Tuesday, September 07, 2010

Annoyance, then repentance

NOTE: written July 5, 2010
A few decades ago, I was feeling bummed about something -- probably a girl -- and a wise friend gave me this passage from Isaiah 58:
...if you spend yourselves in behalf of the hungry 
and satisfy the needs of the oppressed, 
then your light will rise in the darkness, 
and your night will become like the noonday. 
And the Lord will guide you continually 
and satisfy your desires in a sun-scorched land 
and make your bones strong. 
You will be like a well-watered garden, 
like a spring whose waters never fail. 
Isaiah 58.10-11
The point, of course, is that the best thing to do when feeling depressed is to extend myself on someone's behalf.

I did not like this advice; I was feeling depressed and didn't feel like doing anything for anyone else. I held my tongue and brooded on it. But not long afterward, I came to my senses and acted on my friend's advice. It worked! I've actually repeated this many times -- I mean serving when I feel down.

This came to mind when the lovely Carol told me about yesterday's 11:05 Café service. After the sermon (mp3 should appear here soon), the Café pastor, the one and only Dave Peterson, remarked that he had gotten angry when he heard a sermon like this some time back.

"But it was OK for me to feel angry then," he said, "and it's OK for you to feel angry now." (Quotes are approximate; you're getting them 3rd hand.)

I think that was brilliant because it acknowledges our human tendency to react defensively and resist the truth -- for a while. Dave also encouraged us to move past our fleshly tendencies. It's OK to feel angry or annoyed or vexed or misunderstood -- for a while. We do of course need to move past our sinful tendency; we need to repent, to accept the truth, to embrace the changes that the Lord is directing us to.

What a terrific model for me: to accept and acknowledge that people sometimes react badly to good advice (I resemble that remark myself) and yet urge and encourage them to move past that, to come to their senses and listen to the Holy Spirit, to repent of blaming and self-pity and selfishness and defensiveness and stubbornness.

To turn from the way of death to the way of life.

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