Monday, October 27, 2008

Make a choice

Matthew 5:38-42 in The Message says

"Here's another old saying that deserves a second look: 'Eye for eye, tooth for tooth.' Is that going to get us anywhere? Here's what I propose: 'Don't hit back at all.' If someone strikes you, stand there and take it. If someone drags you into court and sues for the shirt off your back, gift wrap your best coat and make a present of it. And if someone takes unfair advantage of you, use the occasion to practice the servant life. No more tit-for-tat stuff. Live generously."

I have been running a lot. On the treadmill, I try to get a couple days a week in with some strength work. I have been blessed with the luxury of time to do it while the girls are at school. Since I hurt my foot, my hips and back have been messed up and I haven't been able to get them adjusted as I don't know any chiropractors here in T&T, so I will wait till Christmas. In the meantime - I actually HAVE to work out or I wake up sometimes not able to bend over with severe pain in my lower back. It's all sciatic nerve and related muscles, so I just try to keep it loose.

This morning, I challenged myself. I put the treadmill on 45 minutes, put a towel over the screen and let the music of Warren Barfield, TobyMac and others fill my ears and my head with thoughts of faith and The Lord. The first song I heard, which I ended up listening to about 5 times, is "Love is not a fight" by Mr. Barfield. The chorus is "No, love is not a fight but it's worth fighting for." I had lots of thoughts about Christ, what He did for me, Dave, how far our marriage has come, etc. It was a great run. I ran stronger and farther than I have in a long time. Little did I know the message of that song would play itself out in my own life.

But I have to stretch immediately after. A run like that does a number on me, I get really tight, so I have to bend over and touch my toes for a long time so I can walk without cramping. I'm sure I look ridiculous, but I long ago stopped caring what I look like because if I worried about it - I would never do it. And I was using a piece of equipment to assist. I'm stretching out and admittedly, my rear is sticking out. It's the nature of the stretch.

I look over after coming up out of it to stretch my quads and notice a woman, her trainer and the janitor all laughing heartily. And then I noticed what they were laughing about. Me and my stretch. They were openly making fun of me. These are complete strangers who feel the need to imitate and joke - at me. They were not pointing but all were looking at me and, well, cracking up. These are 2 grown men and a grown woman. I was, in a word, stunned. To add insult to injury - the trainer then proceeded to gruffly state he needed the machine I was using.

I had a choice. If I'd been smart, I might have said "No, you will just have to wait, jack-ass." (which is what I felt like, frankly) I could call them to the carpet on what they were doing, I could embarrass them back, I could start to cry. There were about 1,000 different reactions I could have had and in the eyes of the world, would have been justified. All would have left me later seeking solace, forgiveness and justification by telling everyone I know about the situation.

But I didn't. I smiled and picked up my stuff, said "Ok, thanks." I walked away and finished my stretching. Then I promptly texted the whole situation to my husband. I ended my text with "I'm trying to pray for them but it's hard."

It is. Everything Jesus has called me to do can be very difficult when you are being faced with insult and hurt. What happened to me today is nothing compared to the persecution happening to Christians around the world, but in that moment, The Holy Spirit gave me the grace to smile and walk away. I actually did pray for them later - in Jesus's own words - "forgive them Lord, they don't know what they are doing and please keep them safe."

This is light years away from where I was even a year ago. This process of faith, belief and loving Jesus more than anything else makes me struggle. But today was an object lesson in what I taught the 3rd & 4th graders yesterday. I told them to remember, as shown in the life of Joseph, God specializes in making beauty out of ugliness. I don't know if they got it and I don't know what God will make out of the ugliness shown to me today, but I believe in Him, so I have faith that He will do something with it.

We have influence in what happens in Heaven, not the other way around. They watch us, and God directs our steps. I just have to be still and know He is God and He will take care of the rest. "Love will come to save us, if we will only call. He will ask nothing from us, but demand we give our all."

It's tough stuff. It's exactly what Jesus was saying though in the verse in Matthew. Someone slaps you, give him the other cheek. Walk away - do not retaliate. Vengeance is The Lord's. Today I had the strength to stand there and take it. That doesn't make me a hero or any better than anyone else. If anything, it makes me more grateful to have The Lord in my life. I'm a grown woman, but that still stung, a lot. But I am clinging to His definition of who I am and what He is doing with my life. It humbles me, brings me to my knees in thanksgiving and makes me pray even harder for His continued protection and blessing.

Only in His name am I strong. Today I praise it and pray He will show You exactly who you are in His eyes so you can look past all those people who point and laugh at you. Make a choice - He is the Way, The Truth and The Life so I pray you will come to Know Him and what He thinks about you. His love is worth fighting for.

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