"What man of you, having a hundred sheep, if he loses one of them, does not leave the ninety-nine in the wilderness, and go after the one which is lost, until he finds it? And when he has found it, he lays it on his shoulders, rejoicing. And when he comes home, he calls together his friends and neighbors, saying to them, 'Rejoice with me, for I have found my sheep which was lost!'"
July 7, 2010
Have you ever met someone who seems to thrive on being contrary? They give the impression of intentionally going out of their way to be stubborn and obnoxious. There seems to be no purpose whatsoever in their actions, but they appear to get a thrill out of being difficult. The observation from those who have contact with them is that they're a jerk and find pleasure in being uncooperative.
When Jon and I were recently driving through Wyoming we were on an interstate, with good roads (which we're not used to in Oklahoma), and a speed limit of 70. I was driving while Jon napped. It had been raining off and on, but the rained cleared up and traffic was moving along really well. I got behind a semi who was driving at a steady 65 mph. Before I had a chance to pass him, another semi came along beside me in the passing lane, so I slowed down to let him by. He had a couple cars following him at that time.
But for some unknown reason, instead of passing when he got beside the semi in front of me, he dropped his speed down even with that truck. The semi in front of me kept his cruise at an even 65 (even though the speed limit was 70), but the other trucker refused to go on around and get out of the way. He'd start to speed up a little when he was going down an incline, but would brake to slow down. Occasionally he would slow down a bit where the front of his truck was even with the other semi trailer, but not enough for me or anyone else to get through. He did this for miles! By this time traffic was getting back up a long ways in both lanes.
We weren't irritated with the semi driver in front of us because he was keeping an even speed 5 mph below the speed limit, so there was no reason why the other driver couldn't go on around him. You could tell that the semi driver who was in the passing zone was intentionally being a jerk. It was obvious that he wasn't using his cruise control because he was speeding up and slowing down. This probably went on for at least 20-30 minutes. The semi driver in front of us finally had to brake and slow way down so the other truck would go on around him.
As you can imagine, drivers were really irritated with the obnoxious semi driver by this time. As they finally got a chance to go around him they were honking, flipping him the bird, giving dirty looks, and generally letting their opinion of him be known. Another trucker, who had been behind us in all this mess, went around him, then got right in front of him and slowed way down and wouldn't let him pass.
There was absolutely no reason for this trucker to act in this manner and block traffic for so many miles. I was so irritated by the time we got around him that I just wanted to get on down the road and as far away as I could. But I'm sure if he had one of those "How's my driving? Call 1-800" signs on the back of his truck that several people probably called and complained. I actually might have called had I thought about it at the time!
Why do people find pleasure in being contrary? Perhaps it's because they're so miserable themselves that they hate seeing other people happy. Maybe something bad happened in their life and they've never got over it. I think some people just get into a habit of complaining and griping about everything that it becomes second nature to them.
Perhaps the other trucker had done something earlier, maybe even accidentally or unintentionally, that made the semi driver angry so he was trying to get revenge by being a jerk. If so, he wasn't making the cruise-control driver look bad, but was only making himself look like a complete moron. We'll never know the reasoning behind his actions. But all the other drivers heading west on the interstate were having to pay the price. We all had to slow down below the speed limit and traffic got backed up.
Nehemiah says, "The joy of the Lord is our strength." When we lose our joy, then we will become weak and lose strength. Maybe not physically, although being stressed and worried can cause health issues, but perhaps emotionally and mentally. Even though life may not be great at all times, when we find joy in our relationship with God, then we will find that He will give us strength in all circumstances.
There is a part of Yellowstone knows as Mammoth Hot Springs. A few years ago when Jon went his first time, this area had a lot of water flowing over the various formations. But an earthquake shifted something and dried most of the water up. Now the area is filled with a lot of white and black formations with bright orange splashes of color. Some of our pictures almost look like we had taken them in black and white and used a program to add in spot of bright color. Trees that have been left in this area are soaking up the white minerals through the roots and the tree trunks are turning white. Some of the pools of water are bright greens and blues. As we walked through the area, it almost looked like we were on another planet. It was incredible to see.
But they say that if no other catastrophe occurs within the next few years this hillside of beautiful formations and color will be covered with forest. We could already see areas where small trees and flowers had taken root and were beginning to grow. It's amazing to think that an area could go from water covered, to barren and rock, to perhaps forest area someday.
There can be cycles in nature, just as there are in life. Volcanoes, earthquakes and fires have all occurred in Yellowstone. And they have changed the landscape drastically. We saw areas where the various fires have ravaged large sections of land. There was one area where the trees and ground were still black. Yet in other areas where there have been major fires, there is new growth everywhere you look. There was one large section that had had a fire in 1988 and there was a sign that said it had self reseeded and it was thick with new trees.
