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Friday, December 18, 2009

Stunted Growth

Have you ever been in a place in your walk where you know you should have chosen one thing, but instead, your flesh won out and you made the wrong choice?  Kind of like "Let's Make a Deal" --- you should have chosen "Door #1", but you went with "Door #3" and instead of the Maserati sports car, you got a year's supply of chicken feed?  Yeah. 

Right now I have a situation in my life where someone is directly attacking me and my family.  Their behavior is unprovoked (for the most part, unless I stop breathing, I can't stop the attack) - I WISH I had done something awesomely awful to deserve this person's hatred and wrath.  I wish I had yelled at the top of my lungs and told them exactly what I thought/think of them and their ridiculous behavior.  I wish I had sprung off a witty one liner that put them completely in their place.  Then, at least I would know, oh, he/she is acting this way because I did "xyz" to them last year.  I did/and will not do any of those things.  But - OH - how my flesh wants me to!

Earlier this week in Oswald Chambers (December 14th, if you are playing along at home), he spoke about the "great life."  He wrote that any problem that comes between us and God is the result of disobedience on our part.  That's really heavy.  I look at the situation that I am in right now and how I have, at times, totally allowed it to steal my peace.  How I have thought of witty comebacks and how right I am in the situation and how everything being done is wrong and unfair.  But, as I'm sitting there dwelling on that person and dwelling on the problem - that problem is preventing me from unity with my Lord and in some aspects, it is stunting my growth as a Christian.  Is it worth it?

I was driving with the kids in the car today and I was looking up at the sky, driving and praying about the situation at hand.  I looked up and I saw all these trees by the power lines that were completely shaved off on one side.  They were these tall, amazing, beautiful, alive trees - but they were completely stunted and misshapen on one side (or the top) because they were growing next to a power line.

I looked at those trees and I looked at my own heart and I realized that by focusing on the problem in my life, by letting that problem be a self-imposed boundary in my life, that I was no better than those trees.  When they first started growing, someone should have had enough sense to dig them up, to move them away from the power lines, to put them in fertile soil.  Instead, they were allowed to grow and now they are ugly, misshapen, and pathetic to look at.  But, how am I any better?  How am I any different?

Looking at the trees, I remembered what I had read in Oswald Chambers this week.  He goes on to say in the same devotional that:  "Any problem that comes while I obey God (and there will be many), increases my overjoyed delight, because I know that my Father knows and cares, and I can watch and anticipate how He will unravel any problems."  Wow. 

When I used to live in rural Alabama, I remember driving by someone's house and they literally had a huge banner hanging off of their front deck that said "Alabama Power Killed My Trees!!" (or something like that) or something like this:

At the time, I thought, "Man, that's pretty whackadoodle, get over yourself, they're TREES."  But, now, I wonder about my own walk in life.  I wonder what would have happened if I looked a problem dead in the eyes and said "You're not gonna kill my tree!"  What if I had gotten that angry about what was being robbed and stolen from me?  About the peace inside of my heart that I was voluntarily relinquishing - for what? 

No matter what, if I act out in my flesh in this situation and try to solve it myself or take matters into my own hands and let my mouth say what it really wants to say in retaliation, I am a misshapen and stunted tree, trying to grow up to the heavens, but pathetic to everyone who looks at me.  Instead, I need and want to turn this situation over to God.  I want to be happy that I have an overwhelming problem because He will do great things to unravel it and resolve it. 

Lord, please give me that faith and that trust in You today.  Amen.

New American Standard Bible (©1995)

Exodus 14:13
But Moses said to the people, "Do not fear! Stand by and see the salvation of the LORD which He will accomplish for you today; for the Egyptians whom you have seen today, you will never see them again forever.
New Living Translation (©2007)

2 Chronicles 20:15
He said, "Listen, all you people of Judah and Jerusalem! Listen, King Jehoshaphat! This is what the LORD says: Do not be afraid! Don't be discouraged by this mighty army, for the battle is not yours, but God's.
New Living Translation (©2007)

2 Chronicles 20:17
But you will not even need to fight. Take your positions; then stand still and watch the LORD's victory. He is with you, O people of Judah and Jerusalem. Do not be afraid or discouraged. Go out against them tomorrow, for the LORD is with you!"

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