No, not milk.
OK, so the other day I started things out with a visit to a certain fast food establishment – (they just might decorate with golden arches…). You see, there's this delicious Iced Coffee drink that I buy there. I love it. It's like a heavy-duty dose of adrenaline in a cup. I'm not sure if it's the caffeine or the "liquid sugar" they use – but it's effective.
At least for about three hours.
Then I crash off that caffeinated cliff into the abyssal chasm of low blood sugar. And look for the nearest couch to doze off on.
So, after mumbling into the voice box order thing – and being helped by another mumbler – I finally drove off with my treasure. For a while anyway. Until I turned a sharp corner, kinda fast.
It was then that I realized that I had placed the very large plastic cup in the wrong cup holder. It was in the loose one, not the snug one.
Well, the walls came a-tumbling down.
Coffee spilled all over my console, the side of the console, the passenger seat, the doormats, and all the way down to the nice carpet underneath the doormats. Grrrr! I'm not sure whether I was more upset over the spillage, or the loss of even one measly teaspoon of my liquid energy.
Since I was rather close to home, I decided to drive there to clean up the mess.
Several miles later, I arrived – only to see (finally) that I had driven the entire distance with my emergency brake on. More grrrr…
Let me tell you, there is nothing finer than the odiferous smell of coffee, cream, liquid sugar, and burnt rubber to start your day!
OK, so I finally got everything cleaned up.
And then I was off again.
Of course, I dropped the keys before getting back (for the second time) into the driver's seat. And, of course, they fell under the car so I had to crawl and maneuver myself under the chassis. Boys and girls, my chassis isn't what it used to be, so this wasn't pretty.
Little did I know that this auspicious beginning was only the *warm-up* to a series of minor catastrophes. (Is "minor catastrophe" an oxymoron? Or maybe I'm just stuck on the word moron here…)
Catastrophes like how I went to the bank the next day expecting them to open at 9:00 AM. Only to find out that this particular branch opens at 10 AM. Like how I went to another branch, only to find out that they also open at 10 AM. What?? That whole phrase "banker's hours" is starting to make more sense to me. Used to be that the bank was open from 9 AM – 6 PM. Oh no, not anymore. These two branches were only open from 10 AM – 4 PM.
Are they going to start charging us money to use our money?? Oh wait, they already do that…
Stand, stand for like 20 minutes. Wait, wait for them to open the doors. Stand, stand inside. Wait, wait for my turn.
Then off and running again.
I decided that I was going to need help to get through this day. I was too far from my beloved golden arches, so I stopped at a certain coffee establishment – (not mentioning any names, but they might just have something to do with astronomy and $$$).
Well, as I drove up I happened to notice that ALL the employees were standing outside – with a cop. More waiting, and then the doors were opened again. As I strolled by, I asked, "Were you guys robbed today?" The guy answered, "No, someone left a suitcase."
What a world.
I ordered something to eat, which they were "all out of" – and then I ordered my drink. OK, this drives me nuts. NO ONE knows how to spell the name Sharon. (Is my name really that old-fashioned, or is spelling just a lost art???) I've had these versions: Sheran, Sharron, Sharin, Cheran, etc. Once I got so frustrated about this that I told them my name was Cindy. Which they spelled Cyndi. So, this day I spelled my name out for them. And then claimed the drink that was made for Shannon.
I left. I drove over the curb trying to get out of the parking lot. (In my defense, a police car was in the way).
What other stuff has gone on?
I've lost my reading glasses. Not just misplaced them, like I do at least 3 (23) times a week. This time I really think they're gone for good. Luckily, they were only store-bought cheapies. But still. I lost the case, and a nifty little cleaning cloth, and a super-duper little repair kit, too.
I've looked, and I've retraced my steps, and so far, no luck.
Call me Mrs. Magoo.
I bought another pair to replace them. Otherwise I would not be able to read, or to write this diatribe about my recent travails.
I can hardly wait to see what the next 24-48 hours entails. Because obviously, Murphy and his stupid law are hitching a ride with me!
But honestly, isn't this the way life goes?
Things like this happen…
ALL. THE. TIME.
The faucet leaks, the tire is flat, the power goes out, they discontinue your favorite lipstick color, you forget to put on your eyebrows, you run out of gas, an unexpected bill arrives, the post office is closed, the pen runs out of ink...
I know you know what I'm talking about.
Life throws a lot of big stuff at us, but more often than not, it's the little stuff that really drives us crazy.
Like my grandmother used to say – "It's the little foxes that spoil the vine."
