Make every effort to live in peace with all men and to be holy…
Mrs. Snow, a secondary character in the book, Pollyanna* (E. H. Porter, 1913), is a miserable woman who spends her time lying listlessly in a sickbed, planning her funeral. It seems she wants to die. And, dang, if she doesn’t want to take the world and every sweet, smiling face with her.
When young Pollyanna comes to visit, she brings a gift of calf’s foot jelly, a cheery smile and sunny disposition. Undaunted by the eerie gloom that thickens the air, Pollyanna makes reference to glad texts in scripture. She invites Mrs. Snow to play “the game” of finding something to be glad about. But, good golly me, it only incites the darkness that’s held Mrs. Snow in its grip. She can’t seem to see past the satin fabric she’s chosen to line her not-yet-occupied coffin.
These days, there has been mucho talk about walls. Building them, tearing them down. But for Pollyanna…and for me… scripture makes it clear:
You have heard that it was said, ‘Eye for eye, and tooth for tooth.’ But I tell you, Do not resist an evil person. If someone strikes you on the right cheek, turn to him the other also.
So I wonder… what kind of response would Mrs. Snow get if she chose to verbally or physically strike me or Pollyanna on the cheek?
There was a scene in the movie Hacksaw Ridge (true story of WWII army medic) where the hero, Desmond Doss, came to a breaking point in his anger and punched the concrete wall of his prison cell. His fiancé, Dorothy, was privileged to visit him briefly. Upon seeing his bruised knuckles, she gasped.
Returning a low laugh, Desmond explained that he’d had a fight with the wall and lost.
Nothing that other saints do or say can ever perturb the one who is built on God. O. Chambers.
The free gift of grace and forgiveness for my sin obligates- and frees- me to be kind and civil to others. In order for me to demonstrate the gospel and respond with the unfailing love of the Father, I’m to turn the other cheek, make it into an indestructible wall.
Building a wall isn’t meant to keep others out. That would only hold me captive and would confine me to a dreadfully dark place among sordid company. And if I built that wall out of wood, it could remind me of the cross where Jesus turned His cheek to both the righteous and the unrighteous.
For the sake of peace-making, I’m building my wall…though I fully expect to encounter some who would love to tear it down.
*Disney’s 1960 film adaptation of the novel starred Haley Mills who won an Oscar for her performance as Pollyanna https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pollyanna