Clint and the boys had an event this weekend at Strath an De Farm, home of Father Son Camp East. It was for buckaroos. The girls wanted to be buckaroos but this was a guys only weekend. Mama had no desire to tent camp so I thought it all worked out well. But how to please three pink buckaroos?
Drum roll please: grocery shopping.
You have no idea the groans this elicited from my bored cowgirls.
Even Sam’s Club where the samples will be flowing?
The silent stares were pitiful. So I threw in Panera.
Three cheers for mama!
Sam’s Club on a Friday evening can be painful, especially with a toddler and a preschooler; thankfully, it was not crowded and we were enjoying the AC at Panera in record time. As we navigated the restaurant to find a booth an elderly lady became enamored with the girls and called out different questions to them from her table. Her attention caused no small amount of giggles from my lady bugs. My reaction was a little less warm. I wanted to get drinks, get food, get seated. I assumed the rest of the patrons felt the same way about my little band. You get used to the impatience of our society when you take six children with you everywhere you go and I guess it has begun to affect my outlook. That’s too bad. The Holy Spirit pricked my heart and I offered the very sweet lady a smile and a few answers to her polite questions on my return trip to the table while juggling 4 cups of water. It crossed my mind to invite her to join us but to my shame I inwardly accused myself of being a lunatic and refocused on getting the girls to stop shoving the table back and forth. PANERA: please bolt your booth tables to the floor?
As our bread bowls and salads and sandwiches were delivered and we got settled in I felt a commotion at my elbow. This lady had spunk! She had dragged her dining chair across the restaurant to our booth. I grinned anxiously with surprise and then (hopefully it was received) with warmth and welcome. She.was.a.de.light. She didn’t want to talk to me as much as the children. She politely asked each princess her name and then her age, making eye contact and listening for answers. To Sissy’s horror she then asked them to guess her age. It took my mild mannered 10 year old a few moments and some prodding to actually guess but we found out she was 85. She told us she was much older than she looked and that was certain. With the grace of a bygone era, she spoke for a few more minutes about being a retired reading teacher, having taught students from every walk of life but the farm. We giggled. She asked the girls about school and was delighted to hear that we school at home. She was adamant that Common Core is a disservice to students and teachers alike. And just like that, she thanked us for the conversation and politely excused herself.
If God had been gracious in preserving her mind to a ripe old age her body had betrayed her. Her chair got caught on a corner of flooring and she managed to recover it with great difficulty. Not wanting my toddler to knock all of our food to the ground I was inwardly debating how to help when an older gentleman stood. My relief vanished when I noticed the scowl on his face. He was irate with the woman’s struggle and used every bit of his body language to communicate his disdain and impatience. He put on quite the show. Now I was mad. Angry. How dare he… Oh boy. That is when the conviction began. Had I not been annoyed with this same woman less than 30 minutes before? Who had been watching? Had they noticed my facial expressions as she made polite conversation with my daughters during our attempt to find a seat? Had she noticed?
As she slowly moved back to her table and the impatient man went on his way my face burned with shame. The Holy Spirit never misses His mark and I had made an easy target of myself. I wonder: was the elderly woman a lonely retired teacher or an angel in disguise? More importantly, did I learn anything from the encounter?
Humility and repentance have been a constant theme in our home this summer. We are memorizing the book of James and one of us (who has a full time job) is in chapter 2 while others of us (whose full time jobs are teaching and learning) are in chapter 4. Verses 7-9 of chapter 4 give us 10 steps to achieving the kind of humility which leads to repentance. They are “bookended” with verses about humility.
Verse 6b reads, “God is opposed to the proud but gives grace to the humble.”
Then follows the 10 step process toward humility in verses 7-9:
1. Submit to God
2. Resist the devil
3. Draw near to God
4. Cleanse your hands
5. Purify your hearts
6. Be miserable
9. Let your laughter be turned into mourning
10. Let your joy be turned into gloom
Verse 10 follows, “Humble yourselves in the presence of the Lord, and He will exalt you.”
Our facebook feed, the comments we read posted on news articles, the blogs we subscribe to, our conversations with friends and family, they all point to one resounding theme: judgement. As a nation we are reeling from a summer chocked full of controversies ranging from drugged rape, racial prejudice, homosexual unions, the definition of marriage, molestation, the sale of aborted body parts, child pornography and adultery. I didn’t even mention gun control, terrorism and Common Core but they are just as controversial. What is at least one common result of each of these controversies? Judgement. In response, or more often reaction, we are all passing our judgements out left and right.
Are we to judge? You bet. It is a Biblical mandate. Before you pass your own judgement on that statement, look it up and study it out. Here is a passage to get you started: Matthew 7:1-5. Please don’t leave off verse 5 because it explains the entire passage. We are not only called to make judgements in our minds but to pass that judgement on to whomever we are judging. HOWEVER, HOWEVER, HOWEVER, we are to humble ourselves BEFORE we judge. That is what is so important about verse 5. We are to spend time on our face with the list from James chapter 4 BEFORE we start judging.
Might I suggest that if we judge from a place of humility our words will be kind and not hateful, our arguments will be well thought out and not off the cuff, our intent will be the good of others and the glory of God not the swelling up of our own ego at being “right”. Jesus said in Matthew 5 that hate is murder and lust is adultery. Ouch. This means that in the end, Jesus will judge not only our physical words and actions but also the thoughts of our mind and feelings of our heart. Our pastor often asks himself, “What’s your motive?” When we judge, what is our motive?
Final thought: What is America’s biggest problem?
Well, I am.
When I was impatient with the elderly woman in Panera that was selfishness. When I angrily judged the impatient man that was hatefulness which spiritually equals murder. Is that on the same level as actually murdering the man? Well, Jesus says it is in Matthew 5 and 1 John restates it. Using that stick as a measuring tool, the sins in my heart are every bit as offensive to God as the sins seen in the recently released Planned Parenthood videos. What is the difference then between my hateful thoughts and their giddy dissection of babies whose hearts are still beating? (Please, please be outraged by that.) Repentance. Humility. Misery and mourning and weeping over the fact that the Holy God of the universe has been offended by me, a mere worm.
We (Clint and I) would personally like to see each and every Planned Parenthood office closed down and reopened as a true woman’s health clinic where no abortions are offered. That is good. We are outraged at what they get away with under the cover of law. That is good. We are outraged that more of you are not outraged. That is good, too.
God is outraged by Planned Parenthood. He is right. God is outraged by my selfish hatred of those who inconvenience and offend me. He is right. God is outraged when I am not miserable and mourning and weeping over my selfish hatred. He is right, again.
So do we want to see things change? Then we need to be the change. We need to humble ourselves. We need to repent of our sin. EVERY DAY. We need to follow the steps in James chapter 4. And then, by all means, we need to follow Jesus in obedience and judge the sin all around us. But we must do it from a place of great humility that realizes even though we are the problem, God would also like to use us as the solution.
Struggling with you,
Questions for family discipleship:
Do we realize that we are the problem, too? Why or why not?
Should we memorize James Chapter 4 verses 6-10 and apply them in our daily lives?
How will our thoughts, actions and words be different if we humble ourselves and repent of our own sin BEFORE we judge others?
Did James instruct us to repent once in our lives or repeatedly? Yearly? Monthly? Daily? Hourly?