“Blessed are the peacemakers: for they shall be called the children of God.” Matthew 5:9
Last Wednesday, the 11th was Veterans Day. We had wonderful remembrances in our Spiritual Family Prayer Group and in our communities. The whole point of having a military is that freedom and peace is not free. As the saying goes, “Some gave much, but many gave all.” No one gave more that our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ. And we follow him, even over 2000 years later, to this day. So, as we move forward in our lives and as we promote peace and well-being for all, we must remember first and foremost that in order for it to begin with us we must develop ourselves, our spirituality, our true love and path to truth.
“Above all else, guard thy heart for it is the wellspring of life.” Proverbs 4:23
Steven Covey, in his best-selling book, Seven Habits of Highly Effective People, said “Begin with the end in mind and keep your eye fixed there. Evaluate your life’s path.”
As we go through life, we want to be a place where we can be happy. But sometimes we trip over our own feet and often we trip over another person standing by. That may change our feelings of happiness into feelings of anger, even what we tripped over was just a rock in in the road. Then we might hold a grudge and anger levels begin to swell inside us. Secondly instead of looking at the happiness we have been seeking and enjoying we turn to unhappiness and anger. And the more we think about it, the more it grows until finally it’s practically taking over our life, our thoughts, our actions. And we did it to ourselves; we made the decision, within our mind, to feel these emotions.
There is a comic strip titled, Marvin. Marvin is sucking on his bottle in this comic strip. He says as he sucks on his bottle, “My short term goal in life is to be fed again in four hours. My long term goal is to be fed again in eight hours.” Too many of us have only short term goals in mind. We go for the instant gratification of thinking about what we should get in life. We hold too much in our minds the feeling of how we are going to have satisfaction.
Sometimes to get that satisfaction we want negative things to happen to those with whom we have disagreements. We think those people deserve negativity in their life because they exhibited it to us at some point in time. And we may think about all those negative things that could happen because of something that happened in the past. It may have been something that only lasted for a moment; but we build on it and keep it going for years and years replaying it over and over and our minds – making us miserable. Sometimes we want the satisfaction of hoping bad things will happen to people that we think deserve those bad things.
We just had an evening of debates. Well, a couple decades ago a Presidential debate with more than one hundred million people watching was held up for 27 minutes. For 27 minutes the President of the United States and a challenger for that office stood silent before an immense television audience. The reason for the silence was an equipment malfunction caused by a capacitor. The part of the equipment that failed cost only one dollar.
The space probe, Mariner I, was bound for Venus. It headed off course and it had to be destroyed. It cost our government eighteen and one half million dollars. The rocket had responded incorrectly because an anonymous flight computer programmer had left out a comma in the Mariner’s computer program.
I mention these stories above because as we are seeking happiness in our own life we need to look at the little things. Do you find “little things” around you disturbing your focus, upsetting your thoughts. Well these little things actually are thoughts inside the start gnawing away at our contentment. These are just little things. Life is not a series of big things, but little things – that make the difference. Begin with the end in mind and keep your eye fixed on love, forgiveness, and peace because you are a spiritual being.
We are children of God, and we are incredible. What a shame it is for me and for you if we do not constantly use this incredible life that was granted to us by God to love. We were all created in the image and likeness of God, and that is why we can never be totally at peace with ourselves and feel good within ourselves when we harbor grudges, anger, or withhold forgiveness.
“When we express fully the Divine qualities of love and forgiveness we cast off depressing thoughts and feelings. As we do we feel an inrush of peace, light, joy, and release. We let God’s love rule over our thoughts and feelings. There is no room in our hearts for anything but the all-embracing, forgiving love of God. We are spiritual beings so our nature is to be loving. Our nature is to be kind. Our nature is to be forgiving and compassionate in all of our relations with other people. Our souls will grow in grace and harmony as we follow the way of love and forgiveness.”
So starting today let’s focus and ask God for the power to move forward in love and like a tiny seed that is growing strong and tall –a seed of love and happiness that will stay with us, that will live inside of each one of us.
“For three days a fierce winter storm had traveled 1500 miles across the north Pacific from Alaska, packing gale force winds and torrential rains. In the Sierra Nevada’s to the east, the snow was piling up and would offer great skiing once the storm had past.
In the foothills of the Sierras, in the town of Grass Valley, California, the streets were flooded and in some parts of town the power was off because trees had blown down. At the small church the heavy rain and high winds beat against the windows with a violence that Father O’Malley had never before heard. In his tiny bedroom, O’Malley was writing the Sunday sermon by candlelight. Out of the darkness a phone rang in his office. It shattered his concentration. He picked up the candle and with his hand cupped over the flame of the candle he ambled down the hallway in the sphere of the dim flickering light. When he picked up the phone, a voice quickly asked, “Is this Father O’Malley?”
