Thursday, March 28, 2013

Winter in the Spring

Two days ago we got over a foot of snow, and it is supposed to be spring. Did you ever notice how things in life don’t always fit in nice categories? Rarely does everything work out the way we plan for it to unfold. Life is more about how we respond to the unexpected challenges that come our way. If we insist that life must be the way we intended it to be, we will be a high anxiety person. The word flexible is a neat word, and it aptly describes the person who can bend to changing circumstances. The flexible attitude includes people and circumstances. As long as we insist people change to accommodate us, we are in for a very sad life, and as long as we want to order our circumstances, we will be unhappy. The greater question is, “How good are you with people who get under your skin?” or “How good are you with circumstances that you didn’t want?”

There are, of course, many different things that contribute to our being this kind of flexible person. First, being raised in a good home where your parents modeled good behavior and taught you how to live is a big plus. Secondly, having accepted Christ into our lives and having committed to live for him is even more important. Thirdly, having acquired the habit of daily study of his Word and the acquisition of biblical principles is essential. Fourthly, is the desire to grow and mature and make changes in life as they become necessary to accommodate changing circumstances and the people in our lives. Finally, there is the importance of living our lives in cooperation with the Holy Spirit as our teacher and guide through life.

As I was shoveling snow the other day, I was reminded of another occasion when I was fighting a heavy snow.  On that particular day I shoveled snow until I needed a rest and then stepped into a warm room to catch my breath. What a surprise to realize, as the heat began to warm my body, it also brought pain. As long as I was out there in the cold, I didn’t know I was hurting, but aches and pains were felt immediately when I stepped into the heat. It illustrates how we feel conviction of sin when we enter the penetrating presence of God. Only the Holy Spirit can make us fully aware of our sinfulness. When Paul recalled the response of the Thessalonians to the gospel, he said, “… our gospel came to you not simply with words, but also with power, with the Holy Spirit and with deep conviction” (1 Thess 1:5).

If you have a problem controlling your anger or a problem dealing with stressful situations, then ask the Holy Spirit to help you. However, you should be prepared for him to speak to you about specific steps he will ask of you. Our challenge is not so much whether he will speak to us but whether we will enter the warm presence of the Holy Spirit and encounter the pain of what he reveals to us about ourselves. Sometimes we are more comfortable in the cold so that we can keep our senses numbed. God’s presence warms us but also reveals the areas we have to work on.