Sunday, July 19, 2015

Walking in another's Moccasins

All my life I've heard the old saying about not judging another person until you've walked a mile in their shoes.  It's taken me many decades to realize the truth of that wise saying.  I also recently learned the true origin of that old saying.  It comes from a poem by Mary T. Lathrap, "Judge Softly," written way back in 1895.  Here's one of the verses of that poem:

Just walk a mile in his moccasins
Before you abuse, criticize and accuse.
If just for one hour, you could find a way
To see through his eyes, instead of your own muse.
 It's so true!  It goes along with the Bible verse, "Judge not that you be not judged," Matthew 7:1, but also has a connotation beyond that of simply judging a person's behavior.  I've been struck by not realizing how I'm going to feel about a situation until it happens, and when it does, I'm sometimes stunned by my reaction to the happening.  I may have imagined a totally different reaction before the situation actually happened.  Have you ever done that?

The truth of that kind of goes along with not judging the behavior of another person.  For instance, a friend might lose a spouse and a year later the person is still grieving.  We might think it's time to get a grip and move on, but until we've been through that same loss, we can't know what it's going to feel like.  We might imagine what it feels like, but could be totally stunned at the feelings we would experience should such a loss befall us.

So -- just as Mary Lathrap entitled her poem, we should "judge softly" when we observe other people and their reactions to events.  Perhaps we should be more liberal with our patience and sympathy -- and attempt more understanding when people don't respond to a situation as we expect they should.  You never know, the next time, the moccasin (or shoe) might be on the other foot.

-Photo:  I took the picture of these beautiful, beaded Indian moccasins in a museum in Medora, ND.


Thursday, July 2, 2015

Butterflies and Purpose


This morning, I zoomed in on this elegant butterfly delicately perched on a blossom of a butterfly bush in my garden.  I was sitting there knowing I needed and wanted to spend time with God, while also feeling the "call" of the many tasks I felt I needed to accomplish today.  The sight of a butterfly always challenges and reminds me that taking time out of a busy schedule to spend with God is the most important part of our day.

It's the short poem by Rabindranath Tagore that always reminds me of that truth:  "The butterfly counts not months but moments and has time enough."  There's a profound message in that short statement as well as in that short life.  The average lifespan for an adult butterfly is 20 to 40 days -- that's slightly over 4,000 minutes to perform its entire life purpose -- yet, it is "time enough."

God has a life purpose for each of us and even before we were born, He allotted the time for each of us to accomplish that purpose.  Psalm 139:16 tells us, "All the days ordained for me were written in Your book before one of them came to be."  So -- God's Word is basically telling us that we have time enough to complete the purpose He created you and me for.  I guess the question we need to ask ourselves is - what is the purpose for which God created me?  Do most of my days head down the path of accomplishing God's purposes, or do I tend to digress and spend much or most of my time working on my own purposes?

So - how do we find our purpose?  The Westminster catechism tells us that the chief purpose of man is to glorify God - and that is what our entire world and its surrounding universe was created to do -- to glorify God.  With that in mind, how should we go about our days?  Moses asked God to "Teach us to number our days aright, that we may gain a heart of wisdom," Psalm 90:12.  Moses also knew how much He needed God's leading and presence and wisdom to help him handle the huge responsibilities he had leading the children of Israel.  He said to God, "If your Presence does not go with us, do not bring us up from here," Exodus 33:15.  I love that!

In all the many activities and tasks that we do each day, we need to always seek to glorify God and to seek Him - to deepen our personal relationship with Him.  That is the key - an intimate, personal relationship with the God of the universe, our holy Father -- that is our primary purpose, because the closer we draw to Him and learn of Him, the more we will end up delighting in Him and glorifying Him and fulfilling the purpose for which we were created.  We must "Be still and know that I am God" Psalm 46:10, and "Seek ye first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things shall be added unto you" Matthew 6:33 KJV.

We might say that Jesus lived a short life since his journey on earth lasted only 33 years, but according to God's purpose - He lived the perfect amount of time.  He finished the work He was brought on earth to do and He said, "I have brought You glory on earth by completing the work You gave me to do" John 17:4.  Ah, to be able to say those words when our time is up on this earth.

Like the butterfly, we are beautiful creations with a purpose.  Let's live that purpose for Him and we too will have time enough.  "...He who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus" Philippians 1:6.