Pardon Me: I’m in Training to Be Not Grumpy

When I was pregnant with Abel, my dad gave me a chapter out of a Merlin Carother’s book titled “Good-bye Grumblings” which dealt with praising God for all things that God allows to come into our lives.  I told Dad that it was a fairly bold move to give such a chapter to a very pregnant woman with a highly active toddler (me, grumble?).  🙂

The author talked about how God is all omni (knowing, present, powerful); everything that comes into our lives is allowed by God (as we are cupped in the palm of His hand, it passes through His fingers) and is for our good.  The object/experience might not necessarily be a good thing, but if we accept it (without grumblings – oy, the hard part), God uses it to transform us more into the image of Christ for the sake of others.  Graham Cooke says it another way, that “God allows in His wisdom what he could easily prevent by His power.”  My head acknowledges this, but the heart is another thing . . .

What a beautiful picture seeing someone live this out!  But the true beauty and value only comes as you know the journey . . . the hardship . . . the suffering that has been experience.  I never watch The Office:  it’s funny, but it’s SO awkward that I squirm before getting to the humor.  Same with viewing someone who’s living out a normal (i.e. not normal) Christian life:  it’s beautiful, but it’s so costly.  Can I hold my gaze long enough to be transformed, or will I become to embarrassed or ashamed and avert my eyes?

Brother Yun shares:

We have also come to understand that the past thirty years of suffering, persecution and torture for the house churches in China were all part of God’s training for us.  The Lord has perfectly fitted us to go as missionaries to the Muslim, Buddhist and Hindu worlds.

Once I spoke in the West and a Christian told me, “I’ve been praying for years that the Communist government in China will collapse, so Christians can live in freedom.”  This is not what we pray!  We never pray against our government or call down curses on them.  Instead, we have learned that God is in control of both our own lives and the government we live under.  Isaiah prophesied about Jesus, “The government will be on his shoulders.” Isaiah 9:6

God has used China’s government for his own purposes, moulding and shaping his children as he sees fit.  Instead of focusing our prayers against any political system, we pray that regardless of what happens to us, we will be pleasing to God.

Don’t pray for the persecution to stop!  We shouldn’t pray for a lighter load to carry, but a stronger back to endure!  Then the world will see that God is with us, empowering us to live ina way that reflects his love and power.

This is true freedom! (287)

When I share about how I see the current state of the church – Quaker, Emerging, or otherwise – I grumble.  I complain, I accuse, I judge.  But what if I started practicing – training – to see how God is using the state of my world to shape me?  To shape my faith community?  To shape the larger church?  Conforming it more into the image of Christ for the sake of others?

During this political season, what if we took Brother Yun’s stance?  That would be radical, eh?

So how do we train?  He only mentioned it casually, but I think Brother Yun hit right at the heart:

When believers focus on serving the Lord and reaching the lost, God blesses them and the church remains sharp.  When we become self-centered and critical of each other, Satan has won already and the church will become a blunt, useless instrument. (289)

A praising, sharp instrument, or a grumbling, blunt object.  Hmmm . . .

How are you being trained?

4 thoughts on “Pardon Me: I’m in Training to Be Not Grumpy

  1. Michelle

    Wow, this is great Aj. Learning the fine art of gratefulness is something that I’m still developing. I often find myself grumbling, not really in any sort of deep exasperation, but merely as a form of expression. The problem with grumbling out loud is that others don’t know your inner being and thoughts. What can sound like severe disgust or frustration on the outside, might truly be just a “you got me in a bad moment” moment. Sometimes our grumblings come out in a burst of emotion only to be tempered later by prayer and internal discussion. Too often I believe the world focuses on what’s wrong instead of “how can I make it right/better.” Whether this is tackling the day’s laundry with a good attitude, trying to instill a deeper more thoughtful more engaging church service, or fixing the problems with our government- you are right on, we could all do better with less grumbling.

  2. Robin M.

    Man. After I spent half the night last night bemoaning my fate. Now you have to rub it in my face that I ought to be looking for ways to be grateful and to grow.

    You know what? I really am grateful for your reminder. Thanks.

  3. Mike

    I like this line: “We shouldn’t pray for a lighter load to carry, but a stronger back to endure!”

    I have often asked God for help, meaning “get me out of this”. You remind me of an important difference… it’s not “get me out”, but “help me through…”

    thanks!

  4. Jill

    This is so counter cultural, unamerican–not complaining, it is to release our “right” to something–a peaceful day or least 20 minutes, a printer that works right when you need it, to get to do/have/see what we want when we want. I find I can often justify complaining in the name of my “rights”. I don’t recall Jesus ever saying anything about rights though…

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