It is amazing how a spirit of generosity and a spirit of peace will be attacked.
I went to Joyce Meyer’s Atlanta conference last weekend. I kept an envelope for each offering, planning to give as I could.
Then I show up to work on Monday, full-up on God. And it was a domino effect of crazy in my office. Each day someone went off about something. A different person with a different issue each time. And all I could do was scratch my head as I wondered “what the heck?” through each conversation.
And then it hit me. I had done something good for my spirit. I had allowed God’s Word into my eyes, my ears, and my head. I had soaked my spirit in His truth. I had worshiped Him. And I had purposed to be generous.
So boom! I put a giant target on myself. I brought myself to the attention of the one who hates worship, generosity, and truth. So his mission became to counteract everything God did in those 2 days. And he was going to use anything in my path to pull me away from God’s glory.
And that meant …
- A car repair for a sudden issue not covered by an expired extended warranty.
- A dispatcher who has gone into “that’s not our problem” mode.
- An office manager who replied with a harsh, drawn out, and sarcastic answer to a simple permit questions.
- An owner who wants to know all but then gets mad and criticizes when a potential problem is brought to his attention.
- An office staff who puts empty ice cube trays back in the freezer and never pulls a full / overfilled trash bag.
- A whole call center disappearing by 3pm on a Friday without warning, when the office is open until 6pm.
- An email server change, so the techs had difficulty sending email
All seemingly small and insignificant things. Until you shine the light of Jesus on them, so you can see the dark influences conspiring to bring us down.
Because the enemy doesn’t want anything good or true or meaningful to take root in us. He has an agenda and a purpose for us – and it is all about keeping us as far away from God’s goodness and grace as he can. He hates light and faith and hope, so he wants to steal them from us.
And he did a bang-up job with me this week. Every time I turned around, there was another attempt to steal God’s goodness from me. And sometimes the struggle to stay on point was lost. I succumbed to his temptation to walk a little less straight, talk a little less right, and think a little less true. I became the bad seeds Jesus talks about in Matthew 13.
Matthew 13:3-8 – 3 Then He spoke many things to them in parables, saying: “Behold, a sower went out to sow. 4 And as he sowed, some seed fell by the wayside; and the birds came and devoured them. 5 Some fell on stony places, where they did not have much earth; and they immediately sprang up because they had no depth of earth. 6 But when the sun was up they were scorched, and because they had no root they withered away. 7 And some fell among thorns, and the thorns sprang up and choked them. 8 But others fell on good ground and yielded a crop: some a hundredfold, some sixty, some thirty.
Notice there were 4 results from the same seed being sown. We have 4 possible responses to anything we experience – but only 1 of them is true and produces eternal echoes. And we decide what it will be. By our choices. By our responsiveness. By our attitudes. By whatever we are intentional about doing, chasing, and thinking.
Yet we tend to do exactly what I found myself doing – echoing the ways of the world.
We let confusion cloud our perspective.
We let fear delegate our direction.
We let popularity define our identity.
We let feelings draw and/or obstruct our path.
We let greed choke out our love.
We let circumstances hinder our hope.
We let trials impact our thoughts.
When we need to stop, reflect, and let God take complete control. We need to choose to let go and be still. No stones in our hearts or hands. No dry places in our understanding. No cares in our thoughts and words.
Just open hands and an open heart, so we become “the good ground” (23) in which God can always do a good work – in us and through us.
So if I want my life to be productive and effective, then I have to learn to stop my tongue and control my thoughts. And this is a battle I face every day.
I didn’t get it 100% right this past week. No, I didn’t bite back or allow an argument to brew. But I did do a lot of eye rolling. I did have many care-full thoughts that wanted to bend to condemnation. I did try to stand in judgment and compare behavior. I did have a stressful day at least one of those days worrying about what would happen next.
I see where I went the wrong direction.
I see where I didn’t lean toward God’s best.
I see where I let my feelings dominate me.
I see where the darkness stopped my progress.
Thank God He won’t give up on me! Thank God He allows me to learn from my mistakes and bad choices. Thank God He loves a work in progress.
So this masterpiece isn’t finished yet. One bad week won’t delegate my future or define my identity. It will, however, draw me closer into God’s grace, allow me to receive His direction, and show me the beauty of forgiveness.
So I will reflect on what I have done and how I could do better in the same circumstance. I will continue to work on being less like stressed out and fearful Israel standing on the bank of the Red Sea (Exodus 14:10-11).
That means I need to lean more into the wise advice of His Word:
- Stop and trust God is in control. Exodus 14:13-14 – 13 And Moses said to the people, “Do not be afraid. Stand still, and see the salvation of the Lord, which He will accomplish for you today. For the Egyptians whom you see today, you shall see again no more forever. 14 The Lord will fight for you, and you shall hold your peace.”
- Stop thinking so much about me and my ideas of right. Proverbs 3:5-6 – 5 Trust in the Lord with all your heart, And lean not on your own understanding; 6 In all your ways acknowledge Him, And He shall direct your paths.
- Stop being critical. Matthew 7:1-5 – “Judge not, that you be not judged. 2 For with what judgment you judge, you will be judged; and with the measure you use, it will be measured back to you. 3 And why do you look at the speck in your brother’s eye, but do not consider the plank in your own eye? 4 Or how can you say to your brother, ‘Let me remove the speck from your eye’; and look, a plank is in your own eye? 5 Hypocrite! First remove the plank from your own eye, and then you will see clearly to remove the speck from your brother’s eye.
- Remember how two wrongs can’t make a right and be quiet! Galatians 5:15 – But if you bite and devour one another, beware lest you be consumed by one another!
- Remember humility. Galatians 5:26 – Let us not become conceited, provoking one another, envying one another.
I didn’t get a lot of this right this past week. But this coming week is a blank canvas, waiting to be drawn upon. I will make choices that will add color and shading and shapes. So Father, help me to do better and be more loving. Because I know the enemy isn’t giving up on me. So help me be relentless for You while he is pressing me. In Jesus’ almighty name. AMEN!
Marie Fremin, 7/30/17