Bad Day for a Good Lesson

Francois Fenelon rightly said, “A man’s self is his greatest cross.”

What is the self? It is that which scripture refers to as the “old man.” A person’s self is that part of his being which he most easily, and naturally, identifies with. You know him as you. I know him as me. And yet, he is neither you nor me. The fallen self is part of a creation that died with Christ on the cross and is no more. But it’s just so hard to believe that, especially on days like today, for me at least, when the fallen self, the old man, or the sin which dwells in my body (whichever you want to call it), seems so very much alive.

But he is not alive. Not on my good days and not on my bad days. “I” was crucified with Christ a long, long time ago.

Perhaps the hardest thing to see, though, and yet one of the most important, is that it is ourselves which is the cause of all our hard times and difficulties in life. Difficulties in relating to other people, in getting along with others, in having a good time despite bad circumstances. It is not the outward things we think are causing us all the trouble, it is really ourselves which those outward things are playing upon.

Can you say amen to that? If so, I dare say you are on the road to deliverance. Deliverance from the tyranny of your (and my) self.

This morning has been a rough one for me. I stayed up late last night and woke up early this morning, so I was cranky. Still am, to be honest. Kids are running around like crazy, fighting, yelling, ect. I feel put out by the needs of other people. All I want is my personal space, some quiet time. A few moments to do what I want to do and not what other people need me to do. Sound familiar?

Then as I was sitting here groveling I saw very clearly that none of these outward things is my problem. Rather, it is myself. Things are not my problem, and not even you are my problem, no matter how much you annoy me. 😉 No, I am my own problem. Nothing and no one else.

We think of deliverance in terms of outward things. We think in terms of, “God, take this annoying person out of my life,” or, “God, remove this difficult circumstance.” But the only reason these kinds of things trouble us is that there is something in us which is so easily troubled. And God is much more interested in transforming us from within, saving us from the tyranny of a fallen life that has no ability to relate to other people, overcome adversity, ect., than He is in delivering us from our bothersome circumstances into an insulated, bubble-like existence that demands no faith and patience at all on our own part.

Try to remember this the next time you have a conflict with someone or your daily circumstances are making you miserable. Allow me to warn you, though, it’s almost certain you’ll forget. We all do. So consider this a friendly reminder. Next week it will be your turn to remind me. 🙂

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About Joshua

Writer, husband, father, friend. View all posts by Joshua

10 responses to “Bad Day for a Good Lesson

  • Michael Young

    Great post and a good reminder.
    I get most of my frustration at work. I get irritated that people walk in the front door when I’m trying to do something (I lease apartments), I get irritated when someone comes in complaining about something I can do absolutely nothing about. It’s very easy to say, “Lord, why can’t I have an easier, more laid back job!?” But instead, I must remember that the Lord has me here for a reason. Not to make me a better person, but instead to lead me into Christ. To kill more and more of self, and allow more and more of Christ to live in me.
    A good brother and best friend told me a few days ago, as he himself was going through some major trials, “Michael, everything in your life right now, is there to lead you to Christ. EVERYTHING.” That speaks so volumes.
    Thanks for the post.

  • Katie Wehrheim

    yeah, you’re right. Definitely not what i always want to hear, but true nonetheless. And getting depressed about “me” being the problem is definitely not the answer either…as you said “i” was crucified with Christ. Believing that is where the answer is. Stepping into the Life and dance of the Trinity…Who fellowship together inside of us

  • lawdawg23

    Exactly! Thanks for the comment, by the way. Much nicer than your last one. 😉

  • craig

    Josh.. i read this post and just sighed a long, emptying sign of conviction, understanding and some frustration that those moments don’t completely go away. I read a good little book of reflections by Anthony DeMello called “The Way To Love” in which he talks a lot about this subject. We give people too much power and control over us and our emotions by blaming them for our circumstances or moods. In fact, if we realized that the problem begins and ends with us than we would cease to be so bothered by other people and see them for what they are.. flawed human beings, just like you and me.

  • lawdawg23

    Absolutely, Craig. Giving people that kind of control over our lives does nothing good for either us or them. Life in a broken world is hard enough without making it more difficult on each other in all the ways we do.

  • George Dunn

    it is never somebody else that is the problem. You’re right…i am my problem or as POGO said “We have seen the enemy and he is us.”

    i also like what Epictetus said: “Men are disturbed not by things, but by the view which they take of them.”

    Nice Article

  • lawdawg23

    Thanks, George. Love the quotes.

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