Joyful Inconvenience

We go through life being inconvenienced for many different reasons. Whether at the store when they don’t have our favorite ice cream. We are inconvenienced when we are stuck in traffic trying to get home to our wives who have an amazing night planned. And, we are inconvenienced when we break down on the side of the road and are late for an important event and can’t do anything about it. No matter what, when things go awry and not the way we planned, for the worse and not the better, we are not happy, and deserve better. Or do we?

I remember a time when I was on a business trip for three weeks in Georgia. Away from my wife, listening to lectures, watching films, taking tests, and working with people my personality is not compatible with to then come back to the hotel, grab a meal, and go to bed to wake up hours later and do it all over again. I was ready to come home. Guess what? Didn’t happen. Got to the airport and my flight was delayed. Then delayed some more to the point where I missed my connecting flight. With no flights available, I was stuck in an Atlanta Ramada Plaza that looked like it hadn’t been updated since it was built in the late 1960’s. Not to mention that they gave me meal tickets to use at the hotel that hadn’t a working kitchen since Ronald Reagan was President. I was not happy or joyful — just feeling put out.

Look

So where does the joy come in? It comes in Jesus Christ. That no matter what situation I am in, I can use it for Christ’s glory.

People ask me often why I am so patient and that in really sticky situations I let things (for the most part) roll off my back like water on a duck. Not always the case trust me. My friends know me better. But for the average person I’m pretty patient. How did it happen? The Lord for one. Of course, but also there are some things I do to help me through a situation, like I’m having right now.

Look Up.

Many times when I’ve been down or anxious, I go outside on a nice clear night away from city lights, and look up at the stars and think to myself, “I am a very insignificant part of this entire universe that God created for His glory.” Depressing? No. Because I am traveling 67,000 miles per hour on a rock that is spinning at 1,000 miles per hour, the sun that heats the earth enough to grow plants, lets us see, create solar energy, among hundreds of other thing but not too close that we burst into flames or far enough that we turn into Popsicles and freeze to death. Every morning I know the sun will rise and at night I know the sun will set, and there is nothing I can do about it. You know what? It’s cool with me. I can’t control what goes on in space, but God is in control. He’s way better at it than I would be. Read Job 39-42 and prepare to be amazed at God’s glory and His control on our lives.

Look Out.

Now when I say “look out” it’s not a warning, but a comfort. Every once in a while I will put my face up against the bathroom mirror, close one eye, and stare at my eyeball. I’ll study it, check out every line and detail. The colors, the shapes, size, and just say to myself, “wow, God created that, and that is just one small piece of me.” Blows my mind every time. He took care to make that, among many other parts. Designed and engineered for His glory. I am His special creation. What is He going to do with me today?

Looking out also means looking out into the world who needs Jesus. Compared to those who are destined to endure the wrath of God in hell, I am doing alright. But why shouldn’t that cause me to pity those who don’t have that salvation. My love for those who do not know the Lord, heard the gospel, or received that salvation He offers through Jesus should trump anything that comes my way; to take these inconvenient moments in life on the chin and use it to share the gospel with those who are conveniently placed before me.

Look In.

Next time you’re having a crappy day, and things are just not going your way. No matter what you do, it’s just not working out, do this. Take your right index and middle finger, put them together, and put them up to your neck and feel your heartbeat. Is it beating? Then you’re doing pretty good. Seriously. When I get really messed up, depressed, sad, angry, put out, I just feel my heartbeat and say, “Yup, still beating. Praise the Lord. Doing good today.” Now this may not work for everyone and I would never belittle any condition people may have like chronic pain, disease, cancer…etc…etc. I’ve met people who would be thankful their heartbeat wasn’t there. But for most of us, the average person, that heartbeat is the only thing keeping you from sudden death. I mean think about it. You have a pump in your chest that never needs maintenance, lubrication, oil, repair, or primed and pumps at least if not over 100,800 times a day, every day, without stopping. How can you think about that for a few minutes and not praise God for what you have?

God’s Plan Usually Isn’t My Own

Here is my point. I am a part of the entire creation. I am fearfully and wonderfully made, created in God’s image for His glory. God is the potter, and I am the clay. Formed with a purpose and function with love. Since He created me, He can do whatever He wishes in my life. Do we really have free will? What if I made a pencil from scratch. Does my pencil have free will to write whatever it wants? Do I own the pencil? Can I write anything I want with the pencil? What if I snapped the pencil in half and threw it away? Can I do that? Do I have that right, or does that make me a mean person? So if I am God’s creation, made with a purpose and function, does that give me the right to do whatever I wanted? Nope. Does it give God the right to do whatever He wanted with me? Yup.

I remember as I entered the hotel I prayed a short prayer and asked God to reveal why I was there. Sometimes He does, and sometimes He doesn’t. But if I was there for a reason other than missing a flight, I would like to know. But here is what happened.

For the past three weeks I had been reading a book by John Piper called, When I Don’t Desire God: How to Fight For Joy. I happened to have it in my hands checking in when the man behind the counter saw the book and commented on it. I told him what the book was about and he took a picture of it and said he needed to read it. He’d been a joyless Christian for months and had been praying for a revival in his heart, feeling bad that he didn’t have a desire for God. I talked with him for several minutes and encouraged him. I gave him the gospel, a tract, and a Gideon New Testament and he said it was the first time he’d smiled in a while. God has plans for us that we don’t know. A man plans his ways, but God directs his steps (Proverbs 16:9).

Better Than I Deserve

Years ago I had the privilege to know a man at church named Ken Hunt. I never really talked with him until one day he overheard me telling someone about a problem in my basement and he offered to help. After helping me with the basement we ate dinner my wife cooked and chatted about things to get to know each other. One thing about Ken is that when you asked him, “How you doing?” he always answered, “Better than I deserve.” One day I asked him about it and was curious what he meant. He just answered something like, “No matter what we get in this life, it is better than what we deserve, and that’s hell.” That was a key moment to my thinking as a Christian, that no matter what I receive in this life, it will be far better than anything I deserve in the next. Thank God (literally) that He sent His Son to willfully pay my fine with His life blood on the cross so I can have that better life. This helps me have a thankful heart as much as I can.

So, even though I slept in my clothes and with the light on at the tattered hotel, I thanked God I had a roof over my head and a lock on my door. I didn’t get much sleep, but thanked the Lord He will allowed me to get up another day and breathe His air.

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