Previous Challenge Entry (Level 2 – Intermediate)
Topic: Happy (07/12/07)
TITLE: Keep the Green Bough.txt
By Judith Nembhard
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To be happy you have to be a realist, willing to accept the harsh jabs that life throws at you and still keep an even keel. A Chinese proverb says, “If you keep a green bough in your heart, the singing birds will come.” Pave the way for happiness with the green bough. If life brings you disappointments, which it will, or if it brings distracting and hurtful experiences, deal with them as part of the price we pay for being human. Don’t let them settle in the heart. “In the world you will have tribulation” our Lord warned, “but be of good cheer,” (text). Be happy because I have overcome and so can you. Don’t go laughing on the outside but crying on the inside. Keep the green bough on the inside.
Ron and Josette* came to the Bible study class every week with a cheerful spirit. Roy’s banter with the study group leader amused us, mad us laugh out loud sometimes. It made for a light moment in an hour-long study of grace and forgiveness and salvation by works. To illustrate a point, the group leader said that his daughter had called him the night before to ask him a disturbing question: “”Daddy, is suicide the unpardonable sin?” The class went quiet. He tried to relate the answer he gave his daughter. In the process Josette picked up her Bible and handbag and left. Shortly after, Ron followed her. The discussion continued. But toward the end, he returned but did not contribute to the rest of the discussion.
The study concluded; we stood and held hands in a circle as usual. The leader asked Ron to pray to dismiss us. “Please ask somebody else,” he said. This was the first time he ever declined to pray. He began to explain his reason for declining but broke down in tears. Big, strong Ron was crying like a helpless infant. We surrounded him. The story gushed out of him. Their daughter had committed suicide and it still hurt to even think of it. A young theology major prayed a fervent prayer for Roy and our group leader added concluded with a powerful petition for Ron and his family. The burden seemed to be lifted. Peace descended?
“Are you happy today?” “Yes! On the outside.” But the green bough with its singing birds may not be on the inside where the truly happy really live. To be happy, we have to look at the dark things that happen as part of the landscape of life. We look out the window of a heart that has the singing birds.
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