When I Think, “Everyone’s an Idiot”

FrustrationI’m one of those people who rehearse all the clever negative things I’m going to say the next time I see “that person” while driving down the road. “That person” is the co-worker, friend or family member who has angered you, the person you want to strike back at. Do you find there are days that seem as if everyone around you is an idiot? I know I do, and when I rehearse those zingers on my way into work I not only win every argument, but leave my foe in a huddled mess. I envision myself as a word warrior, emotionally rag-dolling my opponent like The Hulk did to Loki in the new Avengers movie. I win every argument…  in my head.

That’s the problem. My victory is in my head and the reason it’s so sweet is because I’ve transformed the person in my mind from a human being into an inter-dimensional villain working on behalf of Satan himself. That’s probably not an accurate portrayal of the person, but it gives me the justification I need to plan my attack. Now, before you start to think I’m a terrible person, I never (okay, almost never) unleash that kind of fury in real life, but I also don’t always forgive as readily as I should either.

The problem is that I’ve forgotten that the person who hurt me was operating with their own human emotions, and when I discount that I lose my ability to react with the forgiveness, compassion and mercy God wants me to respond with. In those moments when I’ve been hurt or attacked I become blinded by my own emotions and forget there may be a very good explanation behind what that person said or did. Perhaps they’re operating from a place of hurt themselves, perhaps they’re struggling and putting up a defense. Whatever their motive, attacking will always make the situation worse. Always. Don’t fall into the enemy’s trap when he whispers, “They deserve to hurt the way they hurt you.” Maybe they do, but as with all Satan’s lies, it’s based on a half truth. Maybe their behavior was wrong, but they’re accountable to God not to you. Who am I to say, “No worries about that justice thing, God. I’ll take care of this one.” When I consider how often God shows me mercy for being an idiot, I can’t build much of a soapbox to point out other people’s idiocy from.

By the grace of God and some wise counsel, here’s what I learned last week: if I stave off my attack, I’ll often learn what was truly behind the hurt someone caused me. I can’t imagine the damage that would have been done if I had attacked instead of waiting three days to listen. It doesn’t seem like as much fun, but if you really want to fight, consider listening as a weapon against our true foe. He hates that.

Wisdom is enshrined in an understanding heart;
wisdom is not found among fools. (Proverbs 14:33, NLT)

DON’T THINK: “Everyone’s an idiot. I will destroy them.”
THINK: “God shows me mercy when I’m an idiot, I think I’ll back off.”

Prayer: Father God, I get so annoyed by the people around me sometimes. I confess that my attitude is wrong, and I want to see the big picture. Help me to see the person who hurt me through your eyes and allow my reaction to be a witness to your grace for the Kingdom.  Amen.

Engage: What are the things that really get under your collar? How do you react?

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Please see the Condition of Use for this blog.
© Joshua J. Masters and Think This, Not That, 2012.

Photo Credit: Andrew Mccluskey

When I Think, “I’ll Never Get There…”

Waiting

Waiting

Waiting… oh how I hate thee. Have you ever been on an airplane and then had the airline delay takeoff? Agonizing. You’re not in any real danger, and though it may be cramped, it’s not as if your in solitary confinement or stocks. Yet it’s still agonizing because you have no control over the situation and you have to wait (often with no indication of how long you’ll have to wait—which is the worst part).

Sometimes it can feel like we’ll never get where God wants us to go. You’ll never get that new job, you’ll never start that ministry, you’ll never lose weight, you’ll never finish writing that book. The “you’ll never” is the lie we replay in our heads, and it’s actually the only thing stopping us from accomplishing whatever it is God wants us to accomplish. Yes, God sometimes makes us wait. Sometimes it’s because we have some growing to do before we can handle the success of whatever he has planned. Sometimes he has us wait because he’s got a better opportunity lined up than what we currently see. Whether the “you’ll never” is an indication that you have some growing to do or a lie from the Enemy because he’s terrified you’re so close to doing it, don’t waste your wait time. Just because God has you in a holding pattern doesn’t mean you can’t be productive, and it certainly doesn’t mean God doesn’t believe in what he’s called you to do. Don’t get trapped thinking “someone else could do it better,” or  “I’m not good enough” just because you’re waiting. Moses spent 40 years waiting to go get his people out of Egypt and then another 40 in the desert with them. Abraham waited until he was 100 years old before he got the son God promised him (I hate those examples because I always think, “Waiting a few years has been terrible, I hope God doesn’t make me wait that long”). Here’s one more to consider: Jesus had to wait 30 years before God allowed him to start his ministry. Don’t you think Jesus was ready before then? He was teaching at the age of 12, but God had him wait because God’s timing was more important than Jesus’ timing. Woah… Hold up. The Father made Jesus wait? Yes. In fact, the Father has Jesus waiting right now—he’s waiting to return and save his loved ones, he’s waiting to redeem Israel, but only the Father knows the day and time that will happen (Matthew 24:36).

