Gas prices; life: Everyone is under pressure, so let’s be kind!

Your lives are a letter written in our hearts; everyone can read it and recognize our good work among you. Clearly, you are a letter from Christ showing the result of our ministry among you. This “letter” is written not with pen and ink, but with the Spirit of the living God. It is carved not on tablets of stone, but on human hearts… God has enabled us to be ministers of his new covenant. This is a covenant not of written laws, but of the Spirit. The old written covenant ends in death; but under the new covenant, the Spirit gives life.

2 Corinthians 3:1-6

This morning I have been fighting – struggling with – the sense of overwhelm that prompted me to write my “Is Anxiety a Sin?” essay a few months ago. Again, it’s nothing more dramatic than a “pile on” of circumstances that are difficult to manage. Not that life isn’t always challenging, but you never know at what point the balance is going to tip and it’s all – even temporarily – a little too much.

– gas station blues!

Of course there are so many variables, so many factors at play and combinations of pressures impossible to quantify, and it doesn’t make sense to say, “Just don’t worry about that..” or, like Scarlett O’Hara, “I can’t think about that right now… I’ll think about that tomorrow.” We cannot pick and choose, and it’s different for every person.

This is why I took this photograph at the gas station. I was filling up my little Golf TDi with diesel, and instead of being glad to be paying a few cents less than the last time, I felt horrified at the cost.

But it wasn’t the $80 fill up, it was that on top of the air conditioning repair, some extensive work under our house, and the leak in our mains water supply just as family are coming in. Not to mention the day to day stress associated with caring for my parents.

So what?

All this is simply my preface to what is really important. Everybody carries around baggage. Some more, some less. But there is no way to quantify it, to evaluate it, to decide on another’s behalf how they need to be handling it, or to even begin to know what is pressing down on someone’s soul at any given moment.

I don’t know if the person filling up beside me pumped their last few dollars into a car that needs repairs they can’t afford? I don’t know if the person at the traffic light is wrestling with some anguish? I don’t know if the cashier at the grocery store is caring for aging parents? I don’t know if the guy who just fixed my AC is maybe struggling with his marriage, or his children?

But what I do know is that I can be kind. I know how to smile instead of scowl. I know how to listen. I know how to pray.

I know that we need one another. Regardless of politics or culture wars or race or religion.

And I know how deeply I am loved and cared for. I know it from Rebekah, from our family in general, from our church, from my wide circle of friends. I know it from God. Pastor Mac puts it this way: “Know that you are loved beyond your wildest imagination!”

I can choose to respond to any person and to any set of circumstances – even when I feel anxious – from a heart filled up with love and assurance.

– pumping gas…

This is, I believe, one of our primary responsibilities as people who carry the light of The Good News. Not to pretend that life is easy – because it is not; not to feel guilty about our anxiety – that won’t help anything; not to presume to tell others how they should feel – that is absurd; but to extend the light, the caring, the compassion, the kindness, and the encouragement of God’s love to everyone we encounter.

When people cross our paths, have they encountered a little of the Good News?

That is the measure of our faithfulness and our witness – DEREK

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