Saturday, December 7, 2013
MAY PEACE BE OUR BLESSING IN THIS SEASON
Today, I re-read Psalm 13, emphasizing his plea to know: How long? How long? How long? As I read, I began to realize that God had a message just for me in these words, for I am generally asking the same thing:
How long will it be before I STOP bursting forth with anger? How long will it be before I “get it” and stop enabling my anger? How long will it be before I stop interfering with your desire for me to be fruit and to be fruitful?
There was a time when I found that I was “changed” some and stopped TAKING OFFENSE at many things that had bothered me before; but now it seems that I have reacquired that habit.
In the past year or so, I have begun to blast off much more often again. I have concluded on more than one occasion that I had been building up a reservoir of “hurt” that then overflowed into anger. But, now that I am seeking God’s deep guidance about where I am and what I am doing, I find that “TAKING OFFENSE” at every little thing has again taken over my life. PRIDE hurts and pride is an ugly thing in God’s eyes. And it is only by pride that we take offense about personal pokes and prods from others; or even from completely impersonal ones and truly unintended slights that we make up in our heads.
At this season of celebration of Christ and of family, I am remembering the fear that was expressed by others about having families gather together. Thankfully, my memories of family holiday gatherings are pretty fun. There were things that disturbed me, but I wouldn’t have missed it for the world. When I was married, I made sure that we gathered with my crazy family as often as possible. Perhaps that is because, even though everyone got drunk, there was no arguing or serious tension. We played our favorite card game and kept an eye on the football games while people came and went throughout the day. No one cared who won the card game because no one was better at it than anyone else; it was fun; just fun. In the background of weekend drunken brawls, this was peace at its best.
But Thanksgiving and Christmas have been a challenge for me in the last few years as I miss the flow of people and easy fun we had; as I miss my Mom and Dad and brother and our traditions. This, in itself, can be a serious trigger for me; thus I am concerned about getting things under God’s control ASAP. Note: I guess this is a good opportunity for me to realize just how much I really do miss my family at this season because tears have come to my eyes even as I write this. I miss my family, period, and this season reminds me of that. Generally no one has a clue how much I miss them because this family I now celebrate with was not around to celebrate with us beyond their earliest years.
This year is a special challenge because of the spiritual struggling I am working through at this time. Apparently I have come to believe that I am worthy of taking offense when people are rude to me. That is a lie. Only God is worthy of taking such offense; for He is the only Holy presence in this life on earth. I have touched on this subject in the past: but it is easy to forget that taking offense is a choice not a necessity. And I have been making that choice again. Wow. Will I ever stop? “How long, O Lord….” How long?
As I seek to live the Fruit of the Spirit, I find that trying to see it in my own life is probably more of a stumbling block than it is a help; especially because, though we all are given this fruit at our second birth, we are not all given each and everyone of them as our strong-suit.
A lovely friend of mine is retiring from her job this month and she is my vision of Gentleness. I truly believe that I will never be that gentle; that is not who I am nor is it a picture of who I must become. That does not mean that I do not need to allow some gentleness to be seen in me. To me that means that I will never be as strong in gentleness as she is. And that makes me sad, because gentleness seems so much more wonderful than whatever I am.
Unfortunately I am bit of a bulldog – perhaps a pitbull – and I wrestle constantly with separating truth from lies, fact and fiction, helpful and not so helpful. Perhaps, as with the real pitbulls, it isn’t being one that is the deepest problem, but maybe it is how I am not letting God train me to be useful as one, rather than being a terror.
I once loved a pitbull and she was the epitome of gentleness – unless she knew your intent was evil. Even then she only growled; unless unleashed by command. She was properly trained to keep her fierceness under control. She is gone now, but I think I should use her for an example for my own life. She was a sweet, sweet dog, even though she had the ability to do great harm if told to do it or failed to follow her training.
Unfortunately, I also have the ability to do great harm, and I am the only one who ever told me to do it. That is why I must surrender my “offenses,” worries and troubled thoughts quickly to God so that I do not boil up a pot of stew that will run over the top, in time. I must seek the training that will keep me from this harmful way of living.
Today has been a beautiful day, watching snow fall and sharing thoughts in many different ways while listening for God to continue to show me how strong He can be for me. But I ended up not socializing at all, so there were no flare-up challenges. Many will come, day after day. My prayer is that I will listen for His reminders to not take offense… even if it is the Government, or ugly TV commercials, or rude people around me, I am under instruction: NO yelling and screaming; not even when I am all alone. The more I practice the easier it is to behave that way when I am not alone.
And, by the way, that does not mean that I do not notice the offense. It means that I discern it and give it to God to take care of. And He definitely will, even if not until the final judgment. It is not up to me to be offended. He will keep His promise to destroy sin and sinner and we will finally live in Peace. Come, Lord Jesus!
As we praise God for Jesus coming the first time, it may help to remember that He is coming again; and He is coming to keep every promise He has ever made. Hallelujah! Hallelujah! Hallelujah!