because of the branding. And she didn’t know that part of the safety that surrounded her was because of the dehorning. All she knew was that she had trusted me to keep her safe, and instead of preventing her pain—I’d allowed it.

14When I almost died from Carbon Monoxide poisoning, and later, when I came down with Multiple Chemical Sensitivity and was put into seven years of quarantine, I felt totally betrayed by God. I had trusted God. I had loved God. I had believed that God was on my side. Then my world fell to pieces. I knew that God was powerful enough that He could’ve kept me from harm, but He didn’t. I struggled with that knowledge, and for a while, I turned my back on the Lord. I didn’t want anything to do with a God who seemed cruel and two-faced.

One day in quarantine, I was stewing about my condition and the fickleness of God. I ranted, and raved, and made a big fuss. When I finally grew quiet and listened, I heard God speak. He simply said, “You’re acting like Horse.”

calves 1Blinking a little, I thought about my old pet. Even though I could’ve taken Horse away from the branding pen and refused to let her go through the pain, I allowed it because I knew it would lead to a better life for her. I knew that in the end, it would keep her from greater harm. I knew that it would allow her to fulfill her destiny. As I contemplated Horse’s reaction to me, and my reaction to God, I could see the similarities. I had to admit that God knew the future. God knew my destiny. God loved me. He wouldn’t allow anything bad to come into my life unless it was going to lead to something good in the end.

calves 3If Horse hadn’t gone through her five minutes of pain, she could’ve been injured, stolen, or even slaughtered on the black market. If I hadn’t gone through my years of illness and quarantine, I never would have written my books or become a blogger. I’ve learned that many times in life, I have to calm down, step back, and try to see the big picture. God isn’t weak, or mean, or careless, or brutal, or uncaring. I’ve learned that when something bad happens, it always—eventually—leads to something good. That’s the promise of Romans 8:28.

There are many things that I don’t understand about God, and faith, and life. There are some puzzles that I will probably never solve. But one thing that a cow named Horse taught me is that I don’t always know the big picture. What seems like betrayal can actually be protection. What seems like indifference can actually be love. And what seems like the worst thing in the world can actually be the key to unlocking destiny.

 

pink sunrise2“‘For My thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways My ways,’ declares the Lord. ‘As the heavens are higher than the earth, so are My ways higher than your ways and My thoughts [higher] than your thoughts.’” –Isaiah 55:8-9

 

Slip ’N Slide and Matters of Faith

slide 2When I was a little girl, summer meant one thing—Slip ’N Slide! The Slip ’N Slide was one of the most magical inventions ever created by mankind. It was a long strip of yellow plastic that you unrolled over your grass. When you connected the garden hose to one end, little fountains would arch across the plastic making a water wonderland. The idea of the Slip ’N Slide was simple. You ran across the grass, launched yourself into the air, hit the plastic, and your momentum would send you sliding through water all the way down the entire length of the slide. Oh, the bliss!!!!

Unfortunately, I had a problem—well, two problems, actually. I was uncoordinated, and I was a chicken.

slide 3My siblings were pros when it came to Slip ’N Slide. They would run like the wind, throw themselves into the air, hit the plastic perfectly, and sail beautifully down the slide. I, on the other hand, always looked like a galumphing camel whenever I tried to run. And worse than that, whenever I would reach the plastic I would hesitate, panic about tossing myself into the air, stumble, trip over my toes, fall on my face, and roll inelegantly off the plastic and onto the grass.

slide 1Our family owned a Slip ’N Slide for years, and I don’t think I made it perfectly down that slippery, yellow slide even once. I did, however, end up with an extreme aversion to the color yellow. To me, there was something totally insane about barreling at a breakneck speed and flinging myself into the air. Some people can do it, but I just didn’t seem to have the nerve or the knack.

