|Volume 23 Number 7 July 2021
Even after six years, a trigger can unexpectedly and from almost any source ignite a teary twister of emotional emptiness within my very core. That ignition may result, for instance, from the lyrics of a song on the radio, an unanticipated scene in a movie, mail arriving addressed to my late wife Bonnie, fixing my gaze on her photos, going to some of the places and doing some of the things we had done, or simply reminiscing with others or just with myself about our lives and adventures.
The loss of my soulmate and the wife of my youth (Proverbs 5:18), though somehow more tolerable with the passing of time, nevertheless, remains an open wound of which I’m always at least nominally conscious. Bonnie was 16 years old and I was 19 years old when we wed. Evidently, I was the husband of her youth, too, and we grew up together.
We reared three children, with hardly an idea of what we were doing. Any successful attainments they may have accrued doubtlessly occurred despite our best efforts in parenting. My family and I traipsed across and crisscrossed several states over nearly half a century while I preached the Gospel of Christ. Later in life, Bonnie and I trekked through tropical environments in Asia and South America as missionaries – until and even after cancer afflicted my lifelong sweetheart.
Three days before embarking on yet another excursion abroad for up to two months, we got the results of Bonnie’s routine checkup. The cancer returned with a vengeance! Her health steadily declined over the next eight months.
Bonnie Sue Rushmore only registered two complaints – only two! At first, she could hardly bear me doing everything that needed to be done around the house and caring for her; she was always actively doing something – a lot of things and more than people often could imagine one person doing. Bonnie was my helper (Genesis 2:18) in everything – in the yard, on the roof or in church work. Secondly, when her untimely demise was undeniable, she uttered in a weak and quivering low voice, “But I’m not done yet.” Bonnie was writing class material and religious articles within days of her death. She didn’t quit until her body did!
The last day Bonnie was alert and before loosing consciousness, she thanked me. Bonnie said, “Thank you for saving me. If we had not married, I would have never heard the Gospel and obeyed it.” Though a time of anguish, we rejoiced in her salvation through our Lord Jesus Christ. Then and later, I shuddered to ponder whether I had truly led Bonnie to a home on high with God in Heaven or had I failed her in some way. The weight of the responsibility for another’s soul – particularly someone so dear and loved – is stifling.
Life goes on – until it doesn’t! Martha – Bonnie’s best friend – and I press on. “Not that I have already attained, or am already perfected; but I press on, that I may lay hold of that for which Christ Jesus has also laid hold of me. Brethren, I do not count myself to have apprehended; but one thing I do, forgetting those things which are behind and reaching forward to those things which are ahead, I press toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus” (Philippians 3:12-14 NKJV). Forasmuch as Bonnie was the wife of my youth, Martha is the wife of my old age. We continue my ministry and serve as missionaries abroad in Asia and South America.
Neither underestimate the scope your influence nor the weighty responsibility that comes with it. Bonnie said, “Thank you for saving me.”
And Be Ye Kind
Rodney Nulph, Associate Editor
“And be ye kind one to another…” (Ephesians 4:32a). Every command that God gives is always for our best interest! Sadly, sometimes humanity never realizes that the demands and the prohibitions that God outlines in His Word are given so that God’s crown creation – mankind – may live abundant lives both here and in eternity (John 10:10). We find ourselves in a mixed-up world with emotional, mental and psychological illnesses, which are sometimes more prevalent and more widely seen because God’s Word is not being honored and revered. God’s way is always the best way! God’s law of kindness is no exception. We are living in a world where kindness is not the norm, and sadly it is affecting our society in a seriously negative way. Consider with me the importance of God’s law of kindness.
Firstly, the demonstration of kindness. The Bible is inundated with actions of kindness. One of the early ones was shown by Pharoah’s daughter (Exodus 2:5-10). This young Egyptian lady knew the law her father implemented and enforced. “…Every son that is born ye shall cast into the river…” (Exodus 1:22). Kindness, spurred by compassion for baby Moses, caused this Egyptian to behave in an unusual way. Notice carefully, saving this child was not the norm; it was anything but the norm. In fact, the norm was to follow the law and slay every Hebrew male child. Kindness changed it all!
Even prior to this act of kindness is another almost unbelievable action on the part of Joseph (Genesis 37:12-36). After being abandoned, sold, betrayed and downright horribly mistreated by his very own flesh and blood, Joseph behaved in a kind manner many years later when the same brothers needed his help. Kindness does not repay or give back what others really deserve. Numerous other demonstrations of kindness could be cited: Boaz, Good Samaritan, Barnabas, Stephen and most obvious is the Lord Himself!
The data regarding kindness. Amazingly, non-biblical studies have been conducted and have shown that kindness does amazing things for individuals and communities alike. Experts say that teaching children to be kind actually helps and encourages success in their lives.
A study of more than 50,000 business professionals referenced in the Harvard Business Review found that likeability is one of the keys to effective leadership. The study showed that people who score low on a rating of “likeability” have only a 1-in-2,000 chance of being rated as effective leaders. This type of research suggests that kindness is not an add-on to be thought of once we’ve reached the top. Instead, it’s a fundamental component of getting there in the first place. (https://www.learningliftoff.com/how-teaching-kids-to-be-kind-can-affect-their-success)
Similar studies have shown that boys who are rated as “kind” by their kindergarten teachers are shown to make more money 30 years down the road. Middle school aged young people who are characterized as kind, helpful and compassionate also excel higher than others without the same character traits. Obviously, these studies only look at success upon this earth and speak nothing of the success that will follow in the afterlife for those who are kind and compassionate!
The Development of kindness. You may be thinking to yourself, yes all of the above may be true, but sometimes it is difficult to be kind, especially to those who are so unkind. This difficulty can be made less with some help from God’s Word. #1 Kindness begins in the mind. To be kind, we must think kind thoughts. Thoughts become action, so if my thoughts regarding another are not right, my actions will soon follow and not be right either. However, the opposite is true as well; if my thoughts are filled with kindness, my actions will follow and be kind as well (Philippians 4:8-9). Someone has suggested keeping a kindness journal, wherein you can list names of people and ways to express kindness to them.
#2 Kindness is the result of mutuality (empathy). Being empathetic and understanding others can go a long way in dealing kindly with them. Matthew 7:12 is the classic kindness text in this regard. How do I want others to treat me? That is exactly the way I should treat them, too!
#3 Kindness is generated by meekness. Kindness and gentleness go hand in hand. Look at Christ; the kindest man to have ever lived was also the meekest man to have ever lived (Matthew 11:28-30).
#4 Kindness comes with maturity. Peter listed kindness as one of the Christian graces that mature Christians develop in their walk with Jesus (2 Peter 1:5-8). Paul listed kindness as a fruit that is produced by those who are mature enough to walk in the spirit (Galatians 5:22-23).
Kindness to the Christian is like water to a fish; without it we die! Kindness should encapsulate our very beings (Colossians 3:12). Someone has well written, “A single act of kindness throws our roots in all directions, and the root springs up and makes new trees.” Another wrote, “Kindness is the language the deaf can hear and the blind can see.” Be ye kind!