I heard the noise. What was supposed to be a mower attacking blades of grass had a distinctly different sound.
Shortly after, the door opened and in walked our youngest son, Caleb. New to mowing, he was sprouting his summertime, blade-cutting wings.
“Ummm, Mom?” he sheepishly asked.
“Yes?” I answered.
“You might want to come look at this,” he responsed.
Realizing something was off the mower’s normal-beaten path, I listened as he explained how he hit the new guttering. The expensive project was installed only weeks before.
“Part of it flew off into the yard, Mom.”
Keep calm, Kristi. Remember, your words will cut or give life. It’s only guttering. He’s more important.
An elbow lay, beaten and slightly torn, ten feet from the point of impact. The screws were ripped clean out of the long downspout, but a quick pop and they were back in place…somewhat. The curved piece stood as tall as possible considering its roughed-up, trying-to-be-toughened-up condition from the mower’s unexpected attack. Regardless, the downspout elbow was salvaged.
Darling son continued to mow, and our relationship was good.
That wasn’t always the case. I have a tongue that can cut through a little kid’s skin, straight to the depths of a tender heart. Adults too.
Maybe you understand? Have you ever had trouble with your words, winding up and tossing out the wrong ones, speaking and whizzing them at another with the speed of a fast pitch baseball? It’s easy to react, isn’t it?
It’s harder to walk through in peace, to stand tall in God’s calm. But that’s where righteousness reigns. (And the outcome is better, too!)
So how do we respond with calm, with Jesus at the helm of our peace, when situations whirl? Here are three areas to consider:
And you must love the Lord your God with all your heart, all your soul, all your mind, and all your strength.’ The second is equally important: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ No other commandment is greater than these.” Mark 12:30-31 NLT
Remember “they” are our neighbor. They’re important.
Amid the guttering situation I found an internal cheerleader reminding me to treat Caleb the way I would want to be treated. Believe me, my flesh argued.
Whether it’s a child, spouse, friend, or foe, our “co-star” in the situation has been made by the same Creator that formed and fashioned us. Our Lord calls us to love them as ourself. Being bathed with anger, poked with sharp responses, or slathered with chilly silence doesn’t speak love. Remembering this before we respond is key.
Battle well, my friend. God has your back.
2. Falling Short
for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, Romans 3:23 NIV
Boy, I can certainly make a mess in life, falling short of the glory of God. Goodness knows I’ve had my share, and often a battle of the blow-up type led the way. Those pesky, short-tempered words…
We all hiccup, sin, and make poor choices from time to time, but then Jesus comes along with grace. Good ‘ol, life-saving grace, where would we be without it? Where would we be without Jesus?
His grace is beautifully sufficient for us, amid our insufficiency. It is sufficient for “them” too. It’s much easier to freely give space and grace when we recall we’re all members of the “falling short/God of grace” club.
The bended knee of humility will take you far. He’s faithful.
3. The Choice
But if serving the Lord seems undesirable to you, then choose for yourselves this day whom you will serve, whether the gods your ancestors served beyond the Euphrates, or the gods of the Amorites, in whose land you are living. But as for me and my household, we will serve the Lord.” Joshua 24:15 NIV
It boils down to a choice. Yes, each “guttering” response offers opportunity, a choice to serve the Lord God Almighty. We may not like what’s been thrown at us, and it may not even be fair, but it’s there. The choice on how to proceed, with emotions or with faith, is yours. Whom will you serve?
Proceed well, my friend. God awaits, and it’s good.
Today is release day for Chicken Soup for the Soul: Dreams and Premonitions. It’s loaded with entertaining and encouraging stories. If you peek at page 333, you’ll see my story Tested, Not Arrested. (Can you tell I’m excited?! Thank You, Lord.) It’s available to buy here.