Much affected. I am much affected by the theology that I cling to. I think some people tend to be more practical in their lives, but I am truly a theoretical person. My theory though, dictates my life. So when I find myself in a church such as Covenant, where together we are striving to believe the Gospel, I am much affected. Over the past month or two, many of our sermons, our small group discussions, and even our casual conversations have centered on the idea of God’s love and mercy toward us. But our talk is not fluffy. No, instead we have reflected upon God’s mercy when He takes away things that we turn into idols. Or how He is faithful to keep us away from things we want that we will ultimately put our trust in. He knows that nothing can satisfy us, nor redeem us, aside from Him. And so in His goodness, He takes things away from us to show us how truly sinful we are. When things are not as I want them, and the “If only” statements begin, I know that my heart is not settled on Him. It is when I hear these words proceeding from my mouth (or even silently in my heart) that I must realize that my head theology has not infiltrated my heart.
I had such a moment recently. I began to see bitterness in my heart. It was ugly. Really ugly. My job is not really the best job. I have learned to survive, but working at a private academy means I don’t get nearly as much vacation as my friends who work at public schools. It seems like every time I turn around, they have a day off, an afternoon off, a day with no classes. At my job, we not only have little vacation, but our time at work is always busy, always hectic, and usually stressful. I realized a few weeks ago that I was beginning to be bitter. When my public school friends would talk about all their great plans for their days off, I would feel my heart harden like a rock. I shrugged off the feelings at first, as if they were normal to feel. Of course I am going to be jealous of my friends.
But it started getting worse. A few days ago, I finally admitted that I was struggling with jealousy and bitterness. And that it wasn’t ok. And then His goodness was poured out. I realized that my situation was a gift. If I am truly content in the Lord, no situation can take that. For He never changes, and His mercies never fail. So no amount of stress at work, no lack of vacation days, nothing nothing nothing can take away my joy in Him. It isn’t wrong to want more vacation days, to want a less stressful job. But my heart had been filled with bitterness. I knew that somehow I had been placing my joy in my circumstances. Because when my circumstances had changed, my joy had faltered.
So I praise God for my job. I praise Him that He gave me a job that shows me exactly where my sin is. I praise Him that He won’t let me stay in a place of selfishness and bitterness. I praise Him because in Him I am satisfied. And when I forget that, He is the One who reminds me. Truly He is good to those who fear Him.