Altar Call - Opelika-Auburn News
Walter Albritton
May 20, 2001

Things worth doing as long as we have breath

Over the course of a normal lifetime each of us has the opportunity to do many things. Some bring us joy, others disappointment. Ultimately we discover that there is not enough time or money to do everything. So we make choices and do what we can while time and energy are available to us.

As we grow older we must contend with a dwindling supply of strength and enthusiasm. We tire more easily. We are more vulnerable to cynicism. We can more easily get down on ourselves and others than when we were younger. The aging process takes its toll on the best of us.

There is, however, value in remembering that there are certain things which are worth doing as long as we live. These things we must not neglect lest we lose our zest for living. Let us think together about the things that are worth doing as long as we have breath. Make your own list and compare it to mine.

One, encourage others. The value of encouragement cannot be overestimated. Everybody needs it. Everybody can give it. Every situation is improved by the presence of encouragement.

Nobody lives well without it. Children need it. Young people need it. Young adults need it. Old people must have it to survive. Look around you every day and encourage everyone you meet. Offer it even when people seemed shocked and surprised by it.

Two, speak to people in a friendly way. Many people in our society feel no need to speak to others. Sales clerks in our stores sometimes simply tell the customer the cost of an item and extend a hand for the money. Then they return the change without offering even so much as a "thank you" for shopping in the store. But both customer and clerk will feel better if they take a moment to offer a kind, friendly word to each other. The challenge, of course, is to speak graciously to someone even when they refuse to respond in kind.

Three, smile at people. Offer people a smile even when you are hurting yourself. Usually you will get a smile in return. I smile a lot because I donít want even a stranger passing me to say, "There goes old sourpuss; he must have indigestion." We have a choice when we meet people. We can frown, stare indifferently, or smile. A friendly smile can sometimes make a personís day.

Four, keep a positive attitude even when others are being negative. Look for something positive in every situation. Negative thinking never helps anyone. You will never go home at night, put your head on your pillow, and say, "What a great blessing all that negative thinking was to me today!" But positive thinking can inspire people to believe in themselves and make the most of a difficult experience.

Five, be thankful for your friends and let them know you care. A good friend is more precious than silver or gold. We are wise to value and cultivate our friendships. True friends help us to admit the truth about ourselves and encourage us to do our best in the daily tests of life. Real friendship can exist only when there is both giving and taking; it does not last where there is no mutual helpfulness. When our friends are hurting, we can hardly sleep at night. Thatís because we love them and we want the best for them. It hurts to see our friends hurt. We can afford to lose our possessions; we cannot afford to lose our friends. When that happens, life becomes sour and meaningless.

Six, do something thoughtful and loving for someone in need. If an apple a day is helpful, a good deed at day is more helpful. A good deed can be simple and inexpensive. Send someone a note or a card, or perhaps a letter. Share your turnip greens with someone. Mow someoneís lawn. Give someone who is sick or discouraged a good book like The Prayer of Jabez by Bruce Wilkinson, or Balcony People by Joyce Heatherly. Love can be expressed in many small and wonderful ways.

Seven, offer praise to God for your blessings. Enjoy what you have and be satisfied with it. Refuse to wish you could trade places with your neighbor. Contentment is its own reward. Consider yourself blessed, for you are. Millions of people are worse off than you are. Thank God even for your aches and pains for they remind you that you are alive, and life itself is a precious gift. Refuse to join the chorus of this worldís complainers who see nothing but the dark side. In spite of all that is mean, evil, and ugly, God is still good and he remains willing to bless those who trust him.

We cannot do everything but these are a few things that are worth doing as long as we have breath. And while none of us can do these things perfectly, we should be ashamed to die without having tried.