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It never fails. Every time I decide to sneak a huge spoonful of peanut butter into my mouth someone inevitably walks into my office and asks me a question. I struggle to gracefully swallow the huge glob quickly but that never goes well. I smack and come dangerously close to choking on it all while appearing to be normal, like I don’t have a massive ball of peanut butter stuck in my throat. But it becomes pretty obvious that I’m almost dying and usually the person starts apologizing. And finally after I recover we both laugh at how ridiculous I am.
Common sense would say, “Hey why don’t you stop eating peanut butter in your office?” But because I’m not always a fan of common sense I don’t listen to it. I just do my own ridiculous thing and suffer the consequences. At least it makes for a good laugh, anyway. Not to mention a stretched out throat as well, which I suppose could be useful in some weird way?
I think I do other sneaky little things like this to in my life that are ridiculous. Like entertain a bad thought that I know God has told me to not dwell on. The kind that I know is wrong but I kinda don’t care so I just allow it to stay there. And then bam, God comes around the corner and there I am with a giant sized spoon full of bitterness or anger or whatever and I was just about to shove it into my mouth when He graciously asks me what the heck I am doing. Well ok He doesn’t say “heck” but He does imply some urgency in His tone. I try and explain that I was just about to delight myself with a little smidge of self pity. Of course He’s not down with that so He tells me to give Him the spoon full of whatever. But I try and explain to him that I really need that spoon full of self pity. I only get one a day and it’s my favorite. But He still says no.
He offers me a nice little assortment tray of grace, love and truth instead. At first I don’t want to make the trade but I start to feel drawn to His tray instead of my spoon. I really would like some grace because I’m tired of feeling overwhelmed with challenges in my life. I’m tired of feeling like I have to be stronger than I feel. I see love on the tray, oozing with affection and beauty like one of those molten chocolate lava cakes and it begins to look irresistible to me. And then there’s truth. The one I always say I want but I find myself running from it a lot. I’m afraid that truth might hurt me somehow, telling me all the things that are wrong with me and pointing out all of my flaws. But not today. Today truth looks very appetizing, like a yummy yogurt parfait with layers of granola and strawberries in it. I can’t resist. I make the exchange, my crappy spoonful of self pity for His extravagant display of affection for me.
And that’s the exchange I could make, should make every day. But some days I don’t. Some days I want to wallow in depression and doubt and sugar coat it with self pity and call that being a Christian. Like it’s some kind of form of superior humility to feel bad about myself. “Here God, here is my offering of self loathing and pity. I offer this worthlessness I feel up to You and I know somehow this will prove that I love you.” What utter ridiculousness!
Especially when it’s so unnecessary. So in essence we try to offer up the very thing that we secretly feast on. That awful spoonful of whatever weaves its way into our thoughts and prayers and pretty soon we are communicating with God and this awful thing is like a fly on the wall. It’s an unwelcome visitor that God knows about but we didn’t even see it there. We just assumed flies are everywhere so what’s the big deal, right?
But He thinks it’s a really big deal and He wants to rid us of it. Because the fly on the wall is something unhealthy we brought into the relationship. The self pity, the bitterness, anger, lust, jealousy whatever it is has to go. Because if He leaves it unchecked it will grow and choke the life out of the relationship. That’s when we feel that little nudge in our heart, you know the one that you feel right when you are about to fly off of the handle at your child for not picking up their shoes by the door for the 400th time. Or that nudge you feel when you were passed over again at work for a promotion and you are on the verge of a full blown pity party complete with cake, balloons and a DJ. Yeah, that’s the Holy Spirit offering to make a deal with you……He’ll trade you that spoonful of anger for His tray of peace. He wants to exchange some joy for your frustration. But the choice is totally up to you. You can continue sneaking that unhealthy stuff into your life but eventually it becomes a poison to your very soul.
Wouldn’t it be nice if we could always blame our bad choices on someone else? Somebody treated us badly so we decided to spend the day moping and depressed. We got trapped in traffic in a construction zone and it made us late to work so now we need to be rude to someone else today to balance the equation. We just need to find a way to sneak some bad behavior or expression into our day so we will feel like we made 2 + 2 =4. Argument with our spouse + shoving a box of cookies down our throat = the problem solved. But it doesn’t. The argument with our spouse plus the sneaky trick of eating cookies actually equals more frustration and a muffin top, not the peace we had hoped for. But, if we have an argument with our spouse we can choose to forego the box of cookies and opt to spend some time exchanging our anger for God’s compassion and end up with grace for our spouse. In both situations the equations balance but one was negative and the other positive. That’s the power God gave us-our choice to involve Him or not. He can balance the equation in a positive way if we choose to ask for His help. We don’t have to sneak spoonfuls of peanut butter as a way to balance the equation and hope we don’t get caught.