Tag Archives: goodness

Calico’s Corner III

Half of the harm that is done in this world is due to people who want to feel important.  They don’t mean to do harm. But the harm does not interest them – TS Eliot

Psalm 37 tells us: Never envy the wicked!  2 Soon they fade away like grass and disappear. 3 Trust in the Lord instead.  Be kind and good to others; then you will live safely here in the land and prosper, feeding in safety.  4 Be delighted with the Lord.  Then he will give you all your heart’s desires.  5 Commit everything you do to the Lord.  Trust him to help you do it, and he will.  6 Your innocence will be clear to everyone.  He will vindicate you with the blazing light of justice shining down as from the noonday sun.  7 Rest in the Lord; wait patiently for him to act.  Don’t be envious of evil men who prosper.  8 Stop your anger! Turn off your wrath.  Don’t fret and worry—it only leads to harm. 9 For the wicked shall be destroyed, but those who trust the Lord shall be given every blessing.  10 Only a little while and the wicked shall disappear.  You will look for them in vain.  11 But all who humble themselves before the Lord shall be given every blessing and shall have wonderful peace.  12-13 The Lord is laughing at those who plot against the godly, for he knows their judgment day is coming.  14 Evil men take aim to slay the poor; they are ready to butcher those who do right.  15 But their swords will be plunged into their own hearts, and all their weapons will be broken.  16 It is better to have little and be godly than to own an evil man’s wealth; 17 for the strength of evil men shall be broken, but the Lord takes care of those he has forgiven.  18 Day by day the Lord observes the good deeds done by godly men, and gives them eternal rewards.  19 He cares for them when times are hard; even in famine, they will have enough.  20 But evil men shall perish.  These enemies of God will wither like grass and disappear like smoke.  21 Evil men borrow and ‘cannot pay it back’!  But the good man returns what he owes with some extra besides.  22 Those blessed by the Lord shall inherit the earth, but those cursed by him shall die.  23 The steps of good men are directed by the Lord.  He delights in each step they take.  24 If they fall, it isn’t fatal, for the Lord holds them with his hand.  25 I have been young and now I am old.  And in all my years I have never seen the Lord forsake a man who loves him; nor have I seen the children of the godly go hungry.  26 Instead, the godly are able to be generous with their gifts and loans to others, and their children are a blessing.  27 So if you want an eternal home, leave your evil, low-down ways and live good lives.  28 For the Lord loves justice and fairness; he will never abandon his people.  They will be kept safe forever; but all who love wickedness shall perish.  29 The godly shall be firmly planted in the land and live there forever.  30-31 The godly man is a good counselor because he is just and fair and knows right from wrong.  32 Evil men spy on the godly, waiting for an excuse to accuse them and then demanding their death.  33 But the Lord will not let these evil men succeed, nor let the godly be condemned when they are brought before the judge.  34 Don’t be impatient for the Lord to act!  Keep traveling steadily along his pathway and in due season he will honor you with every blessing, and you will see the wicked destroyed.  35-36 I myself have seen it happen: a proud and evil man, towering like a cedar of Lebanon, but when I looked again, he was gone!  I searched but could not find him!  37 But the good man—what a different story!  For the good man—the blameless, the upright, the man of peace—he has a wonderful future ahead of him.  For him there is a happy ending.  38 But evil men shall be destroyed, and their posterity shall be cut off.  39 The Lord saves the godly!  He is their salvation and their refuge when trouble comes.  40 Because they trust in him, he helps them and delivers them from the plots of evil men.

