It was the day before the moving van arrived to take us from Minnesota to Massachusetts. At the dining room table were two movers, wrapping and packing the last of the kitchen in layers of paper. My husband, definitely an A-type, was in the eaves of the attic directly overhead, struggling to remove a youth bed mattress so he could take it to the dump. The new owners were to arrive in two days and he was determined that everything should be perfect.
All was going swimmingly when suddenly, without warning, my husband’s foot and leg crashed through the ceiling overhead --- the freshly painted ceiling, I might add.
Dead silence. Everything stopped. All four children froze. The two packers were fixated on the leg. I just stood there with my mouth open, cringing in anticipation of how my dearly beloved might choose to comment on this latest catastrophe. More silence. And then, blessedly, he burst into wild laughter, and pulled his leg back out of the wreckage, and he and the cursed mattress came back downstairs where we were all helplessly doubled over at the memory of his leg waving around through the dining room ceiling. And one of the men summed it up. He said, “Yep, Doc --- that’s a hundred dollar hole!” (1965 dollars!)
So how do you think God would really like us to react when we are stopped in our tracks by some unforeseen and decidedly unpleasant surprise, or some obnoxious person, or the failure of something we really, really wanted to succeed?
Back in the ‘70s a Christian music artist, whose name I have forgotten, shared a few thoughts in the middle of his excellent album. He reminded us about the shock-absorbers in our cars, and how they made the ride smoother and more comfortable for us. And he said that he was pretty sure that God wanted us to be His shock-absorbers. He said that when something hits us, we have a choice. We can always bounce the bad right back at someone else, and let the anger start a new journey bouncing off who knows how many people in its journey. Or we can react in a way that pleases God, and stops the damage, and we can let it end with us. We can be God’s shock-absorbers.
If we are to be the light of the world, then there really isn’t any place for yelling and screaming, or nasty hand-signals to the driver who cuts us off, or snarky comments to the clerk who offends us. We can really never know the life circumstance of that other stranger who treats us poorly, or what awful distraction may be causing what looks to us like rank ignorance. Even when faced with a direct confrontation there are almost always ways to defuse it without anger and retaliation. We do need to be God’s shock-absorbers, as much as we can, in this angry world.
It’s not easy for everyone. Some of us may have grown up with pretty short fuses. Some of us may even be a little proud of the way that we’ve taught people to treat us carefully and sort of walk on egg-shells around us. But that isn’t God’s way. Jesus didn’t teach us to be that way, and we know it.
“You are the salt of the earth, but what good is salt if it has lost
its flavor? Can you make it salty again? It will be thrown out
and trampled underfoot as worthless.
“You are the light of the world – like a city on a hilltop that cannot
be hidden. No one lights a lamp and then puts it under a basket.
Instead, a lamp is placed on a stand, where it gives light to
everyone in the house. In the same way, let your good deeds shine
out for all to see, so that everyone will praise your heavenly Father.”
Matthew 5: 13-16, NLT