PATHWAY TO HIS PRESENCE
I wonder if God ever thinks about adding a PS to His Ten Commandments, preceded by one simple explanation: “Since I already know you won’t obey these ten, try this one: P.S. Get over yourself
Some of the phrases that attach to that statement, like ribbons flying behind a kite, are “Me first,” “My way,” “Notice me,” “Hear me,” and “Why me?” Right now, before even reading further, you may already be thinking of someone – maybe more than one – whose shoulder chip is so large and whose emotional scar so heavy that those phrases follow them daily, their “woe is me” clapping in the wind like a clanging symbol. These people have one thing in common. They will
be noticed. They demand it as they lead their daily parade of notoriety with the deafening drumbeat of their own self-centeredness.
When these people were children, we expected this. Paul, a scholar as an adult, even expected it of himself, evidenced in his words from first Corinthians 13. “When I was a child, I thought like a child, I reasoned like a child. When I became a man, I put away childish things.”
Of course, I’m not writing this to you. (You didn’t really think that, did you?) I am writing to those people who whine, blame, and complain because life does not always go their way. They never got the memo that said, “Life is not easy. Grow up, or you won’t make it.”
Instead of singing, “Let’s just praise the Lord,” they sing, “Let’s just blame the Lord.” Blaming, after all, seems so much more in tune with reality than praising. Instead of seeking to be a saint, they are more comfortable with complaint. Rather than expecting things to be fine, they only know how to whine.
The truth is that people of the world do not have a market on whining. Christians are very good at it, too. Unfortunately, we closely mimic the world while at the same time negating our witness. Paul reminds us that we have a higher calling when he writes in Philippians 2:14-15, “Do everything without complaining or arguing, so that you may become blameless and pure, children of God without fault in a crooked and depraved generation in which you shine like
stars in the universe…”
Paul defined his generation as being crooked and depraved. Yet he expected Christians to outshine the crookedness, to shine like stars. Those persons who have made a mark on Christianity have learned to get over themselves and to seek the higher good – of shining into the darkness of this world, despite their circumstances.
Amy Carmichael was one such person. Born in Ireland in 1867, Amy went to India as a missionary. There she began to rescue temple children from forced prostitution. You have likely heard of her. She served in India for 56 years without furlough and authored 35 books. She was an unlikely candidate for mission work, as she suffered from a disease of the nerves, neuralgia that made her whole body weak and achy and often put her in bed for weeks. When she was 63, she was badly injured in a fall, which left her bedridden much of the time until her death at 83. From her bed, her missionary work continued for the next 20 years to the children taken in temple prostitution.
She had reason to whine, blame, and complain, but Amy Carmichael chose the higher road, the road that leads to life eternal. You and I must choose that same road, for none of us is without reason to complain. Choose the high road of positive thinking and encouragement to others, so that our generation, being crooked and depraved, will have someone to look up to, someone to guide them over the rough and hard places of life. This cannot be done without a sold-out commitment to Jesus. Amy received a letter from a young woman considering missionary life. She asked, “What is missionary life like?” Amy wrote back only these few words. “Missionary life is simply a chance to die.”
Amy served more than 1,000 children who would have otherwise faced a bleak future. Her ministry would have crumbled under whining, blaming, and complaining. The work of Christ is serious business and can only be done by people who have heard the PS of God. Committed to the goal of making disciples, we must die to self, put away our childish things, and get over ourselves.
Maybe you can share this article with those persons who come to mind, present company, of course, excluded.
The Rev. B.J. Funk is associate pastor of Central UMC in Fitzgerald. Email Rev. Funk at email@example.com.