(Did you know this came from the Bible? I only recently found that out!! It's from Song of Solomon 2:15, KJV)
Most days I'd be very glad indeed if the little foxes found another vineyard in which to perform their shenanigans…just sayin'.
Sometimes I wonder why I get so upset over all these things. After all, in the whole scope of things they are really small stuff. But like the steady drip-drip-drip of that aforementioned leaky faucet, they work their little incessant havoc on my nerves.
Until, if ONE more thing comes along…
I'M. GONNA. BLOW. UP.
Vesuvius, Kilauea, Mount St. Helen's, Krakatoa.
Livid lava, miffed magma, crater chaos.
We've all been there, done this, hate it, and never seem to learn any lesson from it.
So, I'm determined to learn something here.
God, Your turn, speak.
I'm thinking the lesson is found in why these things are so upsetting. I'm thinking of three reasons:
1) We get mad because we're in a hurry.
Yes, it seems that we are a people who are always on the go. We've got places to go, people to see, things to do. There isn't a lot of *wiggle room* in the average day for setbacks or snafus. We are on a schedule, people. And there is no time to waste.
Urgency has replaced importance. But, if we're not careful, we can find ourselves constantly scurrying around putting out little sparks and embers, when in reality the whole forest might be ablaze.
(Charles E. Hummel wrote a great booklet about this very subject – "Tyranny of the Urgent").
But a hurried pace doesn't make up for intentional action. And constant busyness is no cover-up for lack of goals and purpose. After all, I can run really, really fast on a hamster wheel, but I'm not going to go anywhere.
Jesus counsels us that time is short. But of course, He is talking about eternal missions and the desperate need for salvation. I think He wants us to follow His example. To take the time to notice people. After all, you just don't know when an opportunity will come your way to speak the Good News into someone’s life.
Lesson #1: Slow Down Your Pace
"[Go forth] with your feet fitted with the readiness that comes from the gospel of peace." (Ephesians 6:15, NIV)
2) We get mad because we have an agenda.
I've heard it said that if you want to make God laugh, tell Him your plans.
I always chuckle at this, but the truth of it kinda makes me cringe – (truth hurts). We are a people who like to have an agenda. We need schedules. We have things we want to accomplish. In our way, in our timing.
We are addicted to our planners, or our phones, or any number of other ways to keep track of the time and plan out our hours.
I think we come by it innocently at first. After all, we all grew up listening to school bells, telling us where to be and when. We had deadlines, and class schedules, and due dates, and homework outlines.
Then we may have graduated to the grown-up world of meetings, and lunches, and appointments, itineraries, flight schedules, and yes, perhaps more deadlines.
And everything was oh-so-neat-and-orderly.
But, the truth of the matter is this – life is most often NOT orderly.
And it certainly has no innate obligation to fit into our agenda.
Jesus has often been described as an itinerant person. So, I looked that word up:
Itinerant: a person who travels from place to place.
I sorta like that Jesus was a wanderer. He didn't hold to a schedule. But, just because He didn't have appointments didn't mean that He didn't have purpose. Every single day He came upon *God-appointed* moments.
They were there, just waiting for Him.
Jesus was certainly the most intentional person that has ever walked this planet. But He didn't plan His days – He let the Father do that. And His only agenda was to do what the Father told Him to do.
Let us do likewise – dedicating ourselves to the appointments God has for us, while always letting Him lead us through our days.
Lesson # Two: Hold Your Schedule Loosely
"We can make our plans, but the LORD determines our steps."
(Proverbs 16:9, NIV)
3) We get mad because we can't control things.
I looked up the word in Sharon's Acrostic Dictionary. This is what I found:
T urning over or
O wnership to the
I hate to admit it, but control is really an issue with me. It's taken a long time to come to that realization. You know why? Because in my mind, control freaks were always those "Type A" people with big ambitions, domineering personalities, and bossy attitudes. I'm not really like that. So, I thought that control wasn't really a "shortcoming" of mine.
The Lord has shown me that my incessant worrying also stems from the need to have control. After all, the things that cause me to worry the most are really the things that I have the least control over. The things that I can't influence or manipulate to work out the way I want them to.
So, when those *Murphy days* come along, I am highly irritated because the crazy distractions and annoyances and bugaboos have happened whether I wanted them to or not. I have not yet figured out how to keep the *little foxes* in their place.
A dear friend of mine – (you know who you are) – recently had a lovely septic tank disaster. My heart really went out to her. This was an episode that literally uprooted their lives.
Talk about something out of our control!!
Pride, pride, pride will always strive to live life on our own terms. With everything in its place (according to us), and working to make our lives comfortable, convenient, and calm.
But things just don't work that way.
