Saturday, April 2, 2011

Life lessons- my challenge post #1

Life lessons are always hard to learn.  I have heard people say ‘learn it the hard or easy way’, but I think most of mine are the hard way.  I can’t say I am complaining because I think they stick with me more than when I learn it ‘the easy way’.
   My hard lesson that God taught me this week happened yesterday morning.
Mom had set up a new plan for kitchen clean up.  Normally all of us kids do the kitchen clean up.  We each do our own thing.  Usually Becca or I would wash the dishes.  Then, as the boys got a little older, they started helping with the dishes.  Well, it seemed like who ever was milking that month would end up doing a lot of the dishes.  So, Mom decided to give it a little change.  Two of us milk each month.  We swap around so we can take turns getting a break and whatnot.  The plan, then, was that whoever was NOT milking had dish duty.  They were responsible for all the dish washing.   Ok, now that I have bored you with this little explanation, I can now tell the story.
            This is my month for washing dishes.  Yesterday was the first day.  However, the person who had dish duty in March did not finish cleaning all the dishes.  So, when my turn came up, I was going to have to wash all the dishes that this person had left behind.
My reasoning was this person needed to finish the job and not leave things for other people to clean up.  Mom decided that, yes, this person needed to finish up the dishes.   
I began happily cleaning up the kitchen (putting away food, wiping counters, etc) and then found out that Mom was playing ‘April Fool’s’ on this person that they didn’t need to clean up the dishes(she sent them to do something else, as I found out later on..).  Needless to say, I was rather upset.  Not because I had to wash the dishes (I don’t mind doing that, really), but because this person who had not finished the job went out of the kitchen happy, leaping, etc, and not caring a whit that I had to clean up after them.  I began washing, angry thoughts flooding my mind.  How dare they!  How could they just walk off without even a look of sympathy, or better yet, an offer of help?  It was just terrible!  I had to clean up this mess that this other person had left.  I now had to do all of the work so that this person could go and have fun.
            Then God smacked me with that famous 2x4…… “Sarah,” It said, somewhat sorrowfully,  “Have I done any less for you?”    I began to realize that Jesus had done SO much more for me.  He had cleaned up my mess of sin by hanging on the cross.   He died a painful death so that I could go free!  Why shouldn’t I do the same for my sibling by washing the dishes they left behind??
            However, Satan had other ideas…. Unfortunately, I let him talk me out of it.  I didn’t want to be merciful.  I wanted to be angry.  I didn’t want to forgive.  I went so far as to not even talk to my sibling.  Not helping this sibling make the breakfast.  I was mad at the person, and I was going to show it… I didn’t want to listen to that soft voice.  The more I thought about being mad, the softer the voice became until I could barely hear it above my own raging thoughts…
            Then I became ashamed of myself.  Was this the way to answer God?  He was trying to show me how powerful and beautiful His mercy was, yet I wasn’t willing to give it out as well.  I wanted to receive God’s mercy, but I wasn’t willing to give mercy to someone else.
            It reminded me of the story in the Bible about the one man who owed money to the other man.  The first man begged for more time to pay his debts, but the second man was unwilling and threw the poor man in jail until he could pay his debts.  Then, the second man had to go to a third man that HE owed money to.  The second man begged for more time (he wanted the mercy), but the third man was unwilling.  I was in the same situation.  I wasn’t willing to be kind toward my sibling.
            I had been reading in Isaiah this week.  The first part can be kind of sad because God is pouring out His wrath on the people of Israel, but as you get further into it, you see how God is still merciful.  He is willing, wanting to give the people mercy if they would just call on Him and turn from their wicked ways.  He wants to welcome them back with OPEN ARMS!  Yet the people still didn’t want to go back.  They didn’t want to stop worshiping the false gods.  They liked doing evil things and didn’t want to turn away from it all.
            I used to laugh at them and think, ‘the silly people!! If they would just turn back, all their troubles would be over!’….  and yet, here I was.  I didn’t want to listen to God’s gentle, rebuking voice telling me I was wrong.  I wanted to continue in my sin.  I had to make a decision.  Do I continue being angry, or do I let it go and be thankful, instead, that my sibling got to have some free time?
            As I was talking with my dear Mother later on, I poured out my heart and told her what had been wrong with me that morning (yes, I was noticeably angry).  She shared some advice-painful advice, but good advice.   I really don’t like it when she has to tell me the things that I need to change.  Yet, I also know that it is good.  If she didn’t tell me, I would never know and I would never be able to work on it. 
            I kind of felt like Eustace in ‘Voyage of the Dawn Treader’ when Aslan is scratching off his scales after he had been turned into a dragon.  It hurt Eustace to have them ripped off, but he felt so much better afterwards.
            Often times it hurts to be told we are wrong, but we can feel so much better if we turn away from our wrong and sin and run back to our Savior.  He will comfort us and heal us in such a wonderful, peaceful way. 
            After Mom and I had talked for a long time, I sobbingly sought forgiveness, and she gave it to me-willingly.  Then, I went outside, sat in my favorite spot on a low wall underneath a tree, and sobbed to God.   Have you ever been really cold?  You sip some hot cocoa and just feel it’s warmth seeping into your body?  When God is forgiving you, He gives you a peace that feels like that-only better.  It just creeps all over your body making you feel warm and safe.  Almost like God was hugging you right then and there.  
            So, the lesson God taught me this week was giving mercy.  I can tell you that it won’t be easy…. But I now have something to look back to whenever I feel angry thoughts beginning to surface.

