This week I was gently rebuked. Can I tell you that never, ever feels good. I like positive vibes and good news only just like the rest of the world. But I know that is not actually a real and good way to live. Because what kind of world are we constructing if it’s only made to handle sunshine? Paper thin and weak, I think.
And what kind of shallow, hollow friends are we accumulating if they will only ever tell us good news? Because we know that life is not all good vibes. And I don’t know about you, but my actions and decisions are not always right and good either.
Isn’t it a real friend who will tell you the stuff you may have become blind to in your life?
And by “stuff” I mean sin.
“The wounds from a friend can be trusted, but an enemy multiplies kisses.”
When I am faced with my own wrongs, my first response is fight or flight. As I received this loving call-out, I felt my hackles rise even though it was a gentle and loving rebuke. Oh no, here it is again. My sin. What do I do about it? Do I fight? Or do I run? Defensive in my mind, I started to inwardly make my case as to why x and why z.
I could feel my heart start to race and a pit gather in my stomach. Ugh! I went down this mental road for about 30 minutes. And then cutting through the anxiety that was rising, I had a thought to turn to God rather than run away from God.
By God’s pure grace, I remembered to pray an honest prayer:
Lord, here is my sin again. It is my sin. And I am a sinner who needs a Savior. I want to fix things in my own ways, but I am not very good at that. Help me turn to Jesus and not away because I need your strength and wisdom as I process this challenge. And please help me consider my ways before you and obey.
Shortly thereafter my anxiety began to leave. Something happened in the acknowledgement of my sin and my need. I am in need. I cannot save me from myself. But here’s the golden ticket…I know the One who can. And I have access to him and his power. Praise God.
This phrase came up in our Bible Study this week as we studied Haggai 1: consider your ways. What does it mean for me to consider my ways?
It means I first need to slow down my initial reactions. I need to stop my flight and fight responses. Rather than run or become argumentative, I need to turn toward God, asking for grace to obey, being quick to listen and slow to speak. And I need to obey, meaning I may need to change course, cancel plans I laid, or stop or begin doing something. It requires that I change.
When I consider MY ways, what are they?
Initially when told I’m wrong, my ways are rebellion. defensiveness, and self-preservation.
But sometimes I AM wrong.
Don’t I want to walk in the truth?
Don’t I want to adhere to God’s word and his ways?
And as I consider my own ways, do I consider GOD’s ways? He is holy and good. Where am I straying from his word and not even following it? Can’t I be thankful when someone has the courage to tell me this? Can’t I turn toward the rebuke and face it rather than run from it?
If we have been born again in Jesus, God calls us through many means and ways to follow Him and to keep following for a lifetime. This is called sanctification. Whatever trial comes, whatever pruning, God knows how to make the most of it for those who belong to him.
Sometimes we need a little nudge. Sometimes we need hard-core pruning. Sometimes we need to fail. Sometimes we experience loss at no doing of our own. Though not all trials and suffering stem from sin, whatever the circumstances of our need, rather than turning from him, may we turn toward him because he is the one who is able to help us in our lack. And true change can take place by His power and strength. Amen.