THIS IS PERSONAL: 16 Months Later
I’ve been a bit grumpy lately. I think it started with the speeding ticket. I was on my way home from the airport driving on a busy Dallas interstate. I really wasn’t paying too much attention as cars passed me like I was standing still. You can imagine my shock to see flashing lights in my rear-view mirror! Nevertheless, I was guilty as charged. No excuse. It brought to mind a saying I heard from grandmother growing up. “It doesn’t matter what anyone else is doing; you will answer for what you do.” Sigh.
A few days later I had a routine dentist appointment. I have been going to the same dentist for six years; however, I was handed a stack of paperwork when I arrived as if I were a new patient. When I asked why I needed to complete the documents, I was told my paperwork was a year old, so it all needed redone. “Even if nothing has changed?” I asked. “Yes.” I complied, but I didn’t do a great job of hiding my frustration.
The following day I had scheduled a long overdue pedicure. I don’t have a very flexible schedule, so I am a bit of a stickler about appointments. When I arrived, I ended up having to wait an additional 30 minutes. My grumpiness meter was climbing.
Now I know what you are thinking. Seriously? These problems are minimal and insignificant. You would be right. Has this ever happened to you? Have you ever let inconvenient circumstances in your work or personal life steal your joy? It didn’t take long before I felt God whisper to my spirit, “Haven’t you learned anything these past 16 months?” I felt ashamed and a bit scared. I was ashamed for letting such insignificant situations influence my emotions and scared that I was losing sight of all God had taught me during the pandemic.
Sixteen months ago I wrote the blog, This is Personal. I challenged each of us to prayerfully consider God’s “personal pandemic purpose” for our lives. What was He wanting to teach us? What areas of our lives needed a reset? What was He calling us to do?
Although the pandemic had just started, I was learning to trust despite uncertainty (Proverbs 3:5-6), focus my mind on that which was excellent and worthy of praise (Philippians 4:8), pray instead of worry (Philippians 4:6-7), and give thanks in all circumstances (I Thessalonians 5:18). It hasn’t been easy, but God has been so patient with me. Because of Jesus, I have truly experienced His grace over and over again.
So then, since we have a great High Priest who has entered heaven, Jesus the Son of God, let us hold firmly to what we believe. 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 4:14-16
As life begins to return to pre-COVID levels, we must remember where we have been. What we have learned during this time is just as important now as it was 16 months ago, maybe even more so. We don’t want to be like the Israelites who forgot God during the good times and then cried out to him when tragedy struck (Judges 8:24). I would contend the quality of our relationship with God during times of prosperity often determines how well we navigate times of adversity and anguish. We all know trials provide an opportunity for us to witness God’s hand of protection and provision in our lives. Looking back on my life I continue to be amazed at how God has held me close and provided for my every need. I have absolutely no excuse to be grumpy!
The last sixteen months have been challenging for all of us. Things are better now, much better. While we are still dealing with the aftermath of a pandemic, there seems to be light at the end of the tunnel. Will we remember the Lord our God, or will we forget Him until the next crisis arises? Will we fail to remember all we have learned, or will we use what we have learned to deepen our relationship with the God who loves us?
My latest bout with grumpiness was a wake-up call. It forced me to remember the personal lessons God has taught me. I don’t want to forget!
· Trust God in the mundane. Seek Him in all things, big and small. His will for us is perfect.
But blessed are those who trust in the Lord and have made the Lord their hope and confidence. They are like trees planted along a riverbank with roots that reach deep into the water. Such trees are not bothered by the heat or worried by long months of drought. Their leaves stay green, and they never stop producing fruit. Jeremiah 17:7-8
· Focus on the eternal. Speeding tickets, paperwork, and late appointments will make no difference in eternity. We are called to live obedient, faith-filled, fruitful lives. Love and serve others.
Set your minds on things that are above, not on things that are on earth. Colossians 3:2
Store your treasures in heaven where moths and rust cannot destroy, and thieves do not break in and steal. Wherever your treasure is, there the desires of your heart will also be. Matthew 6:20-21
· Pray to God about everything—our desires, our hurts, our questions, and most importantly, His Word. The Bible is God’s personal words to us. We hear from Him when we choose to spend time in His presence.
Never stop praying. I Thessalonians 5:17
Pray in the Spirit at all times and on every occasion. Stay alert and be persistent in your prayers for all believers everywhere. Ephesians 6:18
· Give thanks for all we have. Continue to practice a mindset of gratitude. Take nothing for granted. Everything we have is because of God’s grace. He is so good.
Praise the Lord! Give thanks to the Lord, for he is good! His faithful love endures forever. Psalm 106:1
I don’t know what God has taught you through this season, but I have no doubt you have learned a few lessons, too! Treasure the work God has done in your life! I refuse to believe we have all gone through this season for nothing! We have a personal God who is working to transform us into the likeness of His Son. Our learning and growing will never stop this side of eternity. Let’s not forget. He is God in the hard times, AND He is God in the joy and sunshine. May we all enter this new season renewed, refreshed, and certainly not grumpy!