“Yes,” he said.
“I am calling from the hospital in Auburn,” said a concerned female voice. “We have a terminally ill patient who is asking us to get someone to give him last rites. Can you come quickly?”
“I’ll try my best to make it,” O’Malley answered. “But the river is over its banks and the trees are blown down all over the town. It is the worst storm that I have seen in all the years I have been here. Look for me though within two hours. I will try my best to make it.”
The trip was only 30 miles, but it would be hard going. The headlights on Father O’Malley’s 20 year old car barely penetrated the slashing rain. Where the winding road crossed and re-crossed the river in a series of small bridges, trees had blown down across the river banks. But for some reason there was always just enough room for Father O’Malley’s car to make his way around them. His progress was slow and cautious, but he continued on toward the hospital. Not a single vehicle passed him during his long tense journey. It was way past midnight and anyone else out on a night like this would also have to be on an emergency.
Finally, in the near distance, the lights of the small hospital served as a beacon to guide O’Malley the last 500 yards. He hoped he had arrived in time. He parked behind three other cars in the parking lot to avoid as much wind as possible. He slipped into the right hand seat and awkwardly wrestled his way into his raincoat before stepping out into the wind-whipped storm with his tattered Bible tucked deep in his overcoat pocket, O’Malley forced the car door open, stepped out and leaned into the wind. Its power almost bowled him over and he was nearly blown away from the hospital entrance.
Once inside, the wind slammed the hospital door shut behind him He was shaking the water from his raincoat and he heard the steps of the night nurse headed his way. She said, “Oh, I am so glad you are here. I am so glad you could make it through this storm. Please hurry because the man that I called you about is slipping fast, but he is still coherent. He has been an alcoholic for years, Father, and his liver has finally given out. He has been here a couple of weeks this time and he hasn’t had one single visitor. He lives up in the woods. No one around here knows much about him. He always pays his bill with cash when he comes here. He doesn’t seem to want to talk much. We have been treating him off and on now for the past couple of years, but this time it’s as though he has reached some personal decision and has given up the fight.”
“What is your patient’s name?” O’Malley asked.
“The hospital staff has been calling him Tom. That is all we know, Tom is his name.”
In the soft night light of the room, Tom’s thin, pale countenance looked ghost-like behind a scraggly beard. It was as though he had stepped over the threshold and his life was already gone.
“Hello Tom, this is Father O’Malley. I was passing by and I thought we could talk a bit before you go to sleep for the night.”
“Don’t give me any of that garbage,” Tom replied. “You didn’t just stop by at 3:30 in the morning. I asked that dumb night nurse to call you to give me last rites. I know my deal is done and it is my turn to go. Now, get on with it. Get on with it before I die.”
“Patience, patience,” Father O’Malley said. He began to say the prayers of last rites.
After the Amen, Tom perked up a bit and he seemed to want to talk. “Would you like to make your confession?” O’Malley asked him.
“Absolutely not,” Tom said strongly. “I would just like to talk to you a bit before I go on to the next dimension.”
So Tom and Father O’Malley talked about the Korean War, the fierceness of the winter storm, the knee high grass and summer blossoms that would soon follow. Occasionally, during the hour or so before daylight, Father O’Malley would ask again, “Are you absolutely sure that you don’t want to confess anything?”
After a couple of hours and after about the fourth or fifth time that Father O’Malley asked the same question, Tom replied, “Father you don’t know what you ask. When I was young I did something that was so bad that I never told anybody about it. It has ruined my life. It was so bad that I haven’t spent a single day since without thinking about it and reliving that horror.”
“Don’t you think that it would be good for you to tell me about it?” Father O’Malley said.
Tom said, “Even now, I still can’t talk about it-even to you.”
As the first gray light of dawn crept into the room and began to form shadows, Tom sadly said, “Okay, it is too late for anyone to do anything to me anyway isn’t it? I might as well tell you.”
“I worked as a switchman on the railroad all of my life until I retired a few years ago and moved up here to the woods. Thirty-two years, two months, and eleven days and some hours ago, I was working in Bakersfield on a night kind of like tonight.” Tom’s face became intense as the words began to tumble out. “It happened during a bad winter storm with a lot of rain and 50 mile-per-hour winds and almost no visibility. It was two nights before Christmas, and to push away the gloom the whole yard crew drank all through the swing shift. I was drunker than most of them, so I volunteered to go out in the wind and the rain and push the switch for the northbound 8:30 freight.”
