Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Shine Like Stars!

Words That Heal - Chapter 3: "Woe is Me!"

"Do everything without complaining or arguing,
so that you may become blameless and pure,
children of God without fault in a crooked and depraved generation,
in which you shine like stars in the universe
as you hold out the word of life..."
(Philippians 2:14-16)

Complaining almost seems to be the language of this world. Think about the conversations around you everyday ... people complaining about their job, about the slow person in front of them, about the guy who cut them off in the car, about the cold weather, and the list goes on.

It is an easy way to start up a conversation with a perfect stranger, to find a connection to those around you. It is almost necessary to "fit in." But we are called to stand out ... like bright starts ... and there is no better way than saturating our speech with contentment and thanksgiving.

In this chapter, Carole points out that our complaining stems from a lack of contentment and true thanksgiving. Too often our prayers are "Thank you, Lord, for ... but I really need ..." We compare ourselves with others, and want what they have instead of focusing on all that we have been given.

I feel like this could have been taken a step further ... that our grumbling and complaining is also an expression of our own lack of faith, our unbelief. Do we think God hasn't or isn't going to provide all we need? Do we think He won't care for us? Do we think the gift of his own Son not sufficient for our peace? Have we simply forgotten that we have been given so much?

In the Old Testament, we follow the Israelites through their desert journey, wandering in circles, going from high points faith and miraculous provision to low points of grumbling and unbelief.

When God first delivered them from Egypt, they put their faith in God as he led them through the sea. But this was soon followed by their grumbling about the food. God then provides manna every day for them. But they soon grumble about the lack of water.

Their complaining and unbelief soon led to their ultimate act of disobedience and unbelief ... they grumbled about the "giants" and refused to enter the promised land. It took 40 years in the desert for them to finally learn their lesson. Do we want to repeat that mistake?

Toward the end of this chapter, Carole provides a wonderful exercise to help us develop an attitude of contentment and thanksgiving:
Look up three things in Scripture and find three things in your life for which you are thankful. Each morning add one more to these lists, from both Scripture and your blessings. Use these in your prayers of thanksgiving, and ask God to give you the strength (and daily reminder) to be content.
Of all the topics covered in this book, this is the one lesson I feel God has "put his finger on." I have not been thankful for all that he has given me, and I need to learn to be content ... in every situation (Phil 4:11-12). I want to shine like a star, not blend into the decaying darkness all around me.

"Lord, forgive me for my complaining words, for my attitude of discontent, for my lack of gratefulness, for my unbelief. Thank you that you continue your work in my life; that even when I am faithless, you remain faithful. Teach me to rejoice in you. Provide me the strength to be content, whatever the circumstances, and to be thankful for all that you have given me. Remind me each day, and reveal more deeply, that you are truly all I want and all I need."

I am currently reading Words That Hurt, Words That Heal by Carole Mayhall.
Check out the other posts in this series.

No comments: