The other day my husband Steve and I were sitting in a Chinese restaurant for lunch. After I chose what I wanted to have to eat, I felt like I needed some form of entertainment, so I began searching their paper placemat. You know the ones that tell you what kind of animal you are according to the year you were born and then the characteristics you supposedly possess based on that information? I was a bit disheartened to learn that I am, according to their calendar, what I detest the most – the snake. Then I began to search around to see what my husband was. I looked at the boar, nothing. I looked at the ram, nothing… And then it caught my eye. Born in 1958 – the dog. “Great, I’m a snake and he’s a harmless and loyal dog”. Perfect. So, my next reaction was to read what it said under ‘snake’. Wise… okay, I can deal with that depending on the usage of the word. (There may be hope for something really good in there after all.) Deep thinking… well, sometimes. And then my heart was pierced with… high-temper. I wish I could say that I was then thrust into the midst of deep denial, but there it was. The truth laid bare staring me back in the face, sneering at me as if to say, “Ssssseee, I told you ssso.” Lunch didn’t seem so appetizing anymore.
I tried to recall all the times I got angry, and prided myself on ‘not sinning’ in the midst of my anger in an attempt to somehow justify myself or at least lessen the impact on my emotions. But, it didn’t work. I was guilty of harboring anger, resentment, frustration and impatience. All the qualities that I despise – just like the snake.
I secretly wondered, ‘how did I get this way? I didn’t use to be like this! I used to be free! I used to possess joy! And I could look anger right in the face and just brush it off and move on! If someone or something made me mad, I would just get quiet and take it to God and ask Him to fix it for me and then walk away from it knowing that He’s got it all under control. I’ve watched Him work on my behalf time and time again with different people and issues. When I had no one else and needed Him most, He was there. So, what happened??
I heard the Holy Spirit whisper to my heart that day – “Your anger was under My control then, and needs to remain with Me continually. You will always be a work in progress and even though there are victories, you will always need Me. I will fix this for you if you let me. Trust Me.”
This Scripture in Psalm 36:2 hit me like a ton of bricks while reading… For he flattereth himself in his own eyes, until his iniquity be found to be hateful. This was me. Ouch.
But there is hope! The Bible tells us that the opposite of pride is meekness (humility).
Meekness: Softness of temper; mildness; gentleness; resignation, forbearance under injuries and provocations, submission to the divine will of God without murmuring or peevishness, not irritated.
I’m reminded of how the Israelites were stuck in the wilderness dealing with the same issues over and over until they were ready to move into the land God had promised them. The journey was supposed to take only a few days, but instead, they were stuck there for 40 years! Do you want to be stuck in the wilderness refusing to deal with the same junk over and over? I know I don’t.
Perhaps it’s time we allow God to continue to take out of us those things that quench and grieve His Spirit. Perhaps it’s time we start trusting God again to deal not only with our hearts and minds, but our situations too. You know, the ones that we can do nothing about anyway? And perhaps it’s time we climb back up into the lap of our heavenly Father again and allow Him to forgive, cleanse, and love us like only He can do.
Create in me a clean heart O God, and renew a right spirit within me.
I’m ready – are you?