As I reported a few days ago, one of my goals for writing "The Remnant" is to live the story first, then write about it. I now know that this is definitely a God-goal. This story is all about what the Church Body of Jesus Christ is to be doing in these last days. God wove a bunch of threads together with a heavy hand this week.
I bought the book "How to Win Friends and Influence People" by Dale Carnegie. I bought it for my son. Like me as a youth, he is shy and introverted. I knew about this book since I was a kid but never read it. As a Christian I avoided it for what seemed like obvious reasons gleaned from the title alone. On Wednesday morning I read chapter one. The point - never criticize or complain. Many of the stories hit home with me as God brought to mind many incidents of such behavior on my part. But that was not heavy enough.
I kept thinking about them the next two days. I bit my tongue raw to keep my mouth shut. More reminders at work and home flooded into my mind. Though I didn't speak a word of complaint or criticism that last two days, mind mind was equally raw with trying, not as successfully, to think such thoughts.
At lunchtime I read the internetmonk. This post was another of God's heavy handed blows from out of nowhere. Now I understand why brother Jeff has been having as tough, if not a tougher time of it than me since we met last May at a writer's conference.
This afternoon I had to make a side-trip to the grocery store on the way home from work. As I entered the store I recognized a friend from church. Ernie (not his real name) is an older man I have known for many years. He works where I work - as a janitor. He is a sweet Christian man. He is kind of slow in speech and you never know what he will talk about when you meet him. His eyes sparkle with gentleness. His hands are massive and when you expect a crushing handshake, he instead is soft but firm.
I hurried past him with a smile and quick "hello" and quickly gathered the few things I needed. I had plans for this afternoon with my son and did not want to be late.
We've had a lot of snow where I live this year. Eight inches fell Monday night. Folks around here don't know how to drive in the snow anymore and that just drives me nuts. I can complain up a storm bigger than the blizzard when I get stuck behind a slowpoke who doesn't understand the physics of driving on ice.
I pulled out of my parking spot at the grocery and headed for the exit. Not so fast. With nowhere to get around him, I was stuck behind another putz. That's when God's heavy hand sunk me down deep in my seat.
What if it's some old person? What if they really are scared? So what if they shouldn't be out here. They are. That's reality. Maybe it was an emergency and they needed medicine? It could be anything. The point was, I had no idea. God was just putting me in the other person's shoes. Would you like to be the recipient, that driver in front of you, and hear what just came out of your mouth? I'm sure Ernie wouldn't. Sure enough, it was him. Poor, slow, can't help it Ernie. My friend.
God is reaching out to me asking for repentance. Not just sorry for the complaints and criticism, but true repentance. A change of mind.
Chapter two of the book is all about that - offering praise. Nothing less. Stop thinking about yourself and think about the other guy. Encourage him. Build him up. Help him feel important. Lots more examples about raising kids brought more memories of just how bad I have screwed up so far.
I have forty-nine years of screw-up to repent from. Please Jesus. I want to be that new man, no more an Ebenezer Scrooge but the man who woke up to a new morning and knew without a doubt he was different, filled with the spirit every day of the year. Please Jesus. Please.