You don’t have to wait to be accepted.

acceptance 2Anyone with college-aged kids knows the inundating routine that is college applications. Visit campuses. Choose a few schools to focus on. Make applications. Fill out forms. Write essays.

For anyone who hasn’t “been there, done that,” the filing of the application and financial aid forms is nothing compared to the waiting. It’s like the first time you look at your girlfriend or boyfriend and say, ‘I love you.” You’ve made the first move. And then you wait. You wait to see if they respond in turn.

For the college applicant, the end of the waiting is signaled with a letter in the mailbox – hopefully saying “You have been accepted.”
We all have a desire to be accepted, don’t we? In fact, that desire made it into Maslow’s well-known hierarchy of needs. He theorized that acceptance is basic to our nature and to our psychological health.

Ruth had the same need as we do. She was a Moabite living in Bethlehem who we meet in The Story. She ended up there with her mother-in-law Naomi when her husband died. And she found herself picking up the leftovers after the harvest in a field owned by Boaz.

Boaz discovered she was an outsider—a Moabite—the same people who would oppress his nation for eighteen years. You’d expect fireworks when they met. Instead,accepted-1024x240 Boaz tells Ruth, “May you be richly rewarded by the Lord, the God of Israel, under whose wings you have come to take refuge.”

His acceptance of Ruth goes a step further. Ruth finds him asleep on the threshing floor and lies down at his feet. When he awakens, Ruth asks him to “spread the corner of your garment over me, since you are a family guardian.” The word for “garment” is the same Hebrew word for “wings” in the blessing Boaz had pronounced over Ruth. God’s acceptance came to Ruth through Boaz.

Your acceptance did too. You see, Boaz and Ruth had a son named Obed, the father of Jesse, the father of David. In Matthew’s genealogy the lineage of Jesus is traced through David. Boaz is there too along with his mother Rahab (Matt. 1:5). Yes, that Rahab. The prostitute that lived in Canaan and sheltered the two spies Joshua sent into the land.

Advertisements

Hold the spit!

spitting   This morning, as I came to the end of my run, I was in my cool down mode. I had just passed my house, when one of my neighbors, from across the street, backed out of his driveway. He saw me as I passed and cautiously asked, “I’m sorry, did I get too close to you?” “Of course not”, I said. He was not close at all.

 

As he drove away, I was in the process of clearing the thick saliva from my mouth, at the end of a 6 mile workout, and spitting it on the side of the road. At that moment, the thought came to me, “what if my neighbor thinks my spitting is a response to him?” You see, my neighbor is African-American. So I decided to hold my spit until he was well out of sight, and then I let it go.

 

As insignificant as this might seem, it was a wake-up call to me about how sensitive I need to be with my actions and reactions in today’s culture, especially when it comes to those of a different race or ethnicity. Racism is alive and strong today. Even though the Bible says God is no respecter of persons, we live in a culture that is charged with racist feelings and incidents. Some of these are intentional and calculated. Others may appear to be discriminatory but are anything but that.

 

One thing I don’t want to be is misinterpreted and seen as disrespectful or prejudiced in any way. There are times, though, when my actions might be misunderstood, so I have decided to hold my spit. In fact, here are a few other actions that I have decided to take when it comes to all people.

 

Equal Greetings: I want to welcome all people with the same kind of warmth. That means, going out of my way toprejudice greet and show acceptance. I will talk and interact with them. And there’s no better greeting than a good hug. So I hug those who are like me, and those who are different than I. I refuse to accept some and ignore others.

 

Equal respect: I will look at people when I talk to them. I will talk to them and not at them or past them. I will give my attention to them. Nothing is more aggravating and disrespectful than to deal with a person in a public service position, in a service sector job, who hardly acknowledges your presence. Respect means giving them my presence and attention.

 

Equal care: People get down and out. Times turn ugly rapidly. Ends don’t meet. Whether it is food, a ride, a little money for gas, clothes or whatever, I will see the need and not the color of the skin or the ethnicity of the person. And I will respond according to the need and my ability to meet that need whether they are like me or different from me.

 

Equal restraint: That means, as I began this post, refraining from any action that might be misinterpreted or misunderstood. I will hold my spit, turn after them instead of in front of them, be courteous and let them go in line in front of me even though I  am starving or in a big hurry. The Bible says to “abstain from all appearances of evil.” That could just as well say “abstain from all appearances of prejudice.”

 

racismEqual encouragement: Everyone needs encouragement. Life is hard. We get knocked down. Sometimes it is totally unexpected. Other times it is just what we deserved. It is easy to encourage those of our kind. It is also easy to encourage those who we know will encourage us back. It is maturity, being like Jesus, to encourage those who are different than us. After all, that woman that Jesus met at the well, who found the water of life in him, was of a different race and nationality that he was. He reached out and gave to her what no one else had ever offered, acceptance, encouragement, and new life. I will commit to doing the same!

 

So check the temperature, your outfit, your hair, your wallet to make sure you have money, the gas in your tank, the weather forecast, your schedule, and 1000 other things. But above all else, check your attitude about other people, other people who are different than you whether it be gender, race, ethnicity, socioeconomic status, or whatever. May we be devoted to removing every hint of favoritism, discrimination and prejudice in how we act toward ALL PEOPLE. Hold the spit!

The Serenity Prayer—All of it

Millions of people pray the Serenity Prayer every day.  You’re familiar with this part:  “God grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, the courage to change the things I can, and the wisdom to know the difference.”  That is a very famous prayer by a man named Reihold Neibor.  But it is edited.  There are eight more lines to the Serenity Prayer that you may never have heard.  That’s where all the power is.  The power of peace is not in the first part of the prayer.  It’s in the part that has been cut out. Here’s the whole prayer.

“God grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change,

The courage to change the things I can,

And the wisdom to know the difference.

Living one day at a time

Enjoying one moment at a time

Accepting hardship as the pathway to peace

Taking, as Jesus did, this sinful world as it is not as I would have it

Trusting that You, God, will make all things right if I surrender to Your will

So that I may be reasonably happy in this life

And supremely happy with You forever in the next.  Amen.

It makes a little bit of difference, doesn’t it?  All of the power is in the second part of the prayer.  It’s through the acceptance, the trust, the surrender that you find the path to peace.