It’s still dark out, not quite dawn, so I stir. Then rising, I sit for a beat or two on my side of the bed.
“Read to me,” my husband mumbles.
I hear him. I love him. I’m grateful for his request. But can I be honest? I don’t want to read to him right now – not even to read our devotion, which is what he’s asking from me.
First, the sun’s not even up. We’ve had a long, full, messy kind of week, and now it’s Saturday. So, just for a minute, I’d like to sit here on my bed, meet the day, ease into the morning, and maybe get a blessed reprieve from the Lord.
I’d also like to finish this article. It’s due soon, and after the recent horror of Hurricane Dorian, I’m trying to write something faith-related about climate change. A friend and I struggle to talk about it. I’m green. She’s not. So we’ve been at a standoff, and that too feels hard and heavy, maybe even heartbreaking.
So, what now, Lord? How can I give my husband more time? Make peace with my friend? Finish my article? And love You better, too?
It’s another “little” prayer, but doesn’t praying it and asking God for answers make me right?
I don’t hear His reply, so for a break, I take myself outside to my humble little garden. Puttering a bit in the soil, I pull weeds, deadhead flowers, water the thirsty, prune the disobedient.
In the tending, I take some deep breaths and feel myself relax. A neighbor across the street comes outside too and waves. She and I meet in the middle of our street and chat a bit. Then, as praying people would expect, I start to hear from the Lord.
A gentle answer turns away wrath.
It comes from Proverbs 15:1. Indeed, it’s godly wisdom. And then, another one:
A hot-tempered person stirs up conflict, but the one who is patient calms a quarrel (Proverbs 15:18).
Standing in my little garden, I’m not surprised the Lord has answered this way. I could’ve been kinder and more attentive to my husband this morning. With my not-green friend, I could grant her the same thing – more kind attention.
Apparently, I forgot, as the late theologian Howard Thurman put it, “the ethical necessity” of dealing with others, not as I would have them deal with me but to deal with them “as I deal with myself.”
Or as Jesus urged, “Love your neighbor as yourself” (Mark 12:30-31).
I can’t deny what that means. It means we give the same leeway and understanding to others as we give to ourselves. It means taking time to read to my loving husband and not arguing with my not-green friend.
It might feel like tough marching orders. Like most, my plate stays too full, and I run out of steam. I get cranky with my husband. Regarding Earth, I want my friend to “see the light” – accepting global warming as fact, with the world running out of time to fix it.
Or I could follow the man from Galilee. I hear His gracious Spirit telling me that, in human problems and conflicts, outcome matters. But first comes process.
So, I go back in the house and talk to Dan. He’s in the kitchen fixing his breakfast, finished already reading today’s devotional, but we talk about it. It’s from Psalm 37:7-9, which simply says, “Be still before the Lord and wait patiently for him . . . Refrain from anger and turn from wrath.”
My impatience with others, therefore, has no place in a life with Christ. Sure, it’s one thing to believe I’m right about various things. It’s far better, however, to love and be redemptive than be right.
Yes, God knows Hurricane Dorian ripped apart islands in the Bahamas, killing beautiful people and leaving the front-line Caribbean in climate-change splinters. But what else happened?
First, even as the storm raged, neighbors helped neighbors. Families helped friends. Strangers helped strangers. Were people arguing? Debating climate change? Thundering over who was right?
They, instead, were being redemptive, giving of themselves and sacrificing their own safety and comfort.
Then, in making these connections, people talked. And loved. And helped.
This is the way of Christ. As Paul said, “Get rid of all bitterness, rage and anger, brawling and slander, along with every form of malice. Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you” (Ephesians 4:31-32).
It’s only then that we can heal our beautiful earth, that we can love each other inside our homes, that we can forgive our cross-ways friends. But first? We need to let God heal our hearts, and from there, His redemptive good happens.
It’s far better to love and be redemptive than be right. -@PatriciaRaybon: Click To Tweet