Sunday, November 17, 2013

Steady in a Storm

Steady in a Storm
Peggy Mack
August, 2013

It has been one month since I made the commitment to practice my faith by setting aside the first 30 minutes of each morning for devotions and Bible study and prayers.

As part of my promise to live my faith, I have been trying to make Sunday worship a part of our weekly plans.  In recent weeks I feel like I have been mutinied and was determined that tomorrow we would be in church.  The past two weeks there has been a reluctance on my husband's part to do something as simple as choose what he is going to wear and have it ready Saturday night before bedtime.  I go through that routine because he was on his own and independent for the past 26 years and is used to taking care of his own clothes from laundering to ironing, so it has been a win-win situation for me.

Until two weeks ago, when he woke up Sunday, had not pressed his slacks and could not get them pressed in time for church.    I had not realized we were down to one good shirt and pair of slacks with his recent weight gain.  The following week, I made the same request and Sunday morning, we could not go because of another clothing issue.  I cannot remember what it was.  By now, I was beginning to feel the tension and the resistance although he says he loves the church we have found together.  My plan this week was to take him shopping early Saturday morning for new slacks and shirts so we could move past the last minute problems.  
We were successful in finding one pair of gorgeous slacks at Penney's.  They were $45 and more than I would spend on myself but I was focused on this goal to worship.  We drove to Tanger Mall and found, again, only one shirt but we were pleased.  On the way home,  I asked, "What is it you need to get these ready by tonight.?"  I need to wash and iron the shirt and press the slacks and I want to get my black shoes and polish them.  "Ok, I said. Great! I don't want to miss church tomorrow. We'll leave at 8"
Three hours later I am coloring my hair and I hear a scream...a scream from the laundry room.  "NO! No!" is all I hear.  And then I look.  He's standing at the ironing board and the new, charcoal grey, gorgeous slacks are on the board.  He looked at me.  I looked at him.  And he said, "I'll pay you." 

I was heartsick in an wasn't about the $45.  It was this sinking feeling that roadblocks keep being thrown in front of every effort I make to do something as simple as go to church.

In the past I would have let it escalate. Reclused myself and felt lost. That's how I deal with stressful issues, retreat and ache and give up.
I could not help but believe that the Devil knew me well enough to believe I would do just that, give up on trying to keep my promise to go to church.

But today is different.  Today is part of my journey to being a maturing Christian and having a living relationship with Christ. I am new at it so it is a bit like having training wheels on a bicycle.  But I am still on the bike and making progress.  But I will figure it out with time and practice and determination.

My friend, Dottie, had posted a devotional from Chris -------which dealt with our natural instinct to go into a mode of panic, demanding resolution when something happens in our life, much like a boat on stormy waters that begins to bounce uncontrollably on the waves. 
When that happens, we have to make a coscious choice.  We have to practice choosing to be calm when our nature is to panic. 

Here's an exerpt that helped from Chris ......'s devotion:
"Conformed to be Free

God’s Spirit is conforming us to the image of Christ. That means that we should be reforming from the image of the anxious people around us—that urgency and panic should be disappearing from our lives. So the question we should ask ourselves daily, or even hourly, is this: What am I worried about today? Whatever the issue, the way we deal with it will tell us volumes about what we think of God.

Christians should be people who float in the current of God’s Spirit, not bounce on the waves of circumstances. That doesn’t mean we shouldn’t care or that we should be lazy and irresponsible. It does mean, however, that our compassion and fruitfulness are never defined by heavy burdens and overwhelming demands.
Other people measure love and concern by the degree of anxiety and hands-on compulsions we exhibit. Jesus doesn’t, and neither should we. Sometimes the most compassionate, responsible approach is to trust and to wait. The tyranny of the telephone—the tyranny of anything, for that matter—can never be allowed to rule the Spirit who lives within us."

The words of this devotion were exactly what I needed on this day....and its message changed my way of handling life.

So, I chose to pray and I chose to talk to God about how hard I had worked to get us to church only to know that we would not make it now.  And then peace came over me and I thought about what Bill's mom would tell me if she could, "That's my son, be good to him".   And I prayed the Lord's prayer and spoke the words out loud, "Forgive us our trespasses as we forgive those who trespass against us." And finally, the thought came to me.  This is a pair of pants....that's all it is....pants.  If you want to feel disappointment and cry, think about how you would feel if the storm you face is Bill having a stroke or heartattack.  It's just pants! 

When Bill returned, he walked in with a new pair of pants from Belks!   We are going to church in the morning.  He was angry at himself and I told him that learning to forgive others begins with forgiving yourself.   And I repeated to him several times, "It's just pants.  It's just pants.  You are important to me. These are just pants."

 The ruined pants are gone, in the trash, never to be mentioned, again.  Forgiven and was "just a pair of pants".   I have Bill and Bill's love.....and a new chance to practice "floating" and not bouncing on the waves.  I have seen God working in our own home and I am a witness to the difference God makes if we only call on Him. 

Dear Heavenly Father,
I thank you for the gift of Dottie and her willingness to share devotions and other words of encouragement with others.  I thank you for Chris --------- and his message of remaining calm in a storm and training ourselves to "float" through a difficult situation.  I thank you for the time I had to learn and live a lesson in faith.  Most of all, I thank you for my husband, Bill.
In Jesus' Name,

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