Altar Call - Opelika-Auburn News
Walter Albritton
January 25, 2009


A few things that are worth doing as long as you live


Almost every night my wife asks me, “What are you going to do tomorrow?” Then I share with her whatever plans I have for the next day. Her question reminds me that life is about “doing” things. We do this; we do that.

During a lifetime we all have the opportunity to do many things. We do things that are wise and some things that are foolish. Some bring joy, others disappointment. Eventually we learn there is not enough time or money to do everything. So we make choices and do things that are within our reach –things we believe will make us happy.  

As we grow older a dwindling supply of strength and enthusiasm curtails our activities. We tire more easily. We are more vulnerable to cynicism. We can more easily get down on ourselves – and other people – than when we were younger. The aging process takes its toll.  

Fortunate we are if early on we learn to distinguish between things that are worth doing and things that are not. Things that are worth doing add great value to life – our own and that of others. Things not worth doing rob us of meaning and joy.

There are also certain things that are worth their weight in gold – things that are worth doing as long as we live. These things we must not neglect lest we deny ourselves the supreme joy of living. Your list may differ slightly from mine but here are the things I believe are worth doing as long as we have breath.

One, encourage other people. The value of encouragement cannot be overestimated. Everybody needs it. Everybody can give it. Nobody lives well without it. Children need it. Young people need it. Adults need it. Old people must have it to survive. Look around every day for someone you can encourage. Offer it even when people seemed surprised by it and pretend not to care.

Two, speak graciously to people. Be friendly rather than rude or indifferent. Our culture has become too impersonal. Many people feel no need to speak to others. Sales clerks often do no more than tell the customer the cost of an item and extend a hand for the money. Then they return the change without offering even a "thank you" for shopping in the store. Such a scene can be changed in a heartbeat by a friendly word spoken in kindness.  The challenge, of course, is to speak graciously even to the person who seems indifferent.  

Three, smile at people. A frown requires more energy than a smile so do yourself a favor and smile a lot. Smile even when you are hurting yourself. Usually you will get a smile in return. I smile a lot because I don’t want even a stranger passing me to say, "There goes an old sourpuss; he must have heartburn." We have a choice when we meet people. We can frown, stare indifferently, or smile. A friendly smile is always the best choice.  

Four, offer others a positive attitude.  Be positive even when others are negative. Look for something positive in every situation. Negative talk never helps anyone. You will never go home at night, put your head on your pillow, and say, "All that negative talk sure did me a lot of good today!" Positive thinking inspires people to believe in themselves and make the most of a difficult experience.

Five, tell your friends how much they mean to you. Your friends need to know you care about them. If you don’t tell them, they may never know. 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. We can afford to lose our possessions; we cannot afford to lose our friends. When that happens, life becomes sour and meaningless. The truth is, we need each other.

Six, do a good deed 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, a card, or a letter. Share your pickles or cookies with someone. Take someone out to lunch. Give someone who is sick or discouraged a good book. Love can be expressed in many small and wonderful ways.

Seven, enjoy the beauty of the world. Take a moment to watch the rain fall or the tree tops swaying in the wind. Throw some cornbread to the little sparrows searching for food. Admire the flowers that dare to bloom even in wintertime. Study the rapidly changing shapes and colors of a sunrise or a sunset. Look to see if the moon is full. The world is filled with beauty; enjoy it!

Eight, write a few lines in your Bible. Jot down what a certain verse or passage means to you. One day you will be gone but your Bible will still be around. Leave a few choice observations of your own for your children or grandchildren to enjoy when they are looking through your Bible. Your faith can inspire their own faith as they reflect upon the meaning of your life.

Nine, take time to pray for awhile. Pray for your family and your friends. Pray for the people who irritate you. Pray for the President. Pray for our nation. Pray for understanding, so that you can use your time wisely by doing things that are worth doing. Give thanks for your blessings.  Enjoy what you have.  Be satisfied with it. Do not envy your neighbor. Contentment is its own reward. Thank God even for your aches and pains; they remind you that you are alive, and life is a precious gift.

Ten, apply the sweet oil of forgiveness to the wounds of the day. Harsh words separate people. But the separation need not be permanent. Pride is an infection of the soul for which forgiveness is the best medicine. Use it liberally.

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. + + +