By Jacqi Ballough
The text came through fairly early one morning, “I’m having a pretty bad day so far. My child is really pushing my buttons. He’s having a hard time honoring me and the rules. It’s not looking like we will make it over. I am incredibly sorry. I’m really struggling with this.”
We had been looking forward to spending time with our friends for weeks, but I totally felt for my friend. In fact, I was struggling with the same circumstance. How is it one person can bring us to our knees and seemingly wreck our day because of their attitude?
I responded, “It’s okay. My son is acting the same. Give reasonable consequences and be consistent. They need to learn that it is their choice to receive a reward, which comes from honoring others, or consequences. It’s free will. Keep smiling. Put on God’s armor and praise music. Remember his misery doesn’t have to be yours. Pray for wisdom. The right answer will come from the Lord.”
As I read my response, I realized it came from the Lord, not me. I had not attacked my issues at hand with such truth, yet the Lord used my friend’s need to bring truth to my situation as well.
In those moments of conflict, I find I have taken my eyes off the Lord and placed them on man. I am being dependent on a person to meet my needs and be my source of joy instead of God. Therefore, I have created an idol.
Adam and Eve did this in the Garden of Eden. (Genesis 3:1-19) Eve took her eyes off the entire garden the Lord had given her and began focusing on the one fruit God specifically told her not to eat.
She openly listened to lies, was deceived, and then approached her husband asking him to also eat of the one forbidden fruit. It was free will. She could have walked away from the serpent singing praises to God for his wonderful creation, but she chose otherwise. Adam could have stood firm and said “no,” leaving Eve to face the consequences of her actions alone, yet he placed all of his faith in Eve as he ate the fruit.
They had the choice to obey or not, face life walking with God in the Garden or separation. We have the same choice now. We can keep our eyes on the Lord or selfishly place them on others.
“We have this consolation with us, that the harder the conflict, the more glorious the triumph.” (Thomas Paine, “The American Crisis,” Common Sense. 1776)
Lord, thank you for being my source of joy. Forgive me for the times I willingly give it up to those around me. With you, I know I can set healthy boundaries and respond to conflict with the Fruit of the Spirit you gave me. Help me stay grounded in your Word. Give me your eyes to discern daily circumstances clearly and keep me focused on you.