Article by: Curtis Beaird
Curtis and Norma Beaird
The first thing I heard this morning was Blue Jays announcing their arrival at the feeder. They are big birds. They are loud birds. They are birds that love peanuts. As soon as we feed them, they fall silent.
I guess it is difficult to screech, screech, screech, with a beak full of your favorite food. Those big blues never fail to bring a smile.
Manna from heaven is fresh every morning.
Now, it is assault time. Turn on the TV. The manna offered by the antics of the Jays is replaced by another loud pair. This time, a couple of talking heads doing voiceovers while outdated file footage documents what went wrong while I slept. If something didn’t slip, break or get blown up in the world, someone somewhere did something wrong. That too is eagerly reported.
There is nothing quite like the quick trip from heavenly manna to an emotional mauling served up by news outlets specializing in commercialized chaos. If sex sells, these folks have discovered that human tragedy is equally as lucrative. What would the evening news be without at least one tight shot of yellow crime tape? Cashing sorrow has become a business strategy.
Other than flipping the off button and risking the guilt of not caring, what can we do to manage the constant barrage of “it went wrong,” “it’s going wrong”, or “they did it wrong”? This message keeps us off balance and weighed down with a low-grade fatigue and a not-so-low-grade anger.
You are right; I would not have raised the question if I didn’t have a proposed answer ready. Well actually, I don’t, but the Apostle Paul does. In the face of the wrangling chaos at Ephesus, Paul allows Timothy in on the secret of how to handle it with what I call the Big Six.
I Timothy 6:11
“…follow after righteousness, godliness, faith, love, patience, meekness.”
Whew. O.K. Let’s go ahead and say it. Of those Big Six that Paul listed, to think of godliness as a goal, much less a strategy for living, seems borderline impossible, if not absurd. My guess, when we hear the word godliness, we imagine a life pure as the driven snow, one zipped up so tight that we can’t breath…....or both. We give up even before we start. While that conclusion is natural, it will leave us vulnerable to the insanity that surrounds us. So, stay with me through a few more words.
For Paul, godliness is a way to a productive future. It is a conscious choice we can make to avoid the downward pull we feel each time that we are assaulted by a media bent on exhausting us with perpetual and contrived tension. Yelling the news at me is counterproductive. I refuse to listen.
I’ve figured it out. They have no interest in me being informed; they want me angry. They will gladly fake their anger in order to give me an excuse to express and experience mine. Angry people are easier to manipulate. Godliness offers the way to see beyond and seek the better way. Stewing in our own aggravation is a waste of the spiritual energy that God gives to us.
Godliness invigorates, energizes and generates possibilities. Godliness puts us in touch with a power that speaks worlds into existence. "And God said, Let there be light: and there was light."
Let there be bird houses we build. Let there be children we love. Let there be vision and dreams of tomorrow when tomorrow means next Thursday. Think about it, Paul did tell Timothy to “lay hold on eternal life….”
I believe that taking hold begins in the here and now with the choices we make today. I believe that taking hold begins with imagining something other than the destruction of my presumed enemies. I believe that taking hold means there is more in this moment than the pathetic view that the narrow minded media offers me.
Godliness, which is the pulling of eternal life toward us, has other benefits. It recreates our fear as healthy caution and converts anger into creative energy. Godliness means we are not alone with the mess.
Maybe the best news about godliness is that it enables us to think. If we suspend our minds and use only the emotions of fear and anger to feel our way along, problems are neither defined nor solved; they are only complained about and railed against. With our head and hearts engaged, we are free to invest ourselves in the purpose of our lives.
The first thing I heard this morning was Blue Jays announcing their arrival at the feeder. The second thing I heard was the Apostle Paul giving me a choice between the lead subject of the Big Six or the channel changer.
What should I do?