Columnist: Having a different kind of spirit
A friend told me about a little boy named Jamie Scott. Jamie was trying out for a part in his school play. His mother knew that he didn’t have much of a chance of being chosen, though his heart was set on it.
On the day the parts were awarded, Jamie’s mother went to the school to pick him up. When Jamie saw his mother, he beamed with excitement and shouted, “I got a part in the play! I’ve been chosen to clap and cheer!”
Say what you will about little Jamie Scott, he had a different kind of spirit.
Without question, one of my favorite Old Testament characters is Caleb. The reason is that he cast a positive light on the situation. In complimenting Caleb, God said that Caleb had “a different spirit” (Numbers 14:24).
Here’s a quick view of Caleb’s situation. Under the direction of God, Moses sent 12 leaders of Israel to spy out the promised land. At the end of 40 days of spying, these spies returned to give their report. Ten of the 12 reported that capturing the promised land was a total impossibility – just couldn’t be done. But then Caleb, one of the two remaining spies, quieted the people and urged them to go up at once and occupy the land for they were well able to do it.
As the late Dr. Harry Emerson Fosdick observed, “It is not so much what life brings to us in her hand, as what we bring to life in our spirits that makes the difference between people.”
Now, let’s look at some of the attitudes or spirits that we bring to life, with the hope that all of us will have the Caleb spirit – that different kind of spirit.
First, there is the “can’t do” spirit! Too many people feel this way too much of the time.
A minister said he once asked his youngest daughter to name her favorite color. She thought and then said, “Daddy, my favorite color is red, blue, yellow, orange, green, black.” The minister stated that his daughter’s answer hit him like a ton of bricks. She hadn’t yet learned that she couldn’t have more than one favorite color.
So how do we go from an exciting full-color children’s world, to a dull, routine, colorless adult world? Where does this “can’t do” attitude come from? In a word, the answer is fear.
Here are some signs of the expressions of fear: “Come on, let’s be realistic.” “God can do a lot of wonderful things, but this is impossible.” “If only.” “I don’t believe.” “I can’t.”
As you know, fear is no new and modern discovery of contemporary psychology or psychiatry. Fear is a frequent theme in the teachings of Jesus. The first message that came to Mary and Joseph and the shepherds was, “Fear not.” And the last message that came from the empty tomb on resurrection morning was “Fear not.”
Second, there is the “critical of” spirit! A husband who was arguing with his wife said, “I have many faults, but being wrong is not one of them,”
Seriously, too many people in our time are possessed by a “critical of,” “complaining about” or “fault finding” spirit. It is literally eating away at their lives and our society.
Where does a “critical of” spirit come from? Basically, it comes from three undernourished areas of a person’s life – a sense of inferiority, a lack of love in the heart and a limited vision.
Turkey-raising experts say that if a turkey gets wounded or has a spot of blood on his feathers, the other turkeys will peck at that spot until they pick the wounded turkey to death. That is also what harsh critics do and that is why they cause so much pain.
Someone said that criticism should be dealt with in three different ways: It should be listened to, learned from and left behind.
Third, there is the “possibility willing” spirit! And this, of course, is the Caleb spirit – that different kind of spirit. This is the kind of spirit I pray that we all have or will have.
The truth is there are enough bad happenings in our nation to go around – divisiveness, violence, the breakdown of morality and respect, religious intolerance, the lack of justice, questionable leadership and an ever increasing public discontent – things that have and can have “fearful” and/or “critical of” spirits.
On the other hand, there is a medical clinic for the poor that has been and continues to develop in Columbus, Georgia. Basically, the clinic is for people who don’t have health insurance and can’t afford medical treatment.
The clinic is directed by a young Christian physician who has committed his life to assisting the poor and being their chief advocate. Undoubtedly, he could be making much more in terms of financial reward in a traditional medical practice. But here is is, with a capable staff and community support, providing all kinds of medical, spiritual and joyful assistance to those most in need.
To be sure, one of the greatest gifts we can give to our nation and world is a Caleb spirit – that different kind of spirit. It will make for a brighter today and tomorrow.