Southern Rest

The band Cage the Elephant had a song that went something like this: “There ain’t no rest for the wicked / Money don’t grow on trees / I got bills to pay, I got mouths to feed, and ain’t nothing in this world for free / Oh no, I can’t slow down, I can’t hold back even though I wish I could / Oh no, there ain’t no rest for the wicked / until we close our eyes for good.” It’s a catchy song trying to explain why people do bad things by saying that it is the only choice they have in this tough world that will not give them any respite.

Is this true? Do we have no other option than to lie, cheat, steal, and kill in order to get by in this dark, evil, fallen world? I will submit that living immorally seems to make life easier, at least for a time, but you will always get caught, and then what has your easier path gained you? You now have a punishment that may or may not fit your crime.

“Life is hard. It’s even harder if you’re stupid,” remarked the great John Wayne. Since life is hard, and trying to be evil ends up with consequences, how do we get a break from life’s toils?

The Bible has many answers. Christ said “Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls (Matthew 11:29 NIV).” Psalms 55:22 avers “Cast your cares on the Lord and He will sustain you; He will never let the righteous be shaken.” “ Cast all your anxiety on him because he cares for you,” 1 Peter 5:7 adds.

The Lord will not allow us to be tempted with anything that we cannot handle ourselves (1 Corinthians 10:13). This means that there is no excuse for falling into and getting stuck in temptation; however, it can get exhausting. In cases like this, we are to rely on God to sustain us. Yes, we can beat these temptations and hard times by ourselves, but we need God to strengthen us when we tire.

Over the past two weeks, I have worked two days due to snow and ice cancelling school. During this “Snowcation”, I have been able to rest. I slept in, relaxed with my wife when it was too dangerous for her to go to work, and recharged my batteries. It was really good for me personally to have this break.

As rewarding as this physical rest was for me, God offers a spiritual rest that is much more valuable. The fleshly body is weak and requires more rest than the soul, but this does not mean that the spirit is eternally unflagging. Worry can not only tire the body, but it can stress out the soul. If we give our worries to Christ, He can carry them for us while our soul rejuvenates.

Take time to visit the Psalms and Proverbs. Find respite in God’s word. Soothe your soul in the Gospels. Rest in the writings of Paul. This world is rough, but God protects His children from life’s storms.

Peace. Love. Roll Tide.

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Southern Gratitude

When someone does something nice for you, you thank them. Momma taught me that as a child and made sure it stuck as I got older. It’s called gratitude, and it’s a lost art. Most of you probably know that, and are shaking your heads because you think I’m talking about the kids.

You’re wrong.

Well, kids struggle with it too, but how can you blame young people for not learning something that has to be taught by parents? Adults have forgotten the art of the Thank You. It’s a simple skill. Just say “Thanks” when someone holds the door open for you, wave when someone lets you over on the interstate, or write a note to someone showing appreciation for the gift they gave you, and you have shown gratitude. Seems simple, right? Then tell me, why is it so rare?

Gratitude has been replaced by entitlement. People have confused gifts and kindnesses with their “rights”. They think that they are supposed to have these things, that they are owed them. The saddest part about this situation is that most people don’t even realize it. This is saddest because they were never taught gratitude.

Parents, teach your children to be thankful for what they have and for what they are given. The best way you can teach this is by your own actions. The old adage holds true that actions speak louder than words. Children learn by watching and imitating.

My wife is an excellent example of this. When she is given a gift, she writes a thank you note to the giver. This note is more than just a simple “Thank you for the _______. I appreciate it.” kind of letter. She has actually gotten thank you notes for her thank you notes! Why does she do this? She does it because her mother did it and still does. Her mother does it because her mother did it and still does. I never knew my wife’s great-grandmother, but I would bet that she wrote thank you notes as well.

My first child, a girl, will be born this May. I have wondered how I will be as a father. I hope I won’t be terrible, and if I am conscious about my words and actions, I won’t be. For those wondering, yes, I will have these blogs printed out and on hand, so I won’t become, or raise, the people about whom I rant.

The Bible tells of three things that will last when all else fails: faith, hope, and love, and the greatest is Love. Most people mistake love as a romantic Valentine’s Day thing, but you’re wrong again. God is love. In fact, 1 Corinthians 13, what is mostly referred to as the “love chapter” and read at weddings, does not include the word “love” in the King James version. It says charity, which has the definition: “The voluntary giving of help to those in need.”

Charity is caring for others. Is this not also love? If you care for others, and “do unto other as you would have done to you,” would this not include showing gratitude? Therefore, showing gratitude is showing love. The greatest commandment is to love God with all your heart, soul, mind, and strength. The second is like it: love others.

Peace. Love. Roll Tide