"It's me that needs to change, not my circumstances." (Mike Donehey, Tenth Avenue North)
This morning I re-read Day 1 of a Bible devotional in my YouVersion Bible app by the group Tenth Avenue North on the themes of their album from a couple of years ago "The Struggle", and it really resonated with me. I've found myself thinking along the same lines a fair bit in recent times and I thought I would share it:
Don't Stop the Madness
I'm sitting in a small airport in Montana right now, sleep deprived and delayed. I've been gone from my family for what feels like forever and just want to get home. You know that feeling right? When you just want to get home? But as I sit here on the floor and stare red eyed at my computer screen, I have to remember one thing. God seldom works in the easy and comfortable.
Can He? Sure.
Does He? Sometimes.
But more often than not, the times that shape me, the times that make me more loving and more gracious, aren't usually what I look back on as "good times." Isn't that strange? I mean, sure we all want to be considered "gracious," but who wants to have to go through being wronged so that they actually have the opportunity to grow in grace?
So I'm left in a bit of a conundrum. Sitting here on the floor, killing time watching people beat the snack machine, I have a choice. I could do the easy thing. Do what I'd usually do in this situation. I could moan and whine, complain that there's no reason our plane is delayed, and disdainfully announce that I will never fly this incompetent airline again; or I can take a step back.
Take a deep breath. Do the impossible.
By His grace I can take the hard road that leads to life. I can think on the sovereignty and goodness of God. Think on His promise that He is able to work everything together into something beautiful. Yes, even this seemingly meaningless inconvenience might just be the hand of God at work to grow patience, kindness and goodness in me.
We don't like to think that way though do we? I don't. It's hard. It's complicated to reconcile a God who works through pain. It's tough to trust in a Lord who allows suffering and inconvenience. It'd be a whole lot easier to mindlessly promise myself that Jesus always wants to make life easy, but I don't think that's how He works. If anything, Jesus uses dark colors when He paints. He's into streams in the desert and life out of death.
Just take one good look at the cross and that ought to convince you that the God the Bible speaks of is a God who uses horror and injustice to His advantage. The cross is evidence to our minds, and balm for our souls that our God is a God who brings beauty out of pain.
Art out of chaos. Beauty out of ugliness.
Or as some of the poets have said, He conquers death by death itself. Our Redeemer beats Death at his own game. Hope rises.
When we trust Christ, and the mysterious work on Calvary, we trust that He's always up to something good even in the darkest days. In fact, that's probably when He's up to the most good, because that's when the most good grows in me.
So hey, I'm delayed, I'm uncomfortable, but if this is the path the Lord has brought me down, then I say, "Don't stop it Lord. Redemption was born on a far darker day than this one, so bring the chaos. Bring the madness. Do whatever you've got to do to recreate my heart." After all, it's me that needs to change, not my circumstances.