Tuesday, November 21, 2006


"I haven't had a bad day in 35 years."

His name is Steve.

"I have had a few bad minutes in otherwise pretty good days, but I never have bad days."

Steve's optimism is unmatched. He loves to smile and laugh. He always has a joke or a funny saying to share, like "The US Postal service is looking into this email thing...they are just looking for ways to make it slower and more expensive before they get involved." He bubbles with contentment and joy. He loves to serve. All of this is amazing considering the hand that life has dealt him recently.

You see, Steve ran a small restaurant in Hasting for 13 years that quickly became very successful. He got to do what he loved to do and get paid for it. Life was good. Then, in the spring, the landlord inexplicably wanted to get rid of Steve's business and get some new blood in the building, forcing Steve and his business to look elsewhere (the building remains empty still, 6 months later). With the prices of all of the new strip malls being driven up by national conglomerates like Starbucks and Chipotle, Steve was forced to rent a smaller place across the river in Prescott, a town a 6th of the size of Hastings. They now have days where they may only see 1 or 2 customers. They have gone from a very successful restaurant with many friends and regulars to struggling to get by.

What is Steve's response to all of this? "Any day I wake up on this side of death is a good day. And, even if I do go, I have made my peace and I'm not worried in the least!" he announces jovialy. This short, grey haired hippie embodies something that I think we would all do better to learn. With the rates of depression and suicide rising, as well as financial and social pressures at, perhaps, an all time high in this world, Steve remains of the forefront of joy.

The Bible talks a bit about this sort of thing. It offers advice such as "Be joyful always" and to "be content, no matter what the circumstances." The Psalms describe praise to our God as lifting the "spirit of heaviness," letting the "oil of gladness flow down." If this is the case, then why are more Christians not joyful, glad, and optimistic like Steve? Is it a spiritual thing? Is it an attitudinal thing?

I think both are true. But, more than that, I think we are at a time when we need Christians who love living. I am not sure we do anymore, honestly. A hundred years ago, hymns were being written saying things like "if I can just tarry one more weary day" the Lord might come back. I think, on some level, we still believe that today. Is that the attitude God wants us to have? Are we to limp along in this life hoping for the sweet release of death? Is that the best witness of the life changing power of Jesus and the joy that he brings?

To conclude, I quote Rob Bell in the Nooma Video Trees:

May you trust Jesus, when he says that death has been taken care of, and that you can live forever with God, that you're never, ever, ever going to stop living. May you believe that death has been taken care of, and you can be a partner with God in redeeming and restoring this fallen, broken, hurting world. That you can literally be a partner with God in making this the kind of place that God originally intended it to be. May you be the kind of person who, when you live this way, the very trees of Paradice are being planted.

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