Sometimes you waiting is more about God’s timing than your ability, but here’s something you can be sure of: if God has called you to do something, have something, or find something, it will most assuredly come to pass. I have a tendency to start projects and never finish them, but God’s not like that. If God’s put something on your heart it will happen:

In all my prayers for all of you, I always pray with joy because of your partnership in the gospel from the first day until now, being confident of this, that he who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus. (Philippians 1:4-6)

But don’t use waiting as an excuse to do nothing. Most waiting is designed as a period of preparation.  Be productive while you wait. Serve in the community, hone your skills, spend time with God, practice what God has put on your heart. These are the things that will reduce the wait time, and the next time you’re stuck on a plane with no hope of taking off, pull out your Bible and start reading. Kill two waits with one Bible (I’m thinking that phrase might not catch on).

DON’T THINK: “I’ll never get there.”
THINK: “God started this, and I can trust him to make it happen.”

Prayer: Father God, I’ll be honest, I hate waiting. I really do, but I understand that you know a lot better than I do what’s best for me. Please show me anything in my life that needs examining to prepare me for what you’ve called me to do. Show me what you want me to do while I’m waiting. I trust you and love you.  Amen.

Engage: What are you waiting for and what are you doing to make that wait time productive?

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Please see the Condition of Use for this blog.
© Joshua J. Masters and Think This, Not That, 2012.

Photo Credit: Suvodeb

When I Feel, “God Doesn’t Care…”

Tear Photo by Megyarsh

God keeps track of my sorrows
and captures my tears

 There are two versions of the “God doesn’t care” lie. The first is that God doesn’t care what I’m doing—this concept absolves the individual of their bad behavior based on the idea that God has bigger things to worry about than my “small” moral deficiencies. We can discuss that in a future post. The second version of this lie, and the one I’d like to focus on today, is the idea that God doesn’t care what I’m going through.

When adversities pull into your driveway, you’ll always find Satan sitting in the car.  He’s the ultimate backseat driver. He leans forward (close to your ear because he never wears a seat belt) and whispers, “If God really cared, he wouldn’t let you go through this. If God really cared, he’d pick you up so you wouldn’t have to drive this messy road by yourself.” But just like any backseat driver, he’s only trying to control you because he realizes he can’t drive the car, and unlike an annoying co-worker in your carpool, you can actually kick this backseat driver out. God does care, he absolutely sees and cares about what you’re going through. David wrote:

You keep track of all my sorrows.
You have collected all my tears in your bottle.
You have recorded each one in your book. (Psalm 56:8, NLT)

God is desperate for you to let him drive that car. Yes, the world is against us sometimes, but God is not. There are two important things to remember when you start believing God doesn’t care what we’re going through: first, and most importantly, God gave up his only son to save you. Why would he do that if he didn’t care about every aspect of your life? The second is that he chose to be a part of your life before you were born:

For he chose us in him before the creation of the world to be holy and blameless in his sight. In love he predestined us to be adopted as his sons through Jesus Christ, in accordance with his pleasure and will—to the praise of his glorious grace, which he has freely given us in the One he loves. (Ephesians 1:4-6, NIV84)

There’s nothing you could do—or not do, for that matter—that can keep God from caring about what you’re going through. Scripture tells us that a sparrow can not fall to the ground without God taking notice, and we certainly mean more to him than a sparrow (Matthew 10:29). We’ll definitely drive through storms in life, but we get to decide who’s in the car with us.

DON’T THINK: “God doesn’t care what I’m going through.”
THINK: “God not only cares, but he feels my suffering. He has given up his own son because he cares.”

Prayer: Father God, In the darkest moments of my life, I feel alone. Send the Holy Spirit to comfort me and help me to feel your presence. Direct my path so I don’t feel like I’m going through this alone.  Amen.

Engage: What other scriptures remind you that God cares what you’re going through? How has trusting God changed the way you face adversities?

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[Side Note: Thursday’s post will be on my least favorite subject: “Waiting.” I know some of you would like to read the post now, but you’ll have to wait.]

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Please see the Condition of Use for this blog.
© Joshua J. Masters and Think This, Not That, 2012.

Photo Credit: Megyarsh