I’m talking about something much more powerful than a New Year’s Resolution. I’m talking about the kind of resolve that doesn’t fade away after the middle of January. I don’t have any.
In my own power and on my own steam, I can’t accomplish anything worthwhile for very long. The power of Christ in a human life is an awesome force and it occurs to me that all those failed New Year’s resolutions have more to do with not having Him in the planning and implementation, than not having a good resolution. And, while there will inevitably be “human failure”, to highly resolve means that I don’t have to count on my own power to “make it right” and start again. “5 Trust in the Lord with all your heart, And lean not on your own understanding; 6 In all your ways acknowledge Him, And He shall direct your paths. 7 Do not be wise in your own eyes; Fear the Lord and depart from evil. 8 It will be health to your flesh, And strength to your bones.” — Proverbs 3:5-8
Now, to what I resolve, through the grace of God and no power of my own. I resolve to see the person, before I see the perceived offense — to consider what their circumstance might be, before I let them know how I perceive that they have messed up. Lord, when I get chicken nuggets instead of a cheeseburger, give me the calm spirit and words to correct the situation, not belittle the person. When the order that was supposed to arrive by Christmas, guaranteed, shows up on January 4th instead, remind me that the gift is still special and realistically, no one was harmed by the wait. When my order is slow getting to the table, or not exactly as I have ordered it, Lord, I pray that you will cause me to pause for one moment and become acutely aware of the “mere human” before me. Help me to remember the mercy and grace I hope to receive when I have been “only human”.
I have recently been made aware that it is impossible to know the circumstance that may have led to the minor infraction of another person — the one I have chosen to become so annoyed at and about. There are a myriad of examples. Our recent blizzards and snowstorms have rendered many people housebound and their positions at work unfilled. The duties of a six-person office have often been juggled by three or four people. Most people won’t see or ever know about the hardship of those dedicated workers, but will focus instead on the inconvenience of the extra time their appointment is taking.
Would you be as upset about a mishandled restaurant order if you knew that your waiter had suffered the loss of a child, recently; or the only car he depended on to get to work and support his family had been totaled in a collision that morning? How can you know what might be pressing so hard on his heart, that even though he is trying his best, he can’t focus on your order? And if we did know, wouldn’t you or I respond with compassion and patience? Unless we are actually foolish enough to believe that a waiter/ service technician/ office manager/ spouse/ child, etc., set out to intentionally target us for irritation, we will move into 2010 with new eyes. Like the song, Lord, “Give me your eyes for just one second. Give me your eyes so I can see, Everything that I keep missing. Give me your love for humanity. Give me your arms for the broken-hearted, Ones that are far beyond my reach. Give me your heart for the ones forgotten. Give me your eyes so I can see.”
There are multitudes of people who will be willing to berate, belittle, and humiliate those around them. As Christians, it is critically important that we allow Christ to lead us to do the opposite of what our human nature beckons us to. More important even than the positive effect we may have on someone who is hurting, is the picture we paint of the One we represent. Many in this world will only know Christ and Christians by the way we portray them with our words and actions. Has the world been seeing Christ, lately, when they are seeing you and me? Lord, please lead me to let my words and actions shine a light on You and Your love and Your mercy. Let them represent the truth about You and You living in me. Please give me a soft and compassionate heart. Let me pause long enough to see a person, someone You created and love, with circumstances I can’t begin to understand. When I am in a hurry or in a tizzy, wanting my “pound of flesh”, please stop me in my tracks and extend your mercy and grace to the person I am so tempted not to see.
“1 A soft answer turns away wrath, But a harsh word stirs up anger. 2 The tongue of the wise uses knowledge rightly, But the mouth of fools pours forth foolishness. 3 The eyes of the Lord are in every place, Keeping watch on the evil and the good. 4 A wholesome tongue is a tree of life, But perverseness in it breaks the spirit.” — Proverbs 15:1-4
“23 The heart of the wise teaches his mouth, And adds learning to his lips. 24 Pleasant words are like a honeycomb, Sweetness to the soul and health to the bones.” — Proverbs 16:23 & 24
Lord, make my words like honeycomb. Let them heal the soul and bring health to the bones. Please put a soft answer in my heart and on my tongue, so those I meet will see You and Your love when they hear me speak. In Jesus’ Holy name, Amen.