Pierogis and Peace

 

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If it is possible, as far as it depends on you, live at peace with everyone. – Romans 12:18 NIV

A Florida woman found herself behind bars over the holidays when she went after her brother with a knife for eating a plateful of pierogis.

According to the newspaper article, the siblings were at their mother’s home when the two got into an argument about the brother scarfing down the whole plateful. At some point, the 36-year-old woman grabbed a knife and threatened to retrieve the eaten goodies.

The article didn’t say whether the pierogis were homemade or how big the plate was. A serving platter? A dinner plate? Nor did it say whether they were the last of the dish or whether there had been a history of bad blood between the two.

The confrontation ended when the woman plunged the dagger into the hood of her brother’s truck.

Just when you think you’ve heard everything (shaking my head).

Not that I always got along with my siblings. My sister once threatened to drown me in the soapy water when we were doing dishes. Another time my brother grabbed me by the front of my shirt in anger. Imagine his surprise when I, five years younger and much smaller, grabbed his shirt right back. We three kids would get into it so badly at times, our mother fled across the street to her mother’s, saying, “Go ahead. Kill each other.”

Of course she didn’t mean it. We were typical siblings—we had our share of arguments. But we had good times together, too. After all, we were kids, not middle-aged adults who should know better than to fight over a plate of pierogis.

Sometimes it’s just a small thing that appears to incite the blowup.

But the eruption has been building over time, like volcanic gases building up far beneath the earth’s surface. We hold onto our hurts and slights and grievances and stew over them. We keep a record of wrongs, and when we’ve come to our breaking point, like a volcano that can’t contain the buildup of gases any longer, we explode.

(c) 2010 Walter Lim. Some rights reserved. Flicker.com
(c) 2010 Walter Lim. Some rights reserved. Flicker.com

A woman once justified her temper to me by likening it to a volcano. “Once I explode, that’s it,” she said.

“But look at the damage it does,” I replied.

How much better to avoid the eruption in the first place.

People are going to say and do things that irritate us. That hurt us deeply. Intentionally or unintentionally. I’ve known folks who are born faultfinders, folks who harbor a contentious spirit, folks who are just spoiling for a fight—with anyone. Perhaps they want revenge—to pay someone back for a hurt inflicted or a wrong suffered. The problem with revenge is where does it end?

It’s not our job to label folks, to judge them, or even to understand why they act the way they do. According to God’s Word, it is our job to get along with them and to love them.

Not easy, I know, but we can accomplish this by doing three things:

Focus on the good in that person. It is there. If you can’t see it, ask God to show you.

Forget the unkind word, the thoughtless or malicious deed, the harsh attitude, the contentious spirit. By forget, I mean don’t keep thinking about it. Ask God to help you truly not remember what that person said or did that hurt you. He’s done it for me.

And pray—for that person, for the situation, for your own actions and reactions, your heart attitude, and for peace to prevail.

How much, after all, is really worth fighting over?

Help me, Lord, to focus on the good, forget the bad, and forgive as You have forgiven me. Amen.

Read and meditate on Ephesians 4:20–32

(c) 2017 Michele Huey. All rights reserved.

Selah!

2017-sunrise

Selah!  – Psalm 46: 3, 7, 11 NIV

If I were to choose a Scripture that best describes my life in 2016, I’d select Psalm 46. The psalm begins, “God is our refuge and strength, an ever-present help in trouble.” The year was filled with many challenges, particularly health issues and family transitions.

If I were to choose a Scripture for the New Year—as a theme verse to reflect on throughout the year—I’d select a word used 74 times in the Bible, mostly in Psalms (71 times—the other three can be found in Habakkuk) and often overlooked. Perhaps we ignore it because it’s only one little word of five letters standing all by itself at the end of a verse. Perhaps we pay little attention to it because no one knows with certainty its meaning, not even biblical scholars. So we skip right over it and keep on reading.

But the word Selah is not to be ignored, even if we don’t know what it means.

Strong’s Concordance defines Selah as “to lift up, to exalt.”

So the first word I want to focus on is PRAISE.

Sometimes the phrase “Praise God!” slips through our lips almost meaninglessly and is soon forgotten. How often do we truly praise God—from the heart, not just the mouth?

On a recent drive to a doctor’s appointment, I spent nearly the entire 45 minutes praising God—aloud. It all started when I thanked Him for dry roads and good weather. One praise flowed after another. Once the pump was primed, the water of praise just gushed out.

Too often I focus on my problems, not on praise. Can it really be that much easier to list a litany of laments than all the ways God has lavished His love upon us?

Another definition for Selah is “the writer’s instruction to the reader to pause and exalt the Lord,” or “pause and calmly think of that!” (Note the exclamation point, which I didn’t add. It was already there.)

The focus here is on the word PAUSE. pause-button-3

How often do we intentionally pause and praise God? I’m ashamed to admit it, but I don’t give God the time He is due. Too often my prayer and Bible reading time is like rushing through the drive-through, gobbling junk to appease my hunger, rather than take the time to savor the banquet and sip from the overflowing cup of blessings my Lord places before me (Psalm 23: 5).

Try it. Put your day on pause and sit down and focus on the things you can praise God for. Little things. Big things. Speak them aloud—there’s power in the spoken word—or write them down. It won’t be long before the clouds of hopelessness and despair part and you feel the warmth of His sunshine flood your soul.

Pause and praise—and one more thing—PRESENCE.

Just as the meaning of Selah is uncertain, so are the days that will comprise 2017.

But of one thing I am certain: That His Presence will go with me (Exodus 33:14). For He has promised, “Never will I leave you; never will I forsake you” (Deuteronomy 31:6).

Thank You, Lord, for being with me every moment of every day. Remind me to pause and praise You often throughout the New Year. Amen.

Read and meditate on Psalm 46

NOTE TO READERS: Have you chosen a theme verse for 2017? Please email me at michelehuey@hughes.net and tell me what your verse is and why you chose it.

Happy New Year! May the LORD bless you and keep you. May the LORD make His face shine upon you and be gracious to you. May the LORD lift up His countenance on you and give you peace throughout the new year. (Numbers 6:24–26)

(c) 2017 Michele Huey. All rights reserved. Photo by Wilbur D. Huey. (c) 2015 Wilbur D. Huey. All rights reserved.