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Thursday, July 25, 2013

Action/Reaction


Mark 7:15

There are days and weeks when it seems you can speak your testimony of God’s salvation for you and your changed life. Then after all those days of speaking, action must occur. I thought I spoke and acted out my faith regularly. A week then arrives on your doorstep that has you giving an active testimony to God in your life, but it did not come because of positive occurrences that happened to you. There are times when we believers in Christ must get down in the muck of living in this world. Some weeks it is physically getting into the muck and some weeks it is mentally and temperamentally. I believe it is the latter kind of week that shows our mettle and it takes Christ’s strength within us that enables us to be a light shining for Christ. It is when we begin running with our great plans and are knocked back from them that our reactions show to whom we really belong.
Consider this week. I had plans to meet with two of the teachers who substituted for me; do the normal mom things during the week for my boys; be the normal wife and prepare dinners, wash clothes, clean the house; then work on the Sunday School lesson I am to teach this week, as well as do a few in depth Bible studies for myself. What came at me with force was a week whose agenda was thrown in the air and flung back into my face. First, the meeting with the teachers occurred but required one to three more interactions. My plan was for one meeting each. I ended up with five meetings. My plan was to get my boys from school and take them to hockey practices and matches. What occurred was my car breaking down… twice, going to buy a new battery, rushing back to get boys, after getting said battery, calling for back up a second time in the week when said car broke down again (thank you God for tow truck drivers with battery chargers), taking and picking up said car from mechanic, scheduling to meet with a person, then rescheduling, then going to their business (not there because his car broke down), instead going to the class venue, going back to the person’s business (still not there, other tire on his car went flat on the same day!), contacting students to meet, rescheduling on the day because they told me they couldn’t come after all, then, hearing our internet protection was not protecting and spending 4+ hours trying to get that taken care of. Do not get me wrong, I thank God for having a car, for having friends who will substitute for me in my absence, for having computers and internets; however, there are just days when they all fail, and on the same day, and your tension level increases exponentially. That has been my week.
Now, the point to be made in all this is that these are the weeks that not only try us, but they also prove to those who are watching that what we say we are and who we actually are is the same. These are the days and weeks in the trenches. How did I react? The first time, I let it roll off my back. The second time, it also rolled off my back. The third and fourth incidents also rolled off my back. By the time I had arrived at the fifth and sixth bends in the road and in my schedule, my anxiety was increasing and I was not as jovial. By the end of the sixth incident and my knight on a white stallion arrived, I was not the most even-tempered person. My nerves were wearing and my cool reserve was frayed. Fortunately, only one person, other than my loving family, seemed to be aware of what was going on, the tow truck driver. By the time he had arrived on the scene in his shining armor, I had reached the end of my tether and God provided a way out before I said anything I would regret later. I am not saying that my temper was not showing. I was probably a bit “short” with my family and my frustration and anger was probably visible to their x-ray vision (that is the vision that only a family has because they have seen you most of their lives), but before I actually said anything that would make me sorry, God had opened a door of reprieve.
Looking back on this week, even though I did not “blow my top” and speak harshly to anyone, it was not the best week nor the worst week I have had; yet, I feel guilty because of where my attitude was. You see, Christ not only came to save me from my sins that are visible but also from my sins that are only visible to Him and me. When Christ comes into a life, His Holy Spirit comes into the person so that Christ’s person is available with which a person may face and confront life. Instead of being irrational, with Christ’s Spirit in us, we become calm and forgiving. Instead of being jealous of someone’s promotion, Christ’s Spirit within us makes us joyful for the recognition the person received in the form of a promotion. Christ’s life within the life of the believer provides the correct way in which to respond to what we encounter in this world. Jesus told the disciples and the Jews that it is not what is on the outside of a man that makes him holy or unholy but what is on the inside (Mark 7:15). It is the attitudes from which actions come that determine the whether the action/reaction was sinful or good. We, as believers, have access to Christ’s attitudes and way of approaching life. We have a choice of how we will face each day, or, in my case, this week. We can choose to act in the way of our old nature, in a sinful manner, or we can act the way the Lord would and allows us to act through His indwelling Holy Spirit.
To say this week was easy would be a gross misrepresentation. To say it was the hardest week of my life would also be a gross misrepresentation. To say that it was a trying week, a week of setbacks, is more accurate for me. I have not grown to be completely like Christ; none of us will reach that point until we are in Christ’s presence in His kingdom. I still have some growing to do is more accurate. Did I react as well as I could? No. Do I recognize my inadequacies? Yes. Have I been able to go back, see where God’s hand was in the week, and count the times He has blessed me during the week? Upon reflection, I have reached that point. I hope that I do not have to go through another week like this week. I also hope I have more control over my attitudes in the future. Though no one saw them, Christ knew them. If I am going to live as Paul states in Philippians 1:21a, “to live is Christ”, I must allow Christ to not only affect whether I act out incorrectly, but I must let Him take control of my attitudes and impulses. Through it all, I must remember: 1) I am loved by God, 2) I am forgiven by God, and 3) God is growing me to be more like Christ. He has not given up on me. I must keep growing and being willing to grow.