I knew that he would be coming this fall. He always does. My husband and I had an honest talk one day which resulted in me as kindly as possible putting my foot down and refusing that he will ever stay with us. We used to host him. As local team leaders, we always hosted the bigger team leader. I eventually realized that I am under no obligation to do so and that it was not healthy for me. Instead, I chose my favorites of those coming to host.
But he was coming. The events of this spring were doubly hard because of the actions of this man, and his reactions to the crisis resulted in us being thrown to the sharks when we were wounded rather than receiving help. So I knew that facing him this fall was going to be extremely hard.
I am not a pretender. I detest having to pretend. It is just not me. I am also rarely rude. I am usually very nice to this person - extremely nice. Why? Because that is who I am - not because he has earned it, but because I chose not to let him dictate to me who I will be. I refuse to be something I am not just because this person habitually hurts me. But it costs me something. It is difficult.
That was when I picked up this book, "Born for Battle" by Arthur Matthews. It's a good book, very good.
One night, I took the book to bed, thinking I would reread the first chapter and think through it again. All day, a phrase had been repeating in my head. "Discipline accepted, discipline rejected". I had remembered hearing that phrase a long time go, but could not remember where. As I thumbed through the book in bed, I was really surprised to see the phrase in it. Really? It was a chapter title.
Ok... there ought to be a point when I just give in and look suspiciously up at God and bluntly ask, "what are You up to?!" Instead, I just flipped to that chapter to see what it said.
I had read this book back in Bible school with my room-mate. Every night we had read a chapter, discussed it and prayed together. I saw that parts of this chapter was carefully underlined in pencil. I guess back then, that section had spoke to us. Not as much as it spoke to me now, twenty years later...
If we want to be used of God year after year in the place of His appointment, then let us welcome the incompatibilities that toughen spiritual temper and at the same time drive us to the resources of the Life that was laid down for us.
I sat staring at the page very quietly. This was the quiet night before the team was all to arrive the next day.
Then I reluctantly flipped back towards the beginning of the chapter. It talked about Jesus being able to finish His work because He daily accepted discipline. It talked about not just His death at the end of his life, but His daily accepting to continue without sin and not give in to selfishness. The dying to Himself.
"To have relinquished this dying at any point in favor of some escape scheme would have forfeited for Him the right to claim Mission Accomplished."
hmpf. It did not quit there...
"The one who will go through to the end with steady pace is the one who accepts the daily discipline of dying, choosing to renounce and repudiate the competitive voice of self. This is what God seeks from those who serve Him."
hmpf. I kept reading.... a little annoyed, but very, very quiet.. why does He have to be talking about this right now, right now when this man is coming and I can't stand him because he has done wrong which has hurt me?
"...God sends discipline into our lives. It is here that things seem altogether awry. Why does God have to mediate His disciplines through the clumsy and unsympathetic hands of those we dislike and despise and whose authority we resent? We need discipline, granted - but why cannot it be delivered through acceptable channels?"
ugh. Ok. There are times there is not much you can say in answer.... other than, I am wrong. I am seeing this as an "all his problem" type of thing... and it is not to say that he is without fault.... but I am looking at it skewed. I can also look at it as these are the circumstances that God has chosen to put me into.
I have been struggling with God about why He allows this hurt... and can't get past the basic fact that everything that people do that affects me, God knows about it. He could stop it, and He doesn't. And that brings me back to the basic fact that I have to trust God, even when He allows things that I don't like. I had even blogged about Andrew Murray's four stones: .. "in time of trouble, I can say I am here by God's appointment, in His keeping, for His purposes, for His time"....
Straight in my face...even clumsy, despised leader.... even that...
I chose to accept God's sovereignty and acknowledge that in allowing me to go through this, He allowed it for my good, and has purpose in it... Even in this.
Ugh. I did not really like where this late night conversation with God was leading because it led me flat out to a place where I had to accept what hurt me and to continue to live honorably before God accepting both that He put this man in leadership over us with all his faults and He allowed him to act like this in this time....
which then leads me pretty quickly to the place where I have to say that I am wrong - my attitude and my feelings and thoughts towards him are wrong.
Which I knew.
There is a small part of me that protested and says that wrong is still wrong. That struggling with the balance of defending myself and not... But when I view it from the angle that God is fully in charge and is allowing this for good in my life, it is different. It is different than not defending yourself because you don't think you are worth it. It is not defending yourself because you know you are worth the intimate and detailed care of God... that what He is allowing is purposed for good, for discipline, for my good. It is the difference between saying "I don't deserve better" and saying "I know I can trust because You deeply care". So the protest is small because I know I am wrong, and two wrongs don't make something right.
Because in the end, the only behavior I am responsible for is my own. And I am responsible for my own behavior.