Another area had an earthquake in 1998 and the temperature below ground afterwards got to over 200 degrees. It literally cooked the tree roots and they uprooted and fell over. Thermal hot pots of water boiled up from underground and created new formations above ground. The area has a strong sulphur smell and it stinks, and there are dead trees lying all over. But it was amazing to see the outcome of that disastrous event. There was one area that looked like a cave opening and you could hear the water boiling and hissing inside as steam poured out. But the brilliant green and orange on the rock of the entryway to the were an unexpected surprise. It wasn't what we were expecting to see.
Out of natural disasters new beauty can be created and formed. It may be something completely different than the old, but it has its own special qualities. As Jon and I were walking around we read the signs that explained why some of the areas looked as they did. Yet as we looked around and saw the outcome, our comment was that only God could have taken something tragic and make something so gorgeous out of it.
That's the same with our lives. Things happen that we don't and can't anticipate, and it can be very heartbreaking and seem catastrophic at the time. It may change our lives so drastically that we see no way that anything good can ever happen again.
When I was a young, black-haired, freckled faced girl, my life was care-free. I had awesome parents and four older sisters who spoiled me, and I had no way of knowing how drastically my life would change when I was 15. I thought that my parents would always be there to watch me grow up and take care of me. I thought when I became an adult that they would always be there for me to go visit and to spend time with. I never anticipated my mom dying from cancer. I never anticipated my dad remarrying. And I never anticipated my dad dying almost three years ago. But those things did happen. And I had to deal with the losses and changes each time. I had to accept the fact that my ideal world wasn't perfect and that "life" happens and doesn't always turn out as we dream and anticipate that it will.
When things change in our lives, it may effect the whole landscape around us. No one wants to consider losing a spouse, parent or child. But that happens every day. When you fall in love and have that perfect wedding, people don't go into it thinking about divorce (or at least they shouldn't). But that happens every day too. Jobs and careers are lost. There may be times of financial difficulties and the daily struggle to eke by. When you're sitting around the kitchen table or on vacation with your kids, you don't consider that there may come a time of rebellion and severed relationships. But that occurs too. Life happens, and it's not always pleasant.
But out of the ugliness, the stink and the mess can come beauty. It may look completely different from before, and sometimes you may have to look a little harder to see the bright spots and loveliness, but it's there if we're willing to search for it. We can discover a part of life that we never knew was possible. It may not always mean that it was better than it was before; but it has changed and we have to change with it.
We can handle stinky life situations like the contrary trucker who had everyone around him angry and upset with him. We can be hateful, rude and filled with bitterness; and make those we come in contact with miserable, and end up friendless. Or we can choose to search for those hidden treasures that have cropped up from the seemingly disastrous situation and see what God created out of the mess. We can find joy in adverse circumstances and see the splashes of color that God paints in our otherwise bland landscape. And as we go seeking for the beauty, more and more will be revealed to us.
Ecclesiastes chapter 3 begins, "To everything there is a season, a time for every purpose under heaven." Verse 11 states that, "He has made everything beautiful in its time."
We recently had lunch with a relative who loves to be contrary. If you told him the sky was a beautiful blue, he'd argue that it was actually azure. If you agreed that he was right, he'd say, "On second thought, I think it's more of a mayflower."
He doesn't so much want to start arguments as debates. If everyone backed down and agreed with him, he'd probably quit. It would lose all the fun. For him, it's all a matter of getting people to start a debate, thinking through arguments to back whichever position he picks, and getting others to back up their opinions.
I recently read about a show that debates the creation of the Universe, and how or why God created it the way He did. Someone seemed very offended that anyone would question God's creation. But sometimes, it's useful to have our beliefs questioned. When we stop and think through why we believe what we do, our beliefs become stronger faith. I can say that I believe God is real because of how He's worked in my life. When Loretta and I were nearly in a wreck last week, it was a miracle that not a single car hit another. When Loretta and I have felt loss, God has been there to comfort us. When we look around, we can see God's creation.
Recently, we sang a song with a line, "Open the eyes of my heart, Lord. I want to see You." When we saw Yellowstone, it was clear that we were seeing the reflection of God in His work.
How long did Noah live after the flood?
What was the name of Abraham and Hagar's son?
Who did Jacob marry?
What was the relationship between Jacob's wives?
Who were Joseph's parents?
1-2 squash, cut into chunks
1/2 cup cheese
Chopped green pepper
1 can cream of chicken soup
1/2 cup dry rice
1/2 cup sour cream
1 cup fresh diced tomatoes
Salt and pepper, to taste
Mix all ingredients together and put in a casserole dish. Bake at 350 until squash is tender, about 30 minutes.
350 years (Genesis 9:28)
Ishmael (Genesis 16:15)
Leah and Rachel (Genesis 29)
They were sisters (Genesis 29:16)
Jacob and Rachel (Genesis 30:22-25)
Hatred stirs up strife, but love covers all sins. Proverbs 10:12
We love you!
Loretta & Jon