I have found myself getting a little anxious at times when I look at the weekly weather forecast. One thing that is hard to change is my love for my hometown’s West Coast weather! The occasional snow and ice out here have been difficult for me to adjust to. When I see the small symbols for snow and ice on my weather apps, I tend to give an audible sigh! But I finally had the revelation after the last snow and ice storm that if God sent us here… which I firmly believe He did… then I should be excited about the idea of four distinct seasons and should look forward to the fun adventures ahead and EXPECT to enjoy them because – He will take care of us through any weather, hot and humid or snowy and cold… as well as with the lovely spring and fall seasons where it is more like our summers back home!
So, with that in mind, I have recently come to ACCEPT our weather patterns for what they are and have made the choice to rejoice and make the most of them. And you know… since I made that decision, I have found myself to be more at peace, more adventurous during the changes in the weather and actually enjoying it! Today’s forecast has the potential for snow and I am looking forward to frolicking in the white powder (if any actually sticks) with our dog who absolutely can’t get enough of the stuff!
And speaking of the need to ACCEPT things… that same thought came to mind as I continued to study from the beginning of Ephesians chapter four this morning. Verse two in my favorite God’s Word © translation says: “Be humble and gentle in every way. Be patient with each other and lovingly ACCEPT each other.” The word “ACCEPT” definitely caught my attention as it cast a different spin on how I understood that verse. Most other translations use words and phrases like “forbearing one another,” “putting up with,” or “enduring one another.”
I especially have enjoyed and employed the technique of “putting up with” those who have said and done things that are less than encouraging to my wife and I over the last few years. But the thought of “ACCEPTING” them kind of threw a wrench into my theology! When I first read that translation this morning my mind immediately enhanced the verse by adding to my theology buster... "Just as they are!”
That quickly brought me back to the realization that the ones I had been just “putting up with” were really just responding to us in the same way they usually had in the past. They have tended to be the “spoilers” for many of the major faith decisions we had made over the years… or you could say they played the role of the “devil’s advocate.” The big difference between then and now was the intricate role that my wife always played as the middleman (or woman in this case!) between them and our family.
She’s always had the ability to bring peace and understanding into most situations with a well-placed dash of joy and humor… at least she did for me! She could explain the others totally different point of view, which was partially based on their life’s experiences, personality types and faith EXPECTATIONS, in such a way that it helped me to see the “why’s” of their responses, take their ultimate concerns into consideration and in the meantime… help me to cool down!
This time around I (actually both parties…) did not have her available to play that pivotal role and I think that it caused both sides to over-react. As I looked back this morning with the thought of “ACCEPTING” them for who they are, I was able to see things in a different light. It has helped me to understand where they may have been coming from, and even though I still disagree with their reasoning, words and actions, I have a greater peace because underneath it all I realize that they believed they were actually trying to help me.
My serendipitous moment in the solitude of our new study earlier today, has given me the ability to better reach out to them and “Through the peace that ties us together, do MY best to maintain the unity that the Spirit gives,” as verse three encourages us. (God’s Word © personalized)
My job is not to try and change them, or constantly feel like I have to prove myself and my actions – like I have felt for most of my married life! My job is to walk in Christian love for as the Popular Commentary on the New Testament states concerning Ephesians 4:2, “without the Christian grace of love it (forbearance, putting up with, or simply ACCEPTING them) degenerates into indifference.”
So I am choosing to ACCEPT those whose opinions may differ from mine for who they are, with a mind toward their individual backgrounds, life experiences, Biblical understandings, where they live and/or their world view of things. My understanding is that Godly love always EXPECTS the best in others, so I am choosing to look for the good intended or behind their words and/or actions.
And I also realize and keep foremost in my vision that I am confident in my relationship and communion with Papa God and will never allow another person’s disagreement to steal, shake or upend my EXPECTATIONS, for my faith assures me of the things that I am EXPECTING and it convinces me of the things I am believing for that I cannot yet see!” (See Hebrews 11:1 in the God’s Word © translation.)
Well, the weekend is upon us! My EXPECTATIONS are that you and I are going to have a great weekend… and as you do, keep asking yourself… “Who am I going to ACCEPT… for who they are… today?”