So, yesterday, I shared the first part of the things I learned in the backyard: Gardenias in the Garbage. When sin takes over and obliterates the things that make have made is beautiful or we have enjoyed in the past, God can help restore and “do a new work” in us.
Today, is the second part of what I learned. As I shared yesterday, this is what I observed:
As Kip and I furiously cut branches and trees out of the yard, the children were dragging them to the road. Well, my oldest couldn’t get the gate open, so he took a shortcut and tossed the big trees over the fence. He plays football and so, he’s strong enough.
Well, my daughter and seven year old son came along and they couldn’t get it over the fence, so they threw it on top of the fence, beside the fence, between the barbs of the fence. The branches didn’t make it to the weed pile for the city to remove and in fact, made a big tangled mess at least 20 feet wide!
This went on for a good hour before Kip and I found out! Then, whew, was I upset! Kip needed me to help pull these nasty trees out of the brush and I had to go figure out what on earth to do with the mess at the road. It was harder to undo the second mess of branches that were not disposed of properly than the work I was doing with Kip.
The kids were fuming, I was fuming, we were all upset. After 30 minutes and a lot of very hard work, we cleared the path, made sure it wasn’t in the road, and got the branches in order. We also pried open the gate and made a path so that the future branches would be disposed of properly.
It is about taking care of a mess the right way the first time. For example, right now I have some people that I need to forgive. In fact, I’m down right angry and have let myself teeter on the verge of bitterness at work.
Now, if I’m a Christian and they are not – is there any reason for them to be kind to me? And if I’m ugly right back, how am I sharing any faith of any kind — I’m just like them.
“It’s tough being a woman in a mean world…You and I are learning that we have to deal with our mean streak every time it rears its ugly head. If we don’t, “mean” won’t just streak. It will stick.” (p 59, Esther Member Book: It’s Tough Being a Woman)
Boy, that hit me!
So, how could I deal with this forgiveness issue the wrong way? Well, here are a couple that I have certainly tried before:
- Out of sight out of mind – If I don’t see them for a while and don’t feel the emotion of anger, I think I’ve forgiven them. I sweep it “under the rug” and think it is handled.
The problem with this when it happens is that as soon as I see them, “Boom” I’m furious again and haven’t braced myself for how I should act.
- Move it out with Motivation – Oh, the world is full of books to “deal” with difficult people – to positive think my way out of frustration and anger with people. If I just THINK about it, I can “forgive” the people who have wounded and crushed me.
Oh, if it were only that easy.
- Call the Waaaa-mbulance and Take a Bitter Pill– This is the one I’ve struggled with lately. Some of the situations I’m in right now are completely unfair to me. They are. So, I’ve found a few people who “understand” and will listen. I deal with the issues at hand, but turn around to spill my gutts to my trusted few confidants.
This DOES NOT WORK!!! This has made my confidants bitter against these people AND I have become bitter too. It is harder for me now, not easier! I’ve whined myself into bitterness! I have whined them into bitterness! Instead of forgiving like I should have, I’ve been selfish and now those I love have to forgive too! How wrong of me!
So, in this case – as I struggle with forgiving – I’ve been moving messes around. As you can see, instead of dealing with the first mess the RIGHT WAY – I’ve made worse and bigger messes by not doing things the RIGHT WAY.
And GOD’S WAY is the RIGHT WAY!!! He knows how to deal with messes the first time!
Luke 6:37 “Do not judge, and you will not be judged. Do not condemn, and you will not be condemned. Forgive, and you will be forgiven.”
The Parable of the Unmerciful Servant
21Then Peter came to Jesus and asked, “Lord, how many times shall I forgive my brother when he sins against me? Up to seven times?” 22Jesus answered, “I tell you, not seven times, but seventy-seven times.[f]
23“Therefore, the kingdom of heaven is like a king who wanted to settle accounts with his servants. 24As he began the settlement, a man who owed him ten thousand talents[g] was brought to him. 25Since he was not able to pay, the master ordered that he and his wife and his children and all that he had be sold to repay the debt.
26“The servant fell on his knees before him. ‘Be patient with me,’ he begged, ‘and I will pay back everything.’ 27The servant’s master took pity on him, canceled the debt and let him go.
28“But when that servant went out, he found one of his fellow servants who owed him a hundred denarii.[h] He grabbed him and began to choke him. ‘Pay back what you owe me!’ he demanded.
29“His fellow servant fell to his knees and begged him, ‘Be patient with me, and I will pay you back.’
30“But he refused. Instead, he went off and had the man thrown into prison until he could pay the debt. 31When the other servants saw what had happened, they were greatly distressed and went and told their master everything that had happened.
32“Then the master called the servant in. ‘You wicked servant,’ he said, ‘I canceled all that debt of yours because you begged me to. 33Shouldn’t you have had mercy on your fellow servant just as I had on you?’ 34In anger his master turned him over to the jailers to be tortured, until he should pay back all he owed.
35“This is how my heavenly Father will treat each of you unless you forgive your brother from your heart.””
So, I am to forgive from my heart. It’s gotta be the real deal — and that ONLY comes through prayer because I don’t have it in me to do this! I’m not there yet, but these other unhealthy ways of dealing with it have gotta go- they are making it worse!
This is why it is SOO important to study God’s word. All of us have our own unique set of weeds – our own unique messes. God has a word for you that is different from me.
I love how Beth Moore always talks about how she doesn’t want people to JUST study her lessons. The BIBLE is God’s word, period. That is where you will find your answers and where we must always seek to find them.
So, as you struggle with the sins in your life, whatever they may be: overeating, unforgiveness, temptation, greed, jealousy, bitterness…
when you feel that prompting in your heart that you are messing up and need to clean it up – understand this:
Clean up the mess the right way the first time by applying the clean up prescription in God’s word or it is very likely you are just moving your mess and multiplying it in the process!
This is important as we look at our “resolutions” for the new year!! You know where your messes are and most likely, you’re setting a resolution right about now! Be careful that your resolution isn’t a manmade prescription that will just move your mess around. Take some time to see what God would have you do about the messes in your life and REALLY do something about them for a change!
Tomorrow we’ll talk about the third lesson from my Big Old Backyard Mess Parable: Tackling Tough Times Together