March 27, 2017
“When they arrived back in Jerusalem, Jesus entered the Temple and began to drive out the people buying and selling animals for sacrifices. He knocked over the tables of the money changers and the chairs of those selling doves, and he stopped everyone from using the Temple as a marketplace.” Mark 11:15-16 (NLT)
I was 41 years old and fighting with my dad like I was 14.
My father wasn’t feeling well and (in my opinion) was a little crabby. I was sore and tired from a 10-hour car ride with three children, so I suppose it’s possible I was a little crabby, too.
We were in the kitchen having breakfast and looking through vacation photos when he started complaining about how he hates looking at photos on phones. “Why can’t people just print off pictures like they used to?”
I reminded him we still live in a world of color printers: “If you want, I’d be happy to make real, live copies for you to hold in your hands.”
Now, that would have been fine. I could’ve stopped there. But no. Since my mouth was already open, I decided to carry on and tell him how terribly negative I thought he’d been for the past week. “Why are you so focused on the bad things, Dad? It’s exhausting. How about trying to comment on the good for a change?”
I continued, and so did my dad. The decibel level got so loud that my husband walked into the room. After about five minutes, I “won.” He apologized and said he would try to be more positive.
But I didn’t win. Because two days later, my dad had a major stroke. He spent a week lying in a hospital bed, then months in a nursing home, unable to move one side of his body or name most of the people who walked into the room.
The guilt was overwhelming. Why didn’t I lead with kindness?
I took my grief to God and opened to a Bible passage I had never noticed before. I realized God was about to teach me through this trial.
Mark 11:11 says, “So Jesus came to Jerusalem and went into the Temple. After looking around carefully at everything, he left …” (NLT)
Four verses later, otherwise known as the next morning, the story continues: “When they arrived back in Jerusalem, Jesus entered the Temple and began to drive out the people buying and selling animals for sacrifices. He knocked over the table of the money changers and the chairs of those selling doves, and he stopped everyone from using the Temple as a marketplace” (Mark 11:15-16).
Did you catch that? Jesus didn’t unleash his fury the first time he saw the Temple. He scoped out the situation, slept on it and then went in the next day with the roundhouse kick.
Raising our voices isn’t out of line. The problem is often our timing. We need to take time to search for the right words so the wrong words — in the wrong decibel — don’t sneak up on us. I don’t know about you, but my relationships would be a whole lot sweeter if I would assess each situation and take the time to decide if it’s worth fighting about. If it is, it’ll still be there tomorrow.
God is good at teaching — and redeeming. My dad is once again well enough to share a meal, breathe words of wisdom into his daughter’s sometimes chaotic life, and even look at photos on a cellphone. Although he still prefers the printed version, we sure don’t fight about it anymore.
Heavenly Father, we are in awe of the way You can take every trial and turn it into a teaching opportunity. Lord, give us the wisdom to hold our words until we are certain we are in the center of Your will. Thank You for Your forgiveness when we fail or fall short. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.
TRUTH FOR TODAY:
James 1:19-20, “My dear brothers and sisters, take note of this: Everyone should be quick to listen, slow to speak and slow to become angry, because human anger does not produce the righteousness that God desires.” (NIV)
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REFLECT AND RESPOND:
Think of a time when you let anger fly from your tongue. What would have changed if you had waited a day to voice your opinion?
Memorize a Scripture verse you can call to mind when you feel yourself being pulled into an argument. Perhaps consider starting with Proverbs 15:1, “A gentle answer deflects anger, but harsh words make tempers flare.” (NLT)
© 2017 by Nicole J Phillips. All rights reserved.
Originally published Monday, 27 March 2017.