A cheerful heart brings a smile to your face; a sad heart makes it hard to get through the day. … A miserable heart means a miserable life; a cheerful heart fills the day with song. [Proverbs 15:13,15 (MSG)]
A cheerful disposition is good for your health; gloom and doom leave you bone-tired. [Proverbs 17:22 (MSG)]
Recently, long-time friends visited for a few days. They used to live across the street from us when we wintered in Colorado but, like us, their skis are long gone. The memories, however, are still fresh. As happens with old friends, we started reminiscing about blue bird days on the mountain, making first tracks down a slope of fresh powder, our favorite runs (for one person it was the “lunch run”), winter carnivals, and the people who made our mountain town so special.
Nearly every morning, we’d meet our friends at the bus stop for a short ride to the mountain. As we recalled packing like sardines onto the bus so one more skier could fit, we remembered the various bus drivers we had over the years. Without a doubt, our favorite was George. While he could have been the goodwill ambassador for our town, another driver I’ll call Grumpy did his best to make the ride miserable for everyone.
Grumpy never had a smile or a nice word to say to anyone. In fact, other than occasionally telling us to move back, we never heard him say a word. Believe me, we tried and made a point of greeting him by name, commenting on the weather, wishing him a good day, and thanking him when we got off. Determined to get him to respond, we’d ask him how he was doing that day, if he had a good weekend, or managed to get in any skiing. In the several years we were his passengers, we never got an answer or even a smile. The closest we ever got to seeing a grin was when Grumpy would take off from a stop even though he could see skiers running to catch the bus.
Both George and Grumpy were city bus drivers but their similarity ended with their occupation. No matter how crowded the bus, challenging the weather, or difficult his passengers, George always had a friendly greeting and a pleasant word. Whenever possible, he waited for any skiers hurrying to the bus and, when passengers got off the bus, he was sure to offer a cheery farewell and explain which bus to take back and where to board it. He exhibited great patience in a variety of challenging circumstances (and tourists can be very challenging) and showed true concern for his passengers. He wasn’t merely polite; George went out of way to be cordial and accommodating to everyone.
Both men had the same job and did what was required of them. One, however, clearly enjoyed both his job and life and the other, sad to say, just seemed determined to be miserable. From our conversations with George, we knew his life hadn’t been easy. As a single father, he struggled to make ends meet. We also knew that George was a man of faith and, as a man of faith, he was an ambassador for more than our ski town—he was one of Christ’s ambassadors! As for Grumpy—who knows? It’s hard to believe someone so disagreeable and grouchy knew Jesus. Perhaps, it was not knowing how much God loved him that made Grumpy unable to love his fellow travelers on this planet. He certainly couldn’t give away something he didn’t even know he had! Grumpy, however, seemed determined to stay in a desolate dull world of his own making.
One day while chatting with George on our way home, I mentioned the friendly demeanor, good humor, kindness, patience, and joy we saw whenever we rode with him. He responded, “Well, every morning I have a choice. I can rise and whine or rise and shine; I choose to shine!” George had a good point! We each have that same choice every morning with which God blesses us. What will you choose today?
There’s a decision we all have to make, and it seems perfectly captured in the Winnie-the-Pooh characters created by A.A. Milne. Each of us must decide: Am I a fun-loving Tigger or am I a sad-sack Eeyore? Pick a camp. [From “The Last Lecture” by Randy Pausch with Jeffrey Zaslow]
Do everything readily and cheerfully—no bickering, no second-guessing allowed! Go out into the world uncorrupted, a breath of fresh air in this squalid and polluted society. Provide people with a glimpse of good living and of the living God. Carry the light-giving Message into the night so I’ll have good cause to be proud of you on the day that Christ returns. [Philippians 2:14-15 (MSG)]
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