Written several days ago
Tonight my cell phone buzzed with a call from one of my closest friends who is a business manager. He needed to share something with me about an ongoing situation. Recently, he called and shared about learning that a key individual, someone he trusted very much, had betrayed that relationship. Today he learned more details about her behavior– things that hadn’t been revealed before – and he needed to tell me.
I’ve also had conversations with the individual involved and she is humiliated, embarrassed, hurting. She, too, has asked me to listen. I’ve been praying and hoping that somehow, God would make sense of this mess and everybody would be drawn closer to Him; to live out what Paul describes in Philippians 2:3, “ . . . in humility consider others better than yourselves.”
What I heard tonight caused my emotions to boil over in frustration because I wanted to force the Word of God into a situation instead of modeling it. I’m ashamed to admit what happened next.
When the phone call ended I vented my frustration out loud to my living room walls using angry words and exaggeration and a harsh tone of voice. And I got caught.
I failed to disconnect the call.
My dear brother heard every word. He called back to tell me how hurt he was and then hung up.
Filled with shame and regret, but still frustrated, I called him back and begged his forgiveness. I made excuses and capitalized on our friendship. He graciously forgave me even though I really don’t deserve it. (According to Phil 2:3, who is the better man?)
Some of our obvious reactions might be:
· Don’t say anything out loud that you wouldn’t say to the person’s face.
· Make sure the cell phone is off.
· What happens in Vegas never stays in Vegas but follows you home.
· Take advantage of friends who have made themselves available to listen when you need to vent. (I received just such an offer from a fellow pastor about three hours before this event.)
. . . and I’m sure we could think of others.
But that’s not what God was saying to me when I went to bed and it’s certainly not what drove me to my keyboard well after midnight to write this. (It’s 12:42 am right now.)
The lesson God drove home like a dagger in my gut is found in verses I’ve quoted to scores of people and used in my own life for 30 years:
Humble yourselves, therefore, under God’s mighty hand, that he may lift you up in due time. Cast all your anxiety on him because he cares for you.
Be self-controlled and alert. Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour. Resist him, standing firm in the faith, because you know that your brothers throughout the world are undergoing the same kind of sufferings.
And the God of all grace, who called you to his eternal glory in Christ, after you have suffered a little while, will himself restore you and make you strong, firm and steadfast. 1 Peter 5:6-10 (NIV)
Yes, there is a lot going on in my life right now:
· Lois is not getting better and probably won’t this side of Heaven.
· Pastors and churches are dealing with more disastrous conflict than at any other time since I started my job almost 43 months ago.
· We’re aware of many special people who have just found out they are facing life-threatening illness and disease.
· I’ve just completed the six most intense weeks I can ever remember.
· The projects on my “to-do list” are daunting.
Instead of taking out all the frustration and exhaustion on someone else, I need to be humble, self-controlled and alert. In my pride and self-sufficiency I think I can handle everything. I can’t. Deep down I know that I’ll just mess up and must turn to God and allow Him to work through the support group around me. I have to remember the evil one is always ready to pounce on my weakness therefore I must resist and stand firm in the power of the Holy Spirit.
God will lift me up in His time. God will pour out grace. (It’s not up to me!)
So, once again, I have to admit I blew it and renew my commitment with God to let Him be God.
Where are you? Have you been trying to regain control? Is God speaking to you about surrender, commitment, humility? Are you ready to let God be God in your life?
I’ve taken a risk sharing this and would really appreciate your responses. I won’t post any comments you mark confidential.