I had some problems crop up this week that really challenged my desire to walk an authentic Christian life. I don’t want to be a Sunday Christian… I am always a Christian. Just, sometimes, I’m also a pathetically weak one.
Normally, when I am faced with problems that aren’t specifically coming from a person, I find it easy to trust the Lord and remain calm and optimistic. But when another person seems to intentionally cause me undue stress or hardships, that is so much harder for me to deal with. In situations like these, there is an actual perceived enemy to attack, and my natural inclination is to always annihilate anything or anyone I take as a threat. What can I say? I’m a warrior.
Since the parting of ways with my ex-husband, it is no secret that I have been struggling financially. Everything these days is expensive, but jobs are paying less than they once did. I feel strongly about Rebekkah earning her degree, and so barring anything miraculous, I am probably going to have this problem for another three years at least.
I’ve learned to trust the Lord with my very physical existence, be it food, water, shelter, and even clothes, and that of my daughter’s and the animal’s. Hey, we haven’t starved yet! But with large, unforeseen expenses, the stress is doubled because I rarely get large chunks of money at one time, and almost every dime we bring into the house goes to utilities, rent, or food. There simply is no extra to save for a rainy day. This rainy day was the fuel pump going out on my truck.
Without going into a lot of detail, I paid someone a considerable amount of money to fix this problem, and they didn’t, or couldn’t, as it were. Plus, they don’t feel they should have to give me any of it back because they at least tried to fix it. For two weeks, I had been told that it would be back to me the next day. And then each day, I would be told something had come up and it would be the next day again. Finally, I told them to just tow it to a mechanic in town, and for days again, I kept getting promises to do just that, only to have excuses why it wasn’t done, over and over again.
Now, if I want them to bring it back, they want another $50 for gas and the use of their trailer. What a freaking nightmare.The worse part is, I work with one of these people, and she got me in some trouble with my boss with what I feel was a very misleading story designed to cover her getting trouble at work. She used something I consider to be part of my personal life as an excuse for being late to work. It would be understandable if that were true, but it simply was not. Text messages and times of phone calls easily disproved I had anything to do with her tardiness. And her lie painted both Rebekkah and I as the trashiest kinds of people. We were both greatly offended.
By the time I was able to piece together what she had said and why, I was beyond furious at her, and the people who believed her, and my manager for not even asking what my take on this lie was. Now, the problem was addressed, the truth was discovered, and all is fine now at work. But let me tell you, it was not pleasant, and I found myself distancing myself from people who had acted in a typical, flawed-but-human way.
Now, this is absolutely not a tattle-tale post. I don’t know where these people are spiritually, and I do know they struggle with their own financial difficulties, just like Rebekkah and I do. This post is about me, and about how I am going to react.
I can’t even begin to describe how often I run into people who claim to be Christians, and yet act in no different manners than people who aren’t saved act. I’ve seen people pray over meetings, sitting next to women they were cheating on their wives with. I’ve seen Christians do evil on every spectrum, and sadly, I include myself in this. The flesh is always in constant struggle with God, and always will be until we are freed from it’s deathly taint.
I know it comes as no surprise that I have a temper. I had much better control of it when Chef and I were together, but for reasons I’m not entirely sure of, I have a shorter fuse than before. Maybe it is because life just seems so much heavier now that all the responsibility of it lies solely on my shoulders. Whatever the reason, 90% of my failings these days can be laid squarely at the feet of me losing my cool.
Up until this week, I couldn’t complain about my job or most of the people I worked with. But when all of this happened, I felt betrayed again, though on a much smaller scale than when Chef had done it. I wanted to use my sharp mouth to attack any perceived accuser. Fortunately, I didn’t. I can’t say I was sweating blood in the struggle to maintain, but it was close.
Throughout that whole miserable day, though, the Lord kept reminding me of Galatians 5, and how people who have Him working through them will show good fruit to any one watching. Here’s the verse.
16But I say, walk by the Spirit, and you will not carry out the desire of the flesh. 17For the flesh sets its desire against the Spirit, and the Spirit against the flesh; for these are in opposition to one another, so that you may not do the things that you please. 18But if you are led by the Spirit, you are not under the Law. 19Now the deeds of the flesh are evident, which are: immorality, impurity, sensuality, 20idolatry, sorcery, enmities, strife, jealousy, outbursts of anger, disputes, dissensions, factions, 21envying, drunkenness, carousing, and things like these, of which I forewarn you, just as I have forewarned you, that those who practice such things will not inherit the kingdom of God.
22But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, 23gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law. 24Now those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires.
25If we live by the Spirit, let us also walk by the Spirit. 26Let us not become boastful, challenging one another, envying one another. Galatians 5:16-26
I don’t want to be the kind of person who talks a good talk, then blows my witness spectacularly having a temper tantrum. I don’t want to cause division and derision between people. I don’t want to be a big, fat hypocrite. I want every minute of my life to showcase God’s mercy, and His kindness, and His grace. I want this with every fiber of my being, even though I will often fail despite my desire.
My lesson from all of this is this: the real tribulation we should all prepare for are the tribulations we face daily in our lives as we interact with others who are also hopelessly bound to their flesh, same as us. It is infinitely easier to believe that we will choose death over receiving the mark of the beast in some hazy future scenario than it is to forgive the little, short-term injustices we experience at the hands of others all the time. If you want to be trusted with the big things, you first have to prove you can be successful with the smaller ones.
I almost never get through a time of testing without some failure on my part to confess, but this time, I think I have to thank the Lord for being so present in all of this, and for showing me what all of this was about without also having to go behind me and clean up yet another mess I’d made with my big mouth. Thanks, Lord!
As the saying goes, if you aren’t moving forward, you’re moving backwards. As time goes by, all truly saved Christians are expected to show the fruit of having the Holy Spirit teaching them. These should be love for other people, joy in not only your triumphs, but joy in the good things that happen to other people. You should be finding peace in situations that once were so hard for you to deal with. You should be getting more patient, kind, and good. You should struggle more against sin, and your faith shouldn’t be flickering. Your actions towards others should be becoming gentler, and you most definitely should be gaining some control over your own actions.
I’ve got a long, long way to go before I can honestly say I’ve gotten the victory over my flesh. But after this whole experience, I can say that I’m humbled that the Lord continues to work in me, and on me, and through me. You honor me, Lord, with your love and your mercy. :-)