One of the things in life that can’t be given to you is respect. This is a quality that is achieved over a lifetime made up of a million tiny decisions. “Whoever walks in integrity walks securely.” (Proverbs 10:9 ) I believe each of us would like to be highly regarded.
I’ve always loved the phrase from scripture, “the high calling of the Lord Jesus Christ.” Everything about those words makes me unconsciously put my shoulders back and stand a little straighter. We have been given an example of how to live. To strive to be like Jesus in all I do and say is the goal of my entire life. There is nothing greater! Think of that, to love unconditionally, to give unselfishly, to care enough to share Jesus with others as I walk my pilgrim’s journey. This indeed is a high calling, yet, impossible to do without Jesus.
I’ve been watching Downton Abby this month. I started it a few years back but then just picked it up again with the last two seasons. I watch it as it was intended … 4 episodes at a time!! Now that I’ve gone to the dark side of Netflix binge watching, I’m sorry to say, I could never go back. I need resolve in my life — an ending … and it can’t be strung out over years. I have no more time for that. I’ve fallen for that one too many times in the past. And just before the big resolve at the end of the season, the show gets canceled (screaming; hands in head; No!!) I have fictional characters in me, lurking around in my head and hanging from a cliff, by a thread … on the brink of death … and I will never know if Susan meets her lost love, or if Jarod ever finds his real parents!
I absolutely love the way the British people speak. I find it quite fascinating. I can always tell in my writing when I’ve been listening to high English dialog, because I find myself using words like hither, indeed, dreadful, frightful, and oh my dear!
When we lived in the south of France our children attended an international school near our small town of Luynes, between Aix en Provence and Marseilles. Rachel was in 3rd grade and Lance was in 6th (read earlier blog from Rachel ). I must say this about France … it was exactly as I imagined it would be (at least the parts I visited). In Southern France they were charming and lovely. In Paris they were impatient. We lived in a house that looked out over the terracotta rooftops onto fields of lavender, as the shutters were open in the day and closed at night.
I loved listening to our kids’ British friends speak. One little friend of Rachel’s would come spend the night with us every now and then. Our entertainment was to ask her questions and listen to her delightful answers. One evening when she came over she walked into the kitchen to see what I was preparing for dinner. It was a very American chicken and rice casserole. I said “hello Georgie.” She said “I’m quite delighted you had me over this evening.” She looked at the pot on the stovetop as if she had something on her mind. I asked her what she was thinking about. She said, “I certainly don’t mean to be rude at-all, but I was so hoping you were making that lovely curry.” I laughed and said, “Oh you mean my chili?” “Repeat that last sentence and I will most likely make you anything your want!” She said, “That would be brilliant!” I told her we’d do it the next time she came over, since we were out of time now, as her mother told me she would “be around to collect her at half four.”
As I watch Downton Abby, and other movies from that country and time period, it is fun to watch … but I always end up feeling so sad for these people. Public opinion is what they lived and died by, quite literally, I’m afraid. They are so proper and ridged that they, many times, have to live a kind of false facade of a life. They are given respect based on their position in society, not on their character. They treat people the way their cast system determines. I, for one, am very grateful to be an American and have the freedom to be who I am and say what I determine is best. Often, I wish I hadn’t spoken … but there are other times I’m glad I did. It’s my choice as to what kind of person I want to be.
I’ve been brought up and guided by many wonderful people who poured cups of themselves into the pitcher of my life. After being stirred around for years, mixing all these varied flavors, I think I am a perfect blend of Sheri Riley Langley. There have been times it was necessary to get bumped, having some unsavory cups sloshed out to make room for a sweeter cup here and there, but the blend is select for me. The very best part is that of being a child of God — a joint heir of the Lord Jesus Christ. It is his job to do the work for me. I try as a rule to always put my best foot forward, but the pressure to behave in a way that pleases others is not my main concern, at all. My main concern is to reflect Jesus so others can clearly see Him without my getting in the way. Whew! Pressure off! So slosh me away, I’m praying it’s Jesus who gets all over you!
Daniel always comes to mind when I think of integrity and character. A life being above reproach … that was Daniel. Scripture says that “he distinguished himself among the administrators . . . because of his exceptional qualities” so much so that “they could find no corruption in him, because he was trustworthy and neither corrupt nor negligent” (Daniel 6:3-4). What a guy! I love Daniel and certainly highly regard this chap.
This weekend was the wedding of one of my favorite young ladies, to a wonderful young man. I’m so happy they found each other. I believe we should give honor to whom honor is due. Honor is most certainly due to this family. I am blessed to call Kevin and Cathy Ray our dear friends. Their beautiful daughter, Ashley, was a glowing bride today. She and Mike love Jesus and will serve Him well together. This family has loved and served Jesus faithfully for their lives. Ashley’s grandfather was a pastor at our church in years past — Bill and Charlene Ray. The kind of honor this family deserves is exactly what they would never ask for or seek. Ironically, this is why they deserve respect, honor and praise. They are humble, true, genuine, trustworthy and faithful. They are loved deeply by anyone who knows them. They faithfully pray for their pastor and his wife, and we are so grateful.
In our lives we cross paths with many, many people. Every now and then you run across a rare jewel. You immediately see the value in it so you stop and pick it up and put it in your pocket. It’s a keeper. It’s the real deal. It’s priceless. No, you can’t ask people for respect. It can’t be given, it is earned by a million tiny choices made everyday of your life.
So, this one’s for you, my friends — Kevin, Cathy, Ashley, Bill and Charlene Ray. You will receive your true crown in glory … but until then, may I say, you are some of the finest people I’ve ever known. Integrity, respect, humility, faithfulness, selfless and kind….You are indeed highly regarded, these words are my gift to you, and you are God’s gift to me. I love you.
I pray it is said of me when spoken of, “She is highly regarded.” My greater prayer is that people will say, “She reflects Jesus.” The greatest thing to hear will be one day when standing before Jesus, “Well done good and faithful servant.” What do others say to describe you? Seek to be the kind of person that people regard highly, but more importantly, do they see Jesus when they look at you?