Calico was an Irishman who moved to Italy and found a job in the shipping industry.  He set out in life with good intentions but strictly relied upon himself as the singular source of information to guide his decisions.  As he rose in rank to captain on his ship, his lack of intimacy with the Lord, his inability to be reflective, and his sense of entitlement prevented him from leading in a Godly way.  Over time, his character and his ways led him from rising prominence to a fall into fury, something many of us have seen or experienced.  Calico may have good in him but his hubris is contemptible and offends the very fibers our morals are made of.  “O Lord, deliver me from the man of excellent intention and impure heart: for the heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked” – TS Eliot

His officers too were interesting people, ranging from empty-suited sailors to altruistic mariners.  At last glance, the seamen had successfully mounted a mutiny and subdued the captain.  The ship was five miles from the Italian coast on the Mediterranean.  She had a fire in her engine room and a hole in her hull.  With one functioning life boat that held 48 passengers, the three officers on deck were faced with the critical decision of how to save the remaining 84 sailors on board.

The flares had been set off and the beacons had been activated, but the Silk Utopia continued to toss and turn in the eye of the storm, without even radio recognition of their distress calls.  As the ship rocked nearly parallel to the sea on her port side, the second officer ordered the first officer to drive the life boat to shore with 45 of the sailors, the bound captain, and the third officer standing guard over him.  The second officer made this move because something had to be done immediately, she trusted the first officer to return with the life boat for the remaining sailors and she had faith in the third officer’s ability deliver the captain to the proper authorities unharmed.  The second officer remained aboard the ship with the remaining sailors to fight the fire and bail water.  When the first officer returned, he fished 12 life-jacketed sailors from the sea.  The other 23 sailors and the second officer then made it safely onto the life boat.

My reflection on this story reminded me that in the midst of the storms of life, the waves will bash and thrash about without regard for goodness, fairness, or righteousness.  When we stand under the weight of the problem alone, the pressure can seem crushing.  But prayer is the pressure release valve.  Calling upon The One who makes all things possible is the answer to any outstanding question.  Also:

  1. Our God inhabits every place
  2. He builds us each for a specific purpose in His kingdom
  3. 28 We are confident that God is able to orchestrate everything to work toward something good and beautiful when we love Him and accept His invitation to live according to His plan. Romans 8
  4. 7 Ask, and you will be given what you ask for. Seek, and you will find. Knock, and the door will be opened. 8 For everyone who asks, receives. Anyone who seeks, finds. If only you will knock, the door will open. – Matthew 7
  5. “If you don’t stand for something, you will fall for anything” – Malcolm X

In What It’s Like, Everlast illustrates the complexities under the squall with, I’ve seen a rich man beg.  I’ve seen a good man sin.  I’ve seen a tough man cry.  I’ve seen a loser win and a sad man grin.  I heard an honest man lie.  I’ve seen the good side of bad and the down side of up, and everything between.  God forbid you ever had to walk a mile in his shoes, ’cause then you really might know what it’s like to sing the blues… to have to choose…to have to lose.

As my final thought on these characters, Matthew 6:12-13 says pray like this…12 and forgive us our sins, as we have forgiven those who sin against us.  13 And don’t let us yield to temptation, but rescue us from the evil one.  (NLT)


Curbside Justice

Yesterday, after returning from a women’s retreat that included a three-hour drive through the Allegany Mountains, I stopped by the store to pick up a few items. As I approached the entrance, I saw a familiar face strolling along the curbside headed towards the same entry door. It was one of the store cashiers who was returning from a break. She was talking on her cell phone to someone about issues related to a job corps. I entered the store and went on my way to get my groceries.

When I completed my shopping, I noticed that same cashier had opened a lane and was wiping down the counters while waiting for a customer to arrive. Although no one was waiting in her line, I passed her register so I wouldn’t have to face the social ills that make me uncomfortable. You see, a few weeks earlier, I was at her register and noticed she had bruises on her neck and chest and her arm was in a bandage. When I asked her what happened, she said she was clumsy and had fallen down the stairs. The shapes and location of her bruising made her story implausible. What challenged the strength of my heart strings even more is that she had severe dental issues and appeared to be six months pregnant or two days postpartum. My lack of desire for seeing her bilious condition is what caused me to pass her register. Then the parable of the Good Samaritan came to mind. Luke 10:30-35 says, “30 This fellow was traveling down from Jerusalem to Jericho when some robbers mugged him. They took his clothes, beat him to a pulp, and left him naked and bleeding and in critical condition. 31 By chance, a priest was going down that same road, and when he saw the wounded man, he crossed over to the other side and passed by. 32 Then a Levite who was on his way to assist in the temple also came and saw the victim lying there, and he too kept his distance. 33 Then a despised Samaritan journeyed by. When he saw the fellow, he felt compassion for him. 34 The Samaritan went over to him, stopped the bleeding, applied some first aid, and put the poor fellow on his donkey. He brought the man to an inn and cared for him through the night. 35 The next day, the Samaritan took out some money—two days’ wages to be exact—and paid the innkeeper, saying, “Please take care of this fellow, and if this isn’t enough, I’ll repay you next time I pass through.” (The Voice)

