July 25, 2011

What a Smile Reveals

Recently, when I picked up a newspaper at a local service station, the clerk at the register smiled and wished me a good day. I left with a smile on my own face.

Much is revealed in a person’s smile.

On the front page of our local Penn Yan Chronicle Express a short time ago, was the story of 14-year old Erma Zimmerman who lost her left leg and a portion of her right leg below the knee in a farming accident. Erma was interviewed in her home by Gwen Chaberlain, the editor of the paper who wrote, “Looking at Erma’s beaming smile, it’s hard to believe she nearly perished in a farm accident just a few weeks ago.”

Much is revealed in a person’s smile.

According to author and speaker, Christine Whelan, who teaches courses on the social psychology of self improvement, “a smile is the universal language of welcome, of happiness, of pleasure.” I would add that a smile is also a reflection of a person’s courage, self confidence and positive attitude.

None of us is in control of the future. As Erma Zimmerman discovered, our life can change in an instant. But we are all in control of our attitude toward our circumstance, whatever they may be. And though our lives may be turned upside down in a moment, if we have faith in God, then, to paraphrase St. Paul’s letter to the church at Rome, “. . . There is nothing in death or life — nothing in all creation that can separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord.”

“Nothing can separate us from the love of God.” Now that’s a reason for confidence and courage. That’s a reason to smile.

July 11, 2011

Sowers of Seeds

This spring, Nancy and I bought seven tomato plants, including a new variety called Tomaccito, a raisin tomato, bred to dry naturally into a healthy, portable snack.

As of today, one plant is so tall, I recently added a seven foot stake. Another, a tomaccito, has seventy tomatoes on it and forty blossoms. Another variety has blossoms but no tomatoes, and one of the initial seven died a month after it was planted.

I was reminded of our tomatoes, when Babs Steinert, our pastor while Judy White is on sabbatical leave, spoke of Jesus’ parable of the sower who planted seeds on a path, on rocky ground, among thorns, and on good soil. The results were varied, just as the yield of the plants in our tomato patch vary.

Of course, the four types of soil in Jesus’ parable represent the different responses to God’s word as recorded in the Scriptures and revealed to us in sermons, in song and in writings. Recently, I found an inspirational sower in Through My Eyes, the autobiography and testimony of professional football quarterback, Tim Tebow.

Tebow, one of the greatest quarterbacks in the history of college football, not only led The University of Florida to two national championships, but he was also the first college sophomore to be awarded the Heisman Trophy. Today, Tebow plays for the Denver Broncos.

In addition to being an an inspirational leader and a talented athlete, Tim Tebow is a committed Christian, and he speaks often and eloquently about his love for Jesus. How refreshing it is to have this highly visible, outstanding athlete speak out so fervently about his faith in God. Tim Tebow is an inspirational winner and an able enthusiastic sower of God’s Word.

This remarkable young man ends his book, Through My Eyes, with this sentence:

I simply pray that I will continue to have the humbling privilege to touch others and lift them up through His Word — all for His glory.

I say, “Amen” to that prayer.