Thursday, August 16, 2012

The Storms

"When it rains, it pours...*sigh*
Those words slipped from my lips.  Then, I believe the Holy Spirit gave me a moment of clarity; and I was reminded of a video* I saw years ago:
There was a man covered in grime. 
He was filthy and holding a holey umbrella.

Enter: thunder and lightening...
Irritation, and even fear, appeared on his face when the storms came. 
He fought to stay dry under his umbrella. 
He did everything in his power to avoid the downpour; but as the rain continued (and his coping mechanisms failed) the water finally reached him.

The cold shock and stinging of the rain. 
The frightening thunder and lightening. 
They were disturbing his perceived comfort, but as the storm pelted his sludge-covered body...the purifying water cleansed him.

Too often we fight against the storms of life, but God is able to use them for our good - and His glory. We must rest in His promises. He is the calm in the midst if the storm.

“Do not fear, for I have redeemed you;
    I have summoned you by name; you are mine. 
When you pass through the waters, 
    I will be with you; 
and when you pass through the rivers,
    they will not sweep over you.
When you walk through the fire, 
    you will not be burned;
    the flames will not set you ablaze. 
For I am the Lord your God, 
    the Holy One of Israel, your Savior;"
Isaiah 43:1-3

*I've tried multiple times to find this video online so I could cite the makers of the video and give them props.

Tuesday, August 7, 2012

Should I eat Chick Fil A or crow?

People I respect stood in long lines to buy chicken and support Chick Fil A.
People I respect are currently boycotting Chick Fil A and calling them bigots.

I haven't shared much of an opinion in all of it.
I've probably even been a little self-righteous while "rising above" it all.
But then it happened...and I got taken down a few pegs.

Clay hurt my feelings on Saturday afternoon.
I felt that he stepped on my "rights".
I knew he was WRONG (I'm telling you, even God would think so)...and I told him so.
I made it clear  - through my body language, my tone, and my words - that He treated me unfairly.
After my little fit, I stormed away and went to take a shower.

God talks to me a lot in the shower. (Maybe it has something to do with being totally exposed, but I tend to listen better in there.)

As I angrily lathered my hair and grumbled about Clay, all the thoughts I've had toward BOTH sides of the Chick Fil A/Gay rights debate came FLOODING back to me.
All week I kept thinking, "People are much more likely to process a differing opinion (or actually change their mind) when spoken to with love, face-to-face (and perhaps while drinking a mocha). I definitely wouldn't change MY mind if I was busy defending myself because I felt attacked and people were calling me names."
Although I didn't call Clay names (out loud), I surely didn't give him a mocha and speak kind words out of a loving and humble spirit.

All week, I kept thinking, "The 'issues' are NEVER more important than the person with whom we are speaking. The person God made in His image. The person that needs to see God as much as we need to see God."
Except Clay (apparently). I decided that my issue was more important than respecting him in that moment. My feelings were more important than humbly showing Christ's love to Clay (even if he WAS wrong). *sigh*

I hate feeling this need to prove I'm right and get my way.
I don't even like my compulsion to prove that God is 'right'.
(Like He needs me to prove anything for Him.)

The Holy Spirit reveals truth to those who seek Him. (John 16:13-15)
I want to help others (even Clay) be inspired to seek Christ and hear God's voice for themselves. When God is the focus, He can change ALL parties involved...even me.

I need to let others have their own opinions - even if I think they are wrong or not biblical. 
God gave everyone the freedom to seek Him or deny Him.
I need to let them apply that freedom.

If I stop focusing on me and focus my eyes on God when I don't agree with someone, I might just reflect His joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness and self-control in such a powerful way that they would be drawn toward Him.
That sounds a lot better than being right.

The problem is, I'm spoiled.
In my marriage, I think I am supposed to be catered to heard because my husband loves me dearly. I assume I should have the freedom to whine (and maybe stomp my foot) if I don't get my way.
That's how it works, we tend to get a bit entitled when we have good things.
Since we have freedom, we expect freedom; but who says we "deserve" this freedom?
Who says that freedom REALLY matters?
Freedom to speak, freedom to marry whoever we want, freedom to believe whatever we want to believe...
This life isn't about our freedoms through the law; our freedom in Christ is much more important.

It is freeing to know that God can use ALL things for our good. (Romans 8:28)
It is freeing to know that God has plans to prosper us and not to harm us, plans to give us a hope and a future. (Jeremiah 29:11)

These promises provide peace...and freedom.
Sure, we can use our votes to express our beliefs, but we can't expect to legislate hearts.
If we lose the vote (regardless of the 'side' we are on), God can use it for His glory and others can be drawn to TRUE freedom.We need to focus on that and let God move through us instead of reacting to differing views out of fear.

So, I apologized to Clay.
I ate my crow and admitted that my response to him was disrespectful and that he matters more to me than being "right". We didn't really settle the issue, but there is respect and love in our home while we trust God to guide our next steps.
I got down off my self-righteous box and realized that I am no different than all my friends who have been so vocal in all their emotions and 'rightness'. I just hope this lesson sticks. I don't like the taste of crow.
And I hope that my lesson can help others evaluate their own actions.
Trust me, I'll share my crow with you if you need to eat some too.