What would you do if…
I really wonder what readers think when they read my posts… I wonder if they’re thinking “does this guy ever have a peaceful day? There’s always something happening to him or his family… he has such bad luck!” Or perhaps people reading are concluding that I must have really done some terrible things in my life and God is really angry with me. Has anyone ever felt that way about their own life when things don’t seem to go right? Bad luck? Perhaps… God angry?? Disappointed at times, maybe, but He still loves us. So why do things seem to go wrong and how do we react to them when they do?
You know… it’s a funny thing about when we point the finger out at others to find the root cause of a problem. At some point, you have to stop and wonder… is it always someone else’s fault? Here’s a real humbling experience… try standing in front of the mirror and pointing out away from yourself… the mirrored image has you pointing back at yourself. Then try pointing at yourself in the mirror… the mirrored image still has you pointing at yourself… hmmmmm… perhaps there’s something to this… perhaps the real problem lies within ME! I’ve learned over time that more often than not, there’s some fault on both sides of a dispute… but I can only control my actions… I have the power to influence the outcome, and much of this power is deeply rooted in what and who I believe God to be. When a wrong is done to us, how will we respond? Matthew 5:39 advocates turning the other cheek when we are wronged… this is difficult, but not impossible. When we respond to wrongs with the same kind of vindictiveness, then we affirm to the world that Christianity is a lie. However, responding in quiet dignity and with prayer for our perpetrator, drawing on the power of Christ, we will hopefully invoke a response of respect and wonder, compelling others to want to learn more about Jesus… when we do respond with the gentle dignity of our Savior, we ultimately bring glory to Him.
Perhaps what appears to be “bad luck” isn’t about luck at all… perhaps it’s about opportunities. In my last blog post, I shared an experience I went through being away from my daughter relying solely on God with my most precious asset… my daughter. That after some serious reflection, it became more clear that God loved me enough to use a situation to show that He is ultimately in control, not me. Also, while my head says that I would seek God in all things, it’s not until I believe that in my heart that I am more likely to pursue Him in all things. Even though my encounter with God several weeks ago was significant, I suspect that God thought I could use a refresher…
A week ago yesterday my mother was involved in a car accident… a motorcyclist rear-ended her but thankfully, my mother was okay. Unfortunately, the worst part of this ordeal was when the motorcyclist got up and attempted to kick the car door in, pull the side view mirror off, and continuously punch the front windshield. My mother was terrified! Is this the kind of world we live in? That a 77-year old widow can be threatened with physical violence and she wasn’t even at fault? Apparently so… but needless to say, I was angry at a core level… after all, this was my Mom… I’d promised my Dad to protect her, and where was I when this was happening? Six hours away with no ability to get to her quickly, and this time, that feeling of anger wasn’t moving away. What hadn’t I learned that I needed another lesson to get it? Often times, God uses people to meet needs, accomplish worthwhile tasks, and open doors of opportunity that possibly only God and the person in need know about. After hearing my mother’s voice, I began to pray hard not only for her, but for the man who responded in violence. I prayed that whatever caused this hatred to brew inside be taken so peace could be experienced… that he would come to know God had His healing power!
One week after the incident, my family was contacted by the local police… the young man who had expressed frustration with violence had contacted the same police department asking for an escort to express his deep sorrow to my mother for what he had done just a week ago. He had shared that he felt led to do this act and couldn’t explain why… that it was a feeling he had never felt before. Was this what I was expecting from the prayer I offered? Not really… but in faith and trust, we pray… God answers — sometimes in unexpected ways. What will the final outcome be? I really have no idea… but we must remain committed and open to God’s outcome and not force our way because we think we know what’s best. I know… easier said than done, right? But, difficult does not mean impossible! Ezekiel 2:7 proclaims “…You must speak my words to them, whether they listen or fail to listen, for they are rebellious.” And Ezekiel 2:9-10 “Then I looked, and I saw a hand stretched out to me. In it was a scroll, which he unrolled before me. On both sides of it were written words of lament and mourning and woe.” We pray and God answers — sometimes in unexpected ways and sometimes not when we want the answer… God has His own timing that is usually not ours (Psalm 38:15; 1 Corinthians 4:5). I can’t wait until next week!!
Heavenly Father… show me how to make what is in my mind become my heart. In your word you share that three things will last forever – faith, hope, and love – and the greatest of these is love. Help me to not just know the words in my mind, but to practice them from my heart, just as Your Son practiced an ultimate love by sacrificing His life for us. Amen.
Greg Stefanelli (gstefanelli)