My wife, awesome human being that she is, bought me the coolest Christmas present this Christmas – six of my favorite quotes emblazoned on dictionary paper, framed to match the black desk in my office.
Yesterday, we grabbed a hammer and some nails and set to work putting them up in my office. Now, a little disclaimer here. I’m about the least handy person I know. My comfort zone is a library, not a hardware store. So even having a hammer in my hands was probably my first mistake – nevertheless, I thought it would be a fun little project for the two of us. Some bonding time, maybe!
Fifteen minutes later, after countless measurements, pencil marks on the wall, misplaced nails, and crooked frames, we finally had one of the quotes up. Frustrated but satisfied, we moved on to the second. We made the measurements, marked them with a pencil, and started to put the nails in. But on the second nail, the hammering action dislodged the first picture, sending it crashing to the floor in a number of sad, broken pieces.
At this point, I calmly sat the hammer down and informed my wife that we would continue the project at a later date. Then we gathered the pieces of the broken frame together and went downstairs to watch Netflix.
Except, that isn’t what happened.
Instead, I angrily tossed the hammer onto my office chair, exclaimed how frustrated I was, threw in a few choice words for good measure, and stormed downstairs to mope.
My wife, the calm soul that she is, sternly told me to cut it out, insisted that it wasn’t that big of a deal and that we could do them some other day. She even offered to do them for me because she enjoys that sort of thing and didn’t want me to get frustrated again. After realizing my foolish reaction, I apologized to my wife and we moved on with our evening.
The whole situation got me thinking, though. First, of my sinfulness, and second, of the way real life tends to get in the way of the fantasies that we cook up in our imaginations. In my head, I imagined my wife and I happily putting up my new frames together, enjoying one another’s company and successfully completing a task.
Instead, I was met with frustration and my own sin nature. How often do you find yourself in situations like this? You had an ideal in mind, but life just got in the way somehow. Maybe you had a vacation planned that fell through at the last minute. Maybe you spent weeks preparing a church event that ended up being a total disaster. Maybe you had high hopes of leading a friend to Christ, but they outright rejected the Gospel when you shared it with them. Or maybe you started a new Bible study, eager to faithfully stick to one for once – but two weeks in, you fall apart like you always do. Life (and more specifically, sin) has a way of doing things like that.
But my challenge to you is this: don’t waste those moments.
It’s in those moments – when life doesn’t go the way we plan – that we realize three things: (1) that we truly are not in control of our lives, (2) that this life is broken and that there is a new creation that we are groaning for and (3) that we are utterly incapable of handling life on our own.
When life throws us curveballs – no matter how big or small – we come face to face with the reality that we aren’t calling the shots. Rather, the sovereign Lord of the universe is. It’s when we hit speedbumps that we realize life on this earth will never be what it was originally meant to be until that sovereign Lord of the universe returns to consummate the new creation work He began in Christ. And it’s when we look our true, sinful selves in the face that we understand we are incapable of handling things on our own and we need that sovereign Lord of the universe who is working all things according to the counsel of His will to work in our lives to keep us together until glory.
It’s in the moments that don’t go as planned that we must preach the Gospel to ourselves, believe that Gospel, accept the new mercies Christ offers us, and keep striving.
Some days (most days, lately) it’s a fight for me to believe the promises of the Gospel – that a holy God can truly and completely forgive me not only of my past sins, but of all my daily failures, picture frame fiascoes and all. But God’s Word tells me it’s true and I must preach it to myself every day.
You must do the same! Stay in the fight, face the reality of this messy life, and keep believing the Gospel!
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