What did God teach you this week?  I am anxious to hear your thoughts!  Oh, and I have to admit that I was not very faithful at reading my Bible every day this week.  Please pray that I will do better this coming week.

In Christ’s Service,
Sarah

8 comments:

Martha Joy said...

Hello Sarah,

I share in your feelings sometimes, as I also have troubles in being sweet and patient, kind and loving toward other people.

Lately I have been making it a point to wake up early (at least it's early to me. :) ) each morning and read my Bible, which I have failed to do in the past. (I will admit that I woke up late today, and didn't get to read :|)
Lately I have been reading in Romans. This verse struck my mind a few days ago.

"For the kingdom of God is not eating and drinking, but RIGHTEOUSNESS AND PEACE AND JOY in the Holy Spirit."
{Romans 14:17}

I know that, for me at least, sometimes it is hard to focus on being righteous, peaceful and joyful. Being righteous is an especially hard thing for me to do, as it seems to be the act of doing what's right. I mean, if you think about it, it's hard to do EVERYTHING that's right, but that is what needs to be done!
And being peaceful, it is so hard for me to try to be peaceful...never getting angry, aggravated, or anything of that sort.
And being joyful, that's also a hard one, always being happy and fun, never getting mad. Sometimes I think about my middle name...Joy. Am I really joyful? Do I really live up to my name? How I
surely hope I do, but sometimes it's just hard to!

Also, Mark 10:27 always rings out to me.
"With men it is impossible, but not with God, for with God all things are possible."

Sometimes I will realize how much I like to think about how I can do things by myself, or I don't need help, or something like that. But then I realize how much I need the LORD! The Father can do anything, and if it wasn't for him I wouldn't even be here! I think that it's a very humbling thought!

Thank you so much for doing this challenge, Sarah! I look forward to reading some of "submissions" from other readers!

Love and Blessings,
Martha Joy

P.S. Hope my comment wasn't to long! :)

May Amelia said...

*hugs!* Thank you dear Sarah for sharing your lessons with us! When I ask God to change me and make me more like Him, and He does through painful experiences, I'm more likely to say "Ok! That's enough! Good job God, but I think I'm ok just the way I am!" It's wonderful that you have a willing spirit to change and learn what God is trying to teach us! I think because you were the one to start the Bible Challenge that maybe Satan will attack you harder... And you didn't give up! That's giving Satan the ol' one-two. :D

Seeking to follow said...

