I read an article this week about our ability to change the “atmosphere” around us. I don’t know if you have ever visited a city or an area where the physical atmosphere is bad. Smog looks like fog but has nasty stuff floating around in it which makes it hard to see or breathe properly. I have a friend who lived in Beijing for a few years and she finally had to leave because the atmosphere was so bad and was affecting her health. Other industrialized cities around the world have a similar problem with atmosphere pollution.
If, on the other hand, you go to the mountains, the atmosphere in most cases seems crisp and refreshing. The views are amazing and generally speaking you feel better because of the experience.
I am reminded of Pig Pen in the Charlie Brown cartoons. He carried an “atmosphere” around him that Charles Schulz illustrated well with buzzing flies surrounding him. I think we all can identify coming into close proximity to someone who had on very dirty clothes or reeked of alcohol or body odor, etc. Not a pleasant atmosphere conducive to lingering in that place.
The same is true when you come into someone’s home that just cooked a mess of fish or greens or even onions. Strong smells that not only affect your sense of smell but sometimes create a desire to find some fresh air.
Have you ever walked into a room and felt a tangible atmosphere? Sometimes it feels like tension or strife. Other times it seems light and joyful. Our moods and conversations can affect the atmosphere around us. You have heard terms like “they sure came in with a chip on their shoulder” or “don’t be a wet blanket.”
The author of the article I read cites several examples of changing the atmosphere in your home or work place or even your neighborhood through the power of prayer. Sometimes, for no particular reason that you know of, there is tension and a potential for strife in a home or office. Sometimes there is an obvious reason — someone brought that atmosphere into the room with them. Bad atmospheres tend to spread and get worse (like a virus) unless something is done to change that atmosphere.
The author of the article noted that “we may feel powerless to change negative atmospheres and start thinking ‘that’s just the way things are.’ But that is simply not true.” She pointed out that Jesus rebuked a storm and it calmed immediately. Prayer and taking authority over a situation or an atmosphere should just be a natural response for us as believers but for most of us, including me, that is not necessarily the first thing I think about. If I am not alert to what is going on I can easily join in something that then could escalate beyond just an atmosphere to an actual unpleasant situation.
On the other hand, I want to be one who brings a positive, pleasant atmosphere into any situation I find myself. I try to do that at stores (especially while checking out) or when I am around people that are not necessarily joy carriers themselves.
Part of my regular daily preparation time is a quiet time of reflection where I can set the tone of my day. Being thankful, submitting myself to the Lord and yielding my agenda to Him, are all very helpful in setting my day in the right direction. If you live in a household with other people, taking authority over the atmosphere of your home is one way of keeping the “atmosphere of heaven” residing there. Be proactive. If a negative atmosphere shows up one day, begin to take your rightful authority and decree the truth and come against any negative stuff. Replace it with the peace of God.
For two years, most of us have had to wear masks that were supposed to help with the spread of a very contagious virus. The one thing that bothered me probably more than anything else was not being able to always discern whether a person was smiling or not. I love to go into a store and make eye contact with a total stranger and get them to smile or return a word of greeting.
I also found it difficult to understand some people who were wearing a mask who may have been soft-spoken or had an accent or mumbled. Overall it was not a pleasant experience for me and I am glad to see more and more people who are no longer wearing them all of the time. This is not about being for or against masks as much as my own personal preference for the above reasons.
Many, many people are going through very trying situations and sometimes we can be the Lord’s instrument of encouragement. I never want to downplay the seriousness of what someone may be going through but proper responses can certainly include bringing words or actions that reinforce the eternal perspective over a temporary negative situation.
For example, grieving the death of a loved one is proper and necessary but there are appropriate positive conversations that can help the person who is grieving to realize that if their loved one knew the Lord, they will see and be with them again. Loss of any kind should never be ignored or swept under the rug, but that does not mean that positive words and actions at that time are not appropriate. The Holy Spirit is called our Comforter and sometimes He uses us to be that for others.
Let us be known as atmosphere changers. When we come into a room or office or store, we may be carriers of peace, joy, hope and love. Someone wearing perfume or cologne definitely brings a certain scent into a room and most everyone notices it. Let us bring heaven into our atmosphere!