As the years have passed, I’ve begun to realize that there is a correlation between Slip ’N Slides and faith. You see, according to Hebrews 11:1, faith is the substance of things hoped for and the evidence of things not seen. In other words, when you have faith, you believe that everything is going to be all right even though you can’t see any evidence proving it.

slide 5When I was a child, even though I knew that the Slip ’N Slide wasn’t going to hurt me—I was terrified of embracing the process of flinging myself into the unknown. Today, I find that I sometimes have the same struggle when it comes to faith. My heart believes that God has everything under control, but when I try to relinquish my worries to Him, I tend to balk, hesitate, and then trip over my own toes. In essence, I get in my own way instead of experiencing the freedom of sailing in God’s arms. To me, that’s a problem. A big one.

slide 4So what do I do about it? The way I see it, the only thing I can do is come to God in prayer admitting my tendency to worry. I can ask Him to help me with my fear and to increase my faith. After all, Jesus didn’t rebuke the man who came to Him in Mark 9:24. When the man asked Jesus to help his unbelief, Jesus did just that. God is a compassionate Father. He is loving and kind. He knows everything there is to know about us. He sees our struggles and meets us right where we are at. I think there’s something infinitely comforting about that fact. I may never be able to fling myself onto a Slip ’N Slide, but I do think that I can figuratively fling myself into God’s arms and let Him take me sailing.

hug“Jehovah is kind and merciful, slow to get angry, full of love. He is good to everyone, and His compassion is intertwined with everything He does.” –Psalm 145:8-9

Things Aren’t Always What They Seem

Monument 1Several years ago, I went on a missions trip to Uruguay. The people were incredibly nice, and I loved my time there! On one of our final days, our team visited Montevideo just for fun. The city was incredible. I had a great time shopping and looking at all of the buildings and statues. At one point, we visited the tomb of a very important person in Uruguayan history. Descending a flight of stairs, we entered a quiet, dimly lit room. In the center of the vault was a huge, golden urn flanked by two wax statues of soldiers.

I was fascinated by those wax figures. They were life-sized, and the artistic detail was absolutely amazing. I studied them for quite a while and finally took a picture. I couldn’t get over the stunning artistry. The room wasn’t well lit, and I was having a difficult time seeing them as clearly as I desired. As the room cleared of tourists, and the crowd around the urn melted away, I saw my chance. I HAD to get a better look at those statues! I crept close to one and studied the wax figure’s uniform. Then I crept even closer and stood nose-to-nose with statue and studied its face. The detail was amazing. Whoever created the statue was a genius! I crept even closer and studied the statue’s eyes.

Suddenly, the statue blinked.

!!!!!!!!!!!!

Jumping about five feet backward in a single leap, I clutched my thumping heart and looked at the statue with a dropped jaw.

THE WAX FIGURE WAS ALIVE!!!!!!!!

Monument 2My whole world tilted and spun. I had been standing nose-to-nose with a real-life Uruguayan soldier dressed in a fancy, full uniform. The man blinked again, but other than that, his expression didn’t change. He didn’t flex a muscle. I swear that he didn’t even breathe. Feeling like a total idiot, I bobbed a little curtsey and got out of there just as fast as I could. I wasn’t sure if the soldier thought I was rude, half-witted, or a security threat—but I didn’t want to find out.

Down through the years, I’ve thought quite a bit about that living “wax statue.” I was convinced that I knew exactly what I was seeing, but I was deceived. Now days, when I’m CERTAIN that I know EXACTLY what’s going on, I always take a step backward and try to see things from several different angles. I’ve learned that things aren’t always how they appear. I’ve also learned that being dead sure about a situation—or about a person’s intentions—is the quickest way for me to make a total idiot of myself. After all, I’ve stood nose-to-nose with a wax statue and seen it blink!


shocked face“So be careful not to jump to conclusions before the Lord returns as to whether someone is a good servant or not. When the Lord comes, He will turn on the light so everyone can see exactly what each one of us is really like, deep down in our hearts… At that time God will give to each one whatever praise is coming to him.”
 — 1 Corinthians 4:5

Rats!!! My Bulb Burned Out Again!!!