Feeling convicted, I prayed Give Me Your Eyes by Brandon Heath as a prayer. It says, “Give me Your eyes for just one second. Give me Your eyes so I can see everything that I keep missing. Give me Your love for humanity. Give me Your arms for the broken-hearted; the ones that are far beyond my reach. Give me Your heart for the ones forgotten. Give me Your eyes so I can see.” My grandmother’s voice then spoke to me and said, “If you don’t get your rump back there…” My mind shrieked back, “But I have nothing to give!”

Still feeling anxious about what I would encounter and what God might call me to do, in an act of obedience, I turned my cart around and went to her lane (all the while praying that I would have a genuine and positive reaction to her.) I then asked God again to allow me to see her through His eyes.

She courteously greeted me. As I stood in front of her and she would not make eye contact with me, I quickly realized that injustice in her life was all too common. Her alcohol-atrophied skin, meth-ravaged teeth, and native Virginia dialect that made southern Ebonics sound like the king’s English, told a story of perpetual marginalization of a disenfranchised life.

James 2:18-20 tells us, 18 “I know what you’re thinking: ‘OK, you have faith. And I have actions. Now let’s see your faith without works, and I’ll show you a faith that works.’  Don’t you realize that faith without works is useless, like a glove without a hand or a hat without a head?  19 Do you think that just believing there’s one God is going to get you anywhere? The demons believe that, too, and it terrifies them!  20 The fact is, faith has to show itself through works performed in faith.  If you don’t recognize that, then you’re an empty soul.” (The Voice)

I first noticed that her stomach was flat. I wondered if she lost her baby or circumstances required her to return to work immediately after delivery. I didn’t ask, I just prayed. I also saw that her previously bandaged forearm had a Japanese script tattoo. When I asked her the significance of it, her gaze raised from foot level to knee level as she told me it was her name. I asked when she got it, where she is from, and if she gets to see her family often? With each question answered, her line of sight adjusted to my waist, then chest, then shoulders. When she finished ringing me up and handed me my receipt, I told her thank you. I pushed my cart a few feet as she began helping the next person in line. I paused, called her by name and said, “have a nice evening.” She smiled, looked over her shoulder into my eyes and with great sincerity said, “Thank you so much.” I then realized I did have something to give. I gave her basic human dignity and respect.

The encounter made me understand that justice is best administered through the fruits of the holy spirit and that injustice is caused by a deprivation of the fruits. The experience left me with this:

  1. This world is not just but we can bring moments of justice to it
  2. Regardless of one’s condition, love has a soothing essence
  3. Every moment is an opportunity to disburse kindness, goodness, and gentleness
  4. Curbsides and mountainsides are equal when it comes to sending and receiving joy, peace, and patience
  5. Faithfulness and self-control go a long way in building His Kingdom

Margaret Anderson says, “As I look at the human story I see two stories.  They run parallel and never meet.  One is of people who live, as they can or must, the events that arrive; the other is of people who live, as they intend, the events they create.” In the Kingdom of God, the two are designed to meet and on His demand, frequently do. Proverbs 30:12-13 reminds us just how close we are with, “12 Don’t imagine yourself to be quite presentable when you haven’t had a bath in weeks. 13 Don’t be stuck-up and think you’re better than everyone else.” (MSG)