Tom’s voice dropped almost to a whisper as he went on, “I guess I was more drunk than I thought I was because I pushed that switch in the wrong direction. At 45 miles-per-hour that freight train slammed into a passenger car at the next crossing and killed a young man, his wife, and their two daughters. I have had to live with my being the cause of their deaths every day since then.”
There was a long moment of silence as Tom’s confession of this tragedy hung in the air.
After what seemed like an eternity, Father O’Malley gently put his hand on Tom’s shoulder and said very quietly, “If I can forgive you, God can forgive you. Because in that car were my mother, my father, and my two older sisters.”
We believe that in life a lot of things come by chance.
But what is “by chance?”
Warren Miller tells that true story of what really happened to Father O’Malley that night. He went to the hospital at 3:30 and by chance he happened to meet the man who had killed his mother, father, and two sisters – and he forgave. How much better it made the man feel who was lying there preparing to die. Father O’Malley had already forgiven and moved on, but Tom could not forgive himself.
Forgiveness is not for the other. It is for you. When we do not forgive, we have a hole in OUR heart. We have something that is destroying our mind and our body.
Each and every one of you, as you sit here reading or listening to this, you are the greatest miracle that God has made. From the top of your head to the very bottom of your feet you are made of atoms. You are God’s creation. Now it is up to you, to each of us, to use these atoms, our life, in the best and greatest way possible and that way is the way that is created in the image and the likeness of God. And because we are living children of God we are made more humble, more open, more loving because we open ourselves up to the loving all people and not allowing ourselves to trip up on the little things that come in our life.
Have you ever heard of the word “catmatic.” Well it’s meaning is the opposite of dogmatic. Most dogmatic personalities have opinions and beliefs about everything, and they always are expressing those strong opinions. But catmatic people are those who are pussyfooting around. They never make a firm decision; they never get into action.
To follow God we have to be a “Love-matic” person, one who loves, makes strong decisions out of that love, and takes action.
A farmer in need of a farm hand posted a notice in a village. Three promising young people responded and the farmer met with each in turn. He asked the first young man about his background and concluded with a particular question. “Tell me,” said the farmer, “How long can you work with a stone in your shoe?”
“Half a day,” responded the youth. The farmer thanked him and sent him on his way.
The farmer spoke with the second young man and then concluded with “How long can you work with a stone in your shoe?”
“All day long,” boasted the boy. “All day long.” The farmer sent the second young man on his way.
The farmer met with the third youth. “How long can you work with a stone in your shoe?”
“Not a minute!” exclaimed the youth. “When I get a stone in my shoe, I take it out right away.” The farmer hired the third boy.
As you walk along life’s path, is there a stone in your shoe? Is something keeping you from progressing forward? If so get rid of it – now. Is there something that is tearing you down? If you evaluate that situation you realize that what is tearing you down is all about you and your thoughts and your reactions and your opinions. If You may be in a work situation that you know is destroying you and then you realize that you are angry inside of yourself because of what they have done to you. Let it go.
Or you may be in a situation with your family or your group of friends, where you know you can’t continue without a tremendous amount of pain. If you are going through something like this, don’t allow yourself to be miserable. Release it; turn it over; let it go.
We have hundreds and hundreds of thoughts in our mind every day, hopefully, they are good thoughts, maybe great thoughts. But then there’s one little thought that bubbles up every once in a while which is a focus on a person we really dislike; but another may bubble up that shows the suspicion of someone, or something; maybe a bubble pops up that shows a lack of trust with someone. Let it go; let all those bubbles go let them float upward, up, up, and away.
Jesus says that you cannot love and trust God if you hate and distrust humans. Matthew 5:43-44(NIV) 43 “You have heard that it was said, ‘Love your neighbor[a] and hate your enemy.’ 44 But I tell you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, 45 that you may be children of your Father in heaven.”
As we close in a few minutes, focus on removing those old thoughts of bad things about other people. We are all here to grow in our spirituality. We are on a very serious mission – to become the very best person we can be. We are here to follow Jesus Christ and his mission 100%, by becoming exactly who he said we could become. This is our mission, this is our commitment, the commitment and focus to let go of all negativity – let go and let God.
Let us pray.” Here I am again, God. Here I am bringing my human mind to worship. Here I am to have a bathing, a cleansing, a re-freshening of thought. Here I am to concentrate, not on debts, but to concentrate on love. May the spirit of honesty, promptness, efficiency and order be expressed in me, in all that I do, and in all that I think.” Amen
God Bless You!