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Tuesday, February 22, 2011

"Taking risks in obedience"

I ran across this phrase today in A Call to Die by David Nasser. It's got me thinking.

What am I willing to risk today in obedience to Jesus?

How about you?

Today I risked the very simple risk of not grumbling. I was driving in traffic and drivers around me were being as patient, cautious, and gracious as drivers usually are. So I was grumbling. The Holy Spirit convicted me about my grumbling and I quit. I stopped complaining about the other guy's driving and started worrying about my own driving. I started noticing the day, the fresh snow, the beauty rather than the mud spattering my windshield when someone cut into my lane right ahead of me. (That's what windshield washer fluid is for, right?)

In the silence that followed the cessation of my grumbling I discovered something. I wrap a lot of my identity in my right to grumble. I gain a sense of superiority by criticizing others. I feel more self-righteous and justified if I point out the faults of others.

At the same time, I stopped grumbling about my schedule. I was on my way to a meeting down in the Cities that was inconvenient in my personal schedule, but fairly urgent in the larger picture of things. So I was grumbling about being inconvenienced. And I quit. I realized that my low-intensity resentment about this meeting, or about other things in my schedule, was keeping me from being sensitive to the presence and guidance of the Holy Spirit. Plus, my grumbling kept me entrenched in my old ways of thinking. Grumbling for me is a kind of self-reinforcing behavior in which I keep telling myself that I'm right and the rest of the world is wrong. When I stop grumbling, suddenly I'm open to see other possibilities. I'm able to look at the good in my appointments, my schedule, and (gasp!) in other people's points of view.

What will you risk in obedience to Jesus? He may ask you to quit grumbling, like me. Or he may ask you to take even greater risks -- to start a conversation, maybe, or to bring up a difficult topic, or to apologize for an old hurt. To shovel your neighbor's sidewalk. To volunteer for something at church. To send flowers or write a letter. Who knows?

Take a risk in obedience to Jesus.

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