Jesus knew this. This is one reason why I find the Incarnation so utterly amazing. Think on this – the One who created the entire universe, with all its physical laws and order – He chose to enter into the chaos of a broken and sin-filled world. Why He even deigned to become one of the very humans He had made Himself!
Can you even wrap your head around what He had to experience?
Can you imagine the craziness of some of those crowds? The shouting and wailing and pushing and shoving of people trying to get close to Him – or the uproar of dissenters and enemies. Can you imagine the insanity of being tempted by a fallen angel that You had created so very long ago? What about the limitations He chose to enter in an oh-so-very-human body? A body that got hot and cold, tired and sore, hungry and thirsty.
Jesus left the perfect order of Heaven, and entered into a world where He was not in control. A world in which He willingly, continually, and consistently chose to yield His life and His will to the omniscience and omnipotence of His Father.
Jesus worshiped the sovereignty of the Almighty God.
Even unto to death.
Lesson # Three: Surrender to the Sovereignty of God
"Let them know that you, whose name is the LORD – that you alone are the Most High over all the earth." (Psalm 83:18, NIV)
So, *those days* are going to keep coming. They're still going to drive us to distraction. They're still going to make us mad.
But those of us who worship the Lord – well, we must dedicate ourselves to marching to another drummer and listening to another still, small voice.
Slow down, hold your schedule loosely, surrender to the sovereignty of the King.
You know why?
Because even on those terrible, horrible, no good, very bad days…
God is still there, still directing our paths, still sitting on His throne.
For He is the Author of our days – every single one of them. Each day ordained and recorded in His book long before we were ever born. Yes, before the very creation of anything – there was God – the One who was and is and is to come.
From the beginning until the end of time…
What a day
It's been all wet,
And tomorrow will be
the same, I'll bet.
But if I focus
on the only One,
At the end of the day
He will have won!!
"Cease striving and know that I am God…" (Psalm 46:10, NASB)
"This is what the Sovereign LORD, the Holy One of Israel, says: 'Only in returning to me and resting in me will you be saved. In quietness and confidence is your strength.'" (Isaiah 30:15, NLT)
"Who among all these does not know that the hand of the LORD has done this? In his hand is the life of every living thing and the breath of all mankind." (Job 12:9-10, ESV)
"For in him we live, and move, and have our being…" (Acts 17:28, KJV)
"Worthy are you, our Lord and God, to receive glory and honor and power, for you created all things, and by your will they existed and were created." (Revelation 4:11, ESV)
"For the LORD, the Most High, is to be feared…the King of all the earth…God reigns over the nations; God sits on his holy throne…For the shields of the earth belong to God; he is highly exalted!" (From Psalm 47, ESV)
"This High Priest of ours understands our weaknesses, for he faced all of the same testings we do, yet he did not sin. So let us come boldly to the throne of our gracious God. There we will receive his mercy, and we will find grace to help us when we need it most." (Hebrews 4:15-16, NLT)
"Commit everything you do to the LORD. Trust him, and he will help you." (Psalm 37:5, NLT)
"Trust in the LORD with all your heart, and do not lean on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make straight your paths." (Proverbs 3:5-6, ESV)
"O LORD, you have examined my heart and know everything about me. You know when I sit down or stand up. You know my thoughts even when I’m far away. You see me when I travel and when I rest at home. You know everything I do. You know what I am going to say even before I say it, LORD. You go before me and follow me. You place your hand of blessing on my head. Such knowledge is too wonderful for me, too great for me to understand! I can never escape from your Spirit! I can never get away from your presence!
If I go up to heaven, you are there; if I go down to the grave, you are there. If I ride the wings of the morning, if I dwell by the farthest oceans, even there your hand will guide me, and your strength will support me. I could ask the darkness to hide me and the light around me to become night – but even in darkness I cannot hide from you…You made all the delicate, inner parts of my body and knit me together in my mother’s womb…You saw me before I was born. Every day of my life was recorded in your book. Every moment was laid out before a single day had passed.
How precious are your thoughts about me, O God.
They cannot be numbered!"
(From Psalm 139, NLT)
"LORD, remind me how brief my time on earth will be. Remind me that my days are numbered – how fleeting my life is…We are merely moving shadows, and all our busy rushing ends in nothing...And so, Lord, where do I put my hope? My only hope is in you." (Psalm 39:4, 6-7, NLT)
"'I am the Alpha and the Omega – the beginning and the end,' says the Lord God. 'I am the one who is, who always was, and who is still to come – the Almighty One.'" (Revelation 1:8, NLT)
"…Jesus said, 'It is finished.'" (John 19:30, NIV)
What encourages you on "one of those days"?
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