BUMMER

When people are brought low and you say, ‘Lift them up!’ then he will save the downcast. Job 22:29

 

It was one of those days—just like Alexander’s “Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day.”* Everything that could have gone wrong did. All my morning plans had fallen apart. And then, in returning from the library with my grandson, we were caught in a horrendous traffic jam due to a break in the water main. We got out as quickly as we could—thirty minutes later—only to find ourselves in another jam with people escaping the first. While we waited, I got distracted and rolled into the utility truck ahead of me. (Oh, yes, we were fine and the driver and police officer were both lovely.) When all the reports were filed, and we finally got home, I discovered that I had missed an important appointment that I’d tried to schedule four months earlier. Yes, it was a “terrible, horrible, no good, very bad day.” And the biggest annoyance was me.
When I was finally alone that evening and reflecting on the overload of stresses, I was still reeling from an overdose of my own stupidity. But even so, God hadn’t lost his joy, his sovereignty wasn’t affected, his love hadn’t disappeared, his presence hadn’t vanished, his mercy hadn’t failed, and his power wasn’t reduced. In fact, his grace was much more prominent in my weakness, and his reassurance brought comfort even as I remained frustrated.
With thanksgiving I rejoiced that circumstances and my humanity hadn’t confounded God. He is the same yesterday and today and forever and knows completely the dust from which I’m made. He is never surprised at my snafus or silly mistakes. In fact, he reminds me that I live in a world where all creation cries out for redemption, and bumps and “terrible, horrible, no good, very bad day[s]” happen. I am to live gratefully through those times, too, knowing that “joy comes.” I am to be still…
God never has bad days.

 

Father, thank you for keeping us in days that are not our best and for staying with us as we recover from emotional roller coasters. Help us not to think too highly of ourselves and to lean more and more on you in total and absolute dependence. In Jesus’ name. AMEN.

*Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day by Judith Viorst is a children’s classic describing Alexander’s thoughts when his day goes amiss.

LEADERS

And a little child shall lead them.  Isaiah 11:6

 

 

Have you learned to be careful what you say around children?  Their hearing is remarkable, and their memory is even more astonishing.

I have two friends who are faithful ministers of the Word in another country.  They have taught their two boys by example to love the Lord and to be obedient to his teachings.   And now they have two little disciples who diligently live out the Gospel in their daily routines.

Matthew is seven years old and is enrolled with his brother in a local public school.  One day during the lesson, his teacher became frustrated with one of the students and finally said to him, “You are stupid.”  At this, Matthew stood and told the teacher that she had said a bad word when speaking to his friend and that she could no longer be his teacher.  I imagine the teacher, already distressed, was further upset when Matthew continued.  “You must apologize to this boy and ask his forgiveness for saying this bad word.”

When the teacher saw Matthew’s intensity, she asked the student to forgive her.  She said that he was right and then suggested to the class that this event not be repeated to anyone.  Of course, that was not to be with a group of second-graders.  Matthew went home and told his parents about the disturbance in his classroom, and the following day, my friends went to visit the teacher.  They explained that they were entrusting their sons to the teachers for the majority of the day and expected the teachers to be examples.  They knew the teacher had asked forgiveness, and they assured her that they, also, had forgiven her but reinforced the importance of her role modeling to all her students.

When I heard the story, and knowing Matthew and his brother as I do, I reflected on my own parenting, even my own personal witness.  How bold am I, how bold are my children and grandchildren in standing for truth?  Is truth so important that I confront error when I see it or do I tolerate unkindness or bad language or injustice rather than making a scene?  And how consistent is my life that my words reinforce what I live out every day?  Matthew was respectful when he stood up to denounce what he saw was hurtful and “bad,” but he was also willing to take the consequences for his public witness.

What can, what will I do when faced with abusive language and behavior?

 

 

Lord, make me and all my family such lovers of Jesus who is the Truth, that our lives reflect truth and that our mouths respectfully confront error.  In Jesus’ name.  AMEN.

BEING HUMAN

…those who live in accordance with the Spirit have their minds set on what the Spirit desires.  Romans 8:5  (NIV)

 

I was making some notes in my journal, reflecting on recent attitudes and trying to decide how to describe my struggle and annoyance.  Finally, I could think of nothing better to say than, “The flesh is so tiresome.”

Have you ever felt like that?  What Paul calls “the flesh” we often refer to as “being human.”  We use it to excuse almost every behavior that doesn’t measure up.  It seems that Paul had the same struggles when he writes in Romans 7 that what he wants to do, he doesn’t, and what he doesn’t want to do, he does.  He doesn’t leave us hanging, however.

Paul moves on into the glorious eighth chapter of Romans that grandly informs us of our freedom in Christ.  “…in all these things we are more than conquerors through him that loved us” (8:37).  The flesh is never going to cooperate with the Spirit, but through Christ we can ignore the flesh, discipline ourselves, and move with the Spirit.  Rather than expecting the flesh to change, let’s just deny it and keep walking.

 

Father, this Easter time is such a time of good news.  Those things that had bound us in the past can no longer be our lords because of Jesus’ victorious death on the cross.  THANK YOU for the crucifixion, death, and resurrection of Jesus Christ.  AMEN.