I had a bad week last week. The week was not bad in the sense that anything bad happened. It was bad in the sense that I could have done some things differently, and the Lord spent the week reminding me that I should have done a few things differently.
It started at Best Buy. I had purchased some electronic components a few weeks earlier. Actually, it was 20 days earlier. I know it was 20 days earlier because the nice (I’m being a little sarcastic) lady behind the customer service counter told me when I arrived and asked to return the items that Best Buy had a 14 day return policy. So…I got mad…not at the lady, but at myself. The items sat on my desk for all those days. The day I purchased them I discovered they were not correct. I let them sit on my desk thinking, “I’ll take them back tomorrow.” Tomorrow finally came 19 days later. I suppose it would profit a guy to read the receipt, but seriously, who actually reads receipts? I probably leave a ton of free and discounted stuff on the table because I don’t read receipts or log on and take the surveys they ask us to take.
I was mad at myself. First, for not reading the receipt and knowing Best Buy had a 14 day return policy, but I was also mad at myself for not returning the items sooner. They sat on my desk waiting to be returned. I had no excuse for not doing it sooner except that things just get pushed to the side on my desk, and I forgot (if you’ve seen my desk, you know how easy that is). The problem is that my anger presented itself in my interaction with the lady at the customer service counter. I became terse in my responses to her questions. I acted inconvenienced at her requests. Oh! I didn’t make a scene, but it was obvious I was perturbed. The more imposed upon I acted, the more imposed upon she acted…and, it was all my fault! It wasn’t my finest hour, and to make it worse, Vanessa witnessed the entire episode…which only made me more mad…at myself. Then, I got mad for being mad. It was a downward spiral.
The Holy Spirit began to work on me even before I left the store. I knew why I was angry, but even so, I did my best to make it someone else’s fault. I blamed the policy. “What a stupid policy,” I thought. “She could be nicer about it,” I said in my mind. “Just take the stupid things back,” is what I was really wanting to say. Each one of those thoughts was rooted in one more overwhelming thought—“Well, you idiot, if you’d just read the receipt and gotten off your duff and returned the items sooner this wouldn’t be happening.” The responsibility landed on my plate, and I didn’t like acknowledging that fact. The Holy Spirit was present to remind me (so, too, was Vanessa–yes, the Holy Spirit works through our spouses).
The Holy Spirit continued to work on me over the next several days. The Spirit first spoke through a book I was reading entitled The Spiritual Danger of Doing Good, by Peter Greer. One chapter dealt specifically with how we look to other people, and that one motivation for our doing good is because of how it makes us look to others. We’re more concerned about how doing good makes us look than actually doing good for goodness sake. The rebuke for me came because I was concerned that MY mistake made ME look bad, and I was more concerned with looking bad than I was about being good. Pride got the best of me, and I needed to repent.
The Spirit next spoke through my devotional time with A. W. Tozer. Two brief sentences from Tozer pricked my heart and have stayed with me since:
- “We have become experts in other people’s shortcomings but quite naive about our own personal standing with God.”
- “Too often, we are guilty of accepting in ourselves what we vehemently condemn in others.”
Tozer’s words spoke to my own shallow faith, and of my need for God’s grace. Conviction came as I realized I too easily and too quickly surrendered to the sin that is in me, than to the Savior who died for me. The disciple’s life is a daily surrender to the One who surrendered Himself on the cross for me. I surrendered alright, but not in the right way.
Finally, through Scripture I was reminded that even on my worst days, the love of God is still present. It came later in the week, but I was prompted to read Romans 8, and there in verses 38-39 I found comfort:
38 And I am convinced that nothing can ever separate us from God’s love. Neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither our fears for today nor our worries about tomorrow—not even the powers of hell can separate us from God’s love. 39 No power in the sky above or in the earth below—indeed, nothing in all creation will ever be able to separate us from the love of God that is revealed in Christ Jesus our Lord.
There are a few lessons I’ve learned:
- I’m not nearly as good as I think I am.
- I’m not always as bad as I think I am.
- Not even my pride can keep God from loving me.
- Even my bad weeks are not really all that bad.
- Daily surrender to Jesus Christ is the key to being a faithful disciple.
Perhaps my experience will help you not have such a bad week. Oh, and yes, Best Buy let me return the items (in spite of my attitude).
Until next time, keep looking up…