Let me tell you how my day began today…
First of all, I had not slept very well last night. I’m not sure why, but I just found myself twisting and turning, thinking about all kinds of dumb, unrelated things and never getting any restful sleep. Then when I began to think that the dog was going to let me sleep in a little, he suddenly gets up around 7:15 and begins to roll around on the floor and making his happy “Good Morning World!” noises that I was sure would wake up Piper and take away my opportunity to get some quiet time in the Word before I got her up.
So, I quickly threw back the covers, winced at a slightly sore lower back and fumbled for my slippers and a t-shirt. Then I motioned to the dog who diligently followed me into the dining room. At that point I figured that we could go out back real quick, get his business done and maybe get another half hour of sleep in! Well, that plan went up in smoke as the dog looked to have no intention of taking care of any physical needs. I walked him around the wet lawn, soaking my slippers and jogging pants and he just smelled and looked around.
You know… it would have been real easy to get angry at that point… and I nearly did. I stopped and almost came to tears right there in the quiet yard as I stared at the sunrise coming over my neighbor's trees in the distance and ALMOST said a few things that were rolling around in my mind. But I stopped short, relaxed my stressed shoulders and whispered: “Okay Lord, what is going on here today?”
I can’t say that I got an immediate answer, but it was enough to calm me down and we went back inside. I couldn’t get upset at the dog as he kept giving me this sweet “something wrong?” look, but I knew something or someone was trying to throw a wrench into my day. Well, we waited a few more minutes and went out again for I was hoping that I might still get a few more moments of sleep… but alas… that was not part of the plan as he still seemed distracted by the morning sound and smells percolating around the yard. So I stayed up, got dressed, tried and failed the outside adventure again and went into the study to spend some time with God!
Even though I hadn’t said any disparaging words, I was still a little riled at the morning’s out of sync events. You ever have a morning start that way? At times like that, I have recently found it easy to start thinking about all the other things that have upset me during the past six or seven years… and I get tempted to wallow in the memories of the rejection, the abandonment, the wrongful accusations and overall hurt that we went through. But that wasn’t part of God’s plan for me today… or any other day in the future!
When I continued on in my Bible study of Ephesians, I turned to chapter four and immediately read: “Be angry without sinning… Don’t give the devil any opportunity to work.” (Ephesians 4:26-27 God’s Word ©) Like Wow… Don’t beat around the bush Lord! The reality of that verse quickly got rid of the tiredness and self-pity I was being tempted with and rapidly accelerated me onto the highway of right thinking!
I spent the next forty five minutes studying those verses through the end of the chapter concerning my need to not give the Holy Spirit any reason to be upset with me. How bitterness can lead from wrath to anger and on to brawling (or clamor) and evil speaking (or blasphemy) and how it only ends up hurting me and not the offenders.
Well… I don’t have to be told twice about all this… How about you? The part that really settled it was my commentary’s comments that: “Bitterness in the heart causes one to treat the offenders the way that the devil treats them!”* Those folks are already facing some tough personal struggles and lessons and I surely don’t want to add to their pain! In our total dependence on Jesus for the complete turnaround of my wife’s health needs, I am finding that I want to be… AND NEED TO BE… just like Jesus. That means that I have to treat those who have cast stones at us like Jesus treated you and me… and walk in lovingkindness and grace-filled forgiveness and love.
So as my Mustang anniversary clock struck nine o’clock with the sweet roar of a 1993 SVT Cobra Mustang starting up and revving it’s engine, I took another swig of coffee, leaned back in my chair and smiled while I thanked the Lord for turning a confusing and sad beginning of the day into one of victory, encouragement, enlightenment and strength to be more like Him!
Then following a whim, I turned to my YouVersion app on my phone and as the screen opened up to their “Verse of the Day” I began to laugh and nod my head. You guessed it… It was from Ephesians 4:31-32 from The Message Bible and read:
“Make a clean break with all cutting, backbiting, profane talk.
Be gentle with one another, sensitive.
Forgive one another as quickly and thoroughly as God in Christ forgave you.”
Again… All I could say was: “WOW!” Lesson learned. Lesson applied. Isn’t God good! Have you ever had a morning like that?
I hope you’re having a great week, and in the midst of all the busyness of it, I’ll remind you to keep asking yourself… “Am I expecting to forgive and bless anyone today?”
*”Be Rich” A Commentary on the book of Ephesians by Warren W. Wiersbe, chapter 9