Out of the Abundance of the Heart

Wednesday, July 27, 2016

Building People of Substance for Works of Power

Let’s play the hand we’re dealt, Friend.

Many years ago, I heard T. L. Osborne say something to this effect: “I am not moved by the criticism or the praise. That way I am not at the mercy of the last person I talked to.” That seemed pretty wise to me at the time, and 35 years of ministry have made it seem even more so. One of the most important steps in learning to live a free and joyous Christian life is learning to take responsibility for my own emotional well-being. Ever since Adam blamed Eve for his sin in the Garden (Genesis 3:12), humans have been prone to blame others for their circumstances, their feelings, and even their actions. For some things we blame God: He made me that way. For others we blame accidents of birth: our genes, our citizenship, our family structure. Often we simply blame the mysterious “they.” The system is rigged against me, they are out to get me, so there is no use in trying to do anything to improve my lot. No matter who or what I blame, even if my judgment is accurate, the moment I allow myself to embrace that victimized status, I have given control of my life to someone else.

So if I can’t allow myself to blame outside forces or people for my state, what do I do? As tough as it may be, I have to take a close look at myself. What did I do to help create this mess? What attitudes do I hold that prevent me from getting out of it? Who have I hurt along the way? What is in my power to change? I am reminded of the familiar prayer attributed to Reinhold Niebuhr:

God, grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change,

Courage to change the things I can,

And wisdom to know the difference

I cannot change the past. I can’t change other people. I can change my own attitudes and actions beginning right now. Fortunately, that is enough to free me from most of the things that bind me, that baffle me, and that cause me distress.

Somebody Said: “Whining is not only graceless, but can be dangerous. It can alert a brute that a victim is in the neighborhood.” – Maya Angelou

Scripture Reading: As iron sharpens iron, so a friend sharpens a friend. (Proverbs 27:17 NLT)

Life is not “fair”. My hand is determined by who designed the deck, by where I sat at the table, and by pure chance. I have little or no control over any of these things. I can control how I play the hand. Cursing the dealer only tells my opponents the weak nature of my hand.

Virgil Stokes

FCF of Tucson
3141 W. Ironwood Hill Dr.
Tucson, AZ 85745

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