Thank you for sharing, Sarah, this really blessed me.

Something I found that has really helped me to be more faithful in reading my Bible is to read at least one chapter every night before I go to bed. It doesn't take long to do, and it helps build that consistency. And even if I miss my normal reading earlier in the day, I still get some time with the Lord. :-)

Mary Ann said...

Sarah,

What a beautiful post. I know your mother must be very proud of you. These things are hard but so very helpful as we grow in God's way. May you always be so tender hearted. God bless you dear.

Mary Ann

Lady Rose said...

Sarah,

As I read your story about feeling angry about having to wash dishes that someone else "should have" done, I thought about the times in my life when I have had to "clean-up messes" that I did not necessarily make. Sometimes, it can be difficult to accept our "lot" graciously. It's much easier to "wallow in anger" than to have a charitable heart.

This was a very good post! Thank you for sharing it!

-LR

Lilac Bud Gal said...

Martha Joy,
Thank you very much for your comment. It was extremely encouraging to read your thoughts and what you had been reading this week! Of course your comment was NOT too long. :) I don't think comments can ever be 'too long' (at least, that is my opinion.. lol!)

May,
Thank you so much, dear friend!! Your comment was extremely encouraging! It made me want to do even better this week at reading my Bible, just to defy the enemy. I will let you know that I am not very willing.. in fact, it usually takes me a while to actually gulp down my 'medicine' and 'get better', so to speak.. ;)

Seeking to Follow,
Thank you very much for your comment and wonderful idea about reading the bible! I will definitely try that. :)

Mary Ann,
Thank you so very much for your sweet comment and words of encouragement! :)

Lady Rose,
Oh, so true!! How many times I have wanted to wallow in self pity and not get out of the mire and clean myself and move on! Thank you for your words of wisdom. :)

Samantha said...

Hi Sarah,
What a wonderful, encouraging post.
I struggle with this kind of thing a lot, mostly because I am a bit of a perfectionist, so when those around me seem to not care if things are messy, or out of line, I tend to get a bit upset, and feel like no one else cares about these little things.
But then I try to remind myself that God has created each of us special and unique in our own way.
He made me to enjoy organization, while He also made some of my family members not care as much.
And instead of getting upset, and wishing everyone would just be like me, I must realize that God has put these things in my life to try me and test me, and see if I will react in a way that is honoring to Him.
Sadly, I don't always think like this, and most times do get upset, and have a sour attitude.
Sometimes it just seems so hard to be joyul in EVERYTHING, even the things that bother and upset us.
But as the verse Martha Joy commented on (Mark 10:27), we can't be truly joyful and happy without God's help. We can TRY to be good, and happy, and joyful, but it is only when we come to truly love and obey Jesus that we find that we can actually have these characteristics in us, even when the going gets tough.

I hope you don't mind the long post- I can be wordy sometimes. =)

I will pray that your Bible reading goes better this week.
Please pray for me in this same area, that I wouldn't just read my Bible to read it, and say that I got it read, but that it would truly touch my life,speak to me, and grow me in my Christian walk.
Thanks!

Love,
Samantha

Lilac Bud Gal said...

Oh, Samantha, I definitely know what you mean! Though, in an opposite way.. lol! I am not a perfectionist.. in fact, I am usually the one that has to constantly clean my room to keep the clutter under control. It used to make me SO mad when one of my siblings (who IS a perfectionist) would always get onto me for not picking up. Wow, what a great way for Satan to create anxiety between siblings, eh? He certainly does know how to make us forget Who we are serving and HOW we should be serving by giving us distractions to bicker and worry about instead!
Thank you so much for your comment, dear friend! It was definitely an encouragment to me. I am glad, also, that you were encouraged by this post. May God have the Glory.
I will certainly be praying for you in that area, as you can please do for me. Just don't get discouraged if God doesn't give you some big 'WOW!' sort of message when reading! He doesn't always do that. :)
Much love you to, dear one!!
Oh, and your comment was NOT too long. Remember, I LOVE long comments! ;)