APRIL 9, 2015
"Let your gentleness be evident to all." Philippians 4:5a (NIV)
We all have them. Weak places. Places inside us that make us wonder if we’ll ever get it together like the together people. Places that make us feel "less than" the next girl.
One of those weak places for me has always been my tendency to let my emotions boss me around, especially in conflict.
My deepest desire is to let my "gentleness be evident to all" like our key verse says … but the truth is my reactions haven’t always reflected my desire for gentleness. I really think I was born with firecrackers in my blood.
But when my relationships began to suffer due to my emotionally driven tirades, I found myself crying out to the Lord for help. He prompted my heart to pause and let the Holy Spirit intervene on my behalf when my emotions rallied to be right.
Honestly, I wasn’t totally convinced that this whole "giving it over to God" thing really worked. Until one day I saw the beginnings of my imperfect progress.
A few years ago, my husband Art and I hit a rough place financially. Some investments we’d made went bad and we lost nearly our entire life savings. I was knee deep in caring for three small children at the time and hadn’t a clue that financial danger was looming on the horizon.
That is, until Art came home and the look on his face spoke of utter defeat. How could we have lost so much? He’d been wise with our finances. He’d done his research. He was a faithful saver. I stood stunned in our foyer that day, as Art told me the news.
There were many different directions my reaction could have gone in the minutes that followed. I was upset. When Art first talked of making these particular investments, I shared with him that I didn’t have a good feeling about it. But, in the end, I let him make the final decision.
So many times in my marriage, I’ve chosen the wrong words — words that were tainted with bitterness, words that were emotionally toxic. But I’m so thankful the Lord had been working on preparing my heart for this moment, and instead of reacting immediately with what would have been a disastrous response, I paused. I allowed the Holy Spirit a few seconds to interrupt my natural flesh feelings.
Then, because of God’s Spirit working in me, I was able to wrap my arms around my husband and speak life-giving words into his weary heart: "I love you, Art. I loved you yesterday when we had everything. I love you today when we have nothing. I love you for who you are, not what you have."
Now please understand … I was only able to have this response by God’s grace working in me. I still did quite a bit of wrestling to let my feelings catch up to the gentle words I felt led to speak out loud.
But a few years later, I saw incredible fruit from this one good reaction. Art and I were interviewed on a radio program. On the show Art was asked, "I know you and Lysa had a rough start to your marriage. But what happened that made you know you’d stick by her forever, no matter what?"
Without hesitation, Art recounted my reaction over the lost investments.
I cried. I couldn’t help but think this could have been the moment that saved my marriage.
Had I been left to my own flesh reaction that day, it could have set us on the road to marital disaster. But, because of God’s response being stored up in me, this situation wound up bringing us closer together than we’d ever been.
And I realized how crucial it is to always be aware of God’s preparation in our lives.
One way to be more discerning of this is to commit to exchange whispers with God before shouts with the world every day. Before you check your cell phone or scroll through social media, spend time with Him. Listen for Him. And then go look for rich evidence of Him at work in your life.
Because God stands in our yesterday, today and tomorrow, He sees all. And He knows the perfect way to prepare our hearts for every situation.
When we embrace His preparations, even a girl with firecrackers in her blood like me can have reactions that honor God and breathe life into relationships.
Dear Lord, I’m choosing to let You take control of my reactions. Help me to always exchange whispers with You before shouts with the world. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.
TRUTH FOR TODAY:
Proverbs 29:11, "A fool vents all his feelings, But a wise man holds them back." (NKJV)
Learn more about responding to situations out of your control without acting out-of-control with Lysa TerKeurst’s book, Unglued. Purchase your copy here.
Know some friends who need help with their reactions too? Invite them to join your Unglued Bible study and make imperfect progress together! Get started here.
REFLECT AND RESPOND:
What situation have you been in recently where you could have paused to let the Holy Spirit work on your behalf?
If you didn’t have a good reaction, don’t give up! The beauty of imperfect progress isn’t having it all together right away. It’s allowing the Lord to take you by the hand and lead you through slow steps of progress wrapped in grace.
© 2015 by Lysa TerKeurst. All rights reserved.
Proverbs 31 Ministries
630 Team Rd., Suite 100
Matthews, NC 28105