lightbulb 2I have a horrible light fixture in my bedroom. The icky thing drives me bananas! Every two weeks, the fixture burns out its light bulb. I’m tall enough to reach the fixture if I stand on my tiptoes and stretch, but I’m short enough that the process isn’t exactly easy. I know I could get a step stool, but honestly, I’m too lazy. So I stretch on my tippy toes, groan, moan, and hope the bulb stays lit for longer than two days. Burned out light bulbs are among my pet peeves.

supermarketAnother pet peeve is long lines. During quarantine, I couldn’t go into stores, and I missed shopping SO MUCH. I used to dream about strolling through the produce section of my local supermarket. It’s amazing how swiftly life changes. I can go into stores now, and although the novelty hasn’t disappeared, I have to admit that I have fallen back into my old pattern of hating checkout lines.

waiting in lineI hate waiting. It isn’t any fun, and I tend to get bored quickly. After about two minutes, I start standing on one foot–then I shift my weight to the other foot. After three minutes, I try entertaining myself by scanning the covers of magazines. After five minutes, I begin mentally playing The Price is Right and trying to come up with the grand total of the items in my cart to the nearest retail dollar. After seven minutes, I try stifling my yawns and smiling—but if the wait is longer than eight minutes, my smile starts to waver. I begin to frown. After nine minutes, I can feel my face hardening. I start to feel my stomach churning. At nine minutes and thirty seconds, I’m more than a little impatient—I’m angry. As the ten-minute mark is reached, I begin mentally composing a letter to the manager of the store. I’m a writer, and my mental compositions tend to be full of zingers. Although my “mental letters” never get sent, they’re acidic enough to blister paint. If the wait stretches longer than twelve minutes, I have a hard time being civil.

angryThe other day, I was in a checkout line that was incredibly long. The twelve-minute mark had come and gone. By the time my turn came, I was exceedingly grouchy. I didn’t smile at the checker. I didn’t respond to her greeting. Truth be told, my body language was extremely snotty. I was putting off a VERY nasty vibe. Although it wasn’t the checker’s fault that my shoes were giving me a blister or that the store was hot–at that moment, I felt like it was. I wasn’t “verbally rude,” but I wasn’t “non-verbally nice” either.

As the checker finished bagging my items, the light bulb above us began to sputter and blink. As it did, I had a mental picture of the light bulb in my room. My frown deepened, and I began mentally composing a zinging letter to all of the light bulb manufacturers in the entire world.

light bulbsAs the bulb burned out and the light around the checkout stand dimmed, I began to feel the convicting presence of the Lord. His Spirit was loving, but it was grieved. As I handed the checker my money, I felt the Lord telling me that I was acting like a sputtering light bulb. I felt the Lord telling me that the checker was someone I would never see again. I had only this moment to touch her life, and I was blowing it. As a Christian, I was called to be a light to the world, but I wasn’t giving off much wattage. I was being as unreliable to the Lord as my bedroom light bulb was being to me.

Blinking a little—and feeling very ashamed—I consigned my mental “zinging” letters to my mental garbage bin. I changed my frown into a smile. I thanked the checker politely for helping me. She smiled back and thanked me for being patient. We both knew that she was just being nice. I hadn’t been patient. I had been a jerk. Her courteous words made me feel lower than a snake’s belly—they also made me feel extremely grateful that I wasn’t wearing my cross necklace or my “Jesus Loves You” t-shirt. At that moment, I was very glad that she had no idea that I was a Christian—how shameful is that???

lightbulb 1Gathering my sacks, I left the store—slunk away is a more adequate description of my exit. Although I wasn’t able to be a great witness for the Lord that day, I did learn something important. I’m God’s light bulb whether I like it or not. I’m either going to shine brightly for the Lord, or I’m going to sputter, burn out, and leave the world in darkness. I’m only going to have so many years on this planet. I’ll encounter some people only once in my lifetime. How I act around people is important. Long lines, tight shoes, and hot stores aren’t good excuses for being snotty to strangers… God, please help me to do better next time!!!

 

hand lightbulb“Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father which is in heaven.” –Matthew 5:16