Clearing the Smoke

December 17, 2021


My uncle smoked everything. He puffed on cigars, pipes and cigarettes. He also puffed on staircases.

In the year 2000, a federal law banned smoking on all flights. Before that, airplanes were divided into smoking and non-smoking sections. Regardless of where you sat, you inhaled about six packs a flight. Nowadays, you smoke on an airplane and they push you onto the wing where you’ll be gone with the wind.

Back in those good old days, a stewardess told a passenger he needed permission from the person beside him before he lit up. She asked his seatmate, “Do you object to his smoking?” “Yes,” she said loudly. “I detest cigars.” So the stewardess had the man move. As the smoker went forward to his new seat, the cigar-detesting woman turned to the stewardess and said, “I’ve been married to that guy for thirty years and I still can’t stand those stinkin’ cigars!”

Have you ever buckled up beside a pit bull like that? I hope it wasn’t at church. Chuck Colson told of a pastor and deacon who got into a fist fight at church. The deacon knocked the pastor out cold right by the altar. Soon the elders and pastor were on opposite sides of a court room. Presiding over the case was a Jewish man to whom many of them had been witnessing. On the back of each of the deacon’s cars was a bumper sticker, “God is with us at Emmanuel Baptist.” Well, Jesus didn’t say the world would know we are his disciples by our bumper stickers, but by our love. The Apostle Paul instructed the Colossian church, “Let your conversation be always full of grace.”

Here are three practical things that can bring peace to your world today.

1. Pray for those who have hurt you. It’s hard. I know. Sometimes those prayers begin with, “God, help him choke on a perogy.” But with God’s help, those prayers will soften in time.

2. Overflow with gratitude. Send a note, text or email to someone today that starts with, “Thank you for— ”.

3. Live the words of Jesus. When we do to others what we’d have them do to us, our conversations, our emails, our social media interactions are seasoned with grace.

Remember, everyone we meet today is made in God’s image. Even the guy standing 60 feet from the building, sucking a cigar. Yes, even if he’s your husband.

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