Our pastor reminded us this morning about the critical need to rely on God instead of ourselves. That's really hard for independent, determined types like me. And, true, we can do a lot on our own, God has gifted us that way. Sometimes God just wants us to let him do it. I've been grateful for the times he set me back in a situation I simply couldn't deal with or couldn't solve and when I surrendered it, he solved it in a completely creative way that was total evidence of his intervention and answer to prayer. I want that surrender to become a part of my normal response but my flesh gets in the way often.
Pastor also talked about moving from fragmented to focused - and distilling our life purpose to 8 words or less. Why am I here? The Westminster Catechism says: "To glorify God and enjoy him forever." Pastor suggested "To love God and love people, passionately." Then we were to finish two sentences: "This week, I will love God by..... " and "This week, I will love people by ....." (fill in the blanks).
Love. It's the main thing. Without it nothing works. Not well. With it, glorifying God is a natural outflow. With it, caring about people comes more naturally.
For me, I think I need to ask myself those questions every hour on the hour. And answer them with things like: "I'll love people more by not yelling at my kid because he didn't get ready for church when I asked him to this morning so we were late." (true story) Sigh. I didn't start out yelling but the 13 year old resistence to admit wrongdoing and fondness for arguement exacerbated the situation and anger escalated. I wish I could say it was righteous indignation, but in that case one would have to be angry without sin. My apology to my son came during the middle of "Jesus Be the Center" during the worship singing. When Jesus is central, it highlights areas of my life that need to be cleaned.
As Elisabeth Elliot often says, "The discipline comes in the doing." If I wait for the day when I have control of my temper, it will never happen. I have to start controlling it today, this moment. And in the next hour when I'm riled again, I have to control it then and tomorrow, and so on. Anger is an emotion, a signal that something needs to change, that something is blocking my goals. I need to first ask, do I need to change? Do I have the right goals here?
May I learn to ask the right questions and live out the right answers.