Saturday, September 06, 2008

Tossing Down the Gauntlet

We all meet people that rub us up the wrong way – some of us meet more of them than others. Our church leader made an interesting observation the other week that sometimes people rub us up the other was because we create an environment by our approach to them that makes it happen. The tone of our voice, the set of our shoulders speak as loudly to people as do our words.

I don’t often deal with just individuals. I deal with groups of people. As much as I mind the tone of my voice and the set of my shoulders as I deal with an individual, I always have to consider the good of the group. They are watching me to see what I do that creates for them an environment where they feel looked after and protected. In order to do that I have to take on the challenge of the individual, pick up the gauntlet as it were that he or she tosses to the floor. I am the top banana, and one or two would love to pull me off my tree!

Some times it wears me down. The fuse that was a long one at the start of the day gets a little bit shorter with each and every encounter. One lesson I have learned is to blow well before you have run out of fuse! Blow early and you are in control, you are pretending to be angrier than you really are. It’s an act, scary as it is. Wait until the fuse runs out, and then blow - well, who knows what you will do or say because you are out of control.

There was one such encounter recently where the fuse was short. The person in question had been most aggressive – not only towards me, but towards others. I could well understand if someone punched him soundly on the nose. He had pushed us all well beyond the limits.

I could hear the voice in my head saying, “That is it! You have been so obnoxious! You know what I would really like to do to you?” At this point I confess to visions of the person being mowed down by a lorry – Oh, come on, don’t you sometimes feel that way too?

Before I could answer my own question, the Holy Spirit darted in and answered it for me.

“Pray for you!”

Talk about tossing down the gauntlet!

Before I could argue the point and say that I preferred the lorry scenario, the Spirit continued…remember all of this is in my head, not said out aloud…

“And do you know what will happen when I start to pray? You are going to change! And do you know why you’re going to change? You are going to change because the God that I pray to can do anything.”

It was said so seriously, almost like a threat! I have met people who in dealing with others that have caused harm to themselves and others, have resorted to cursing them – not just your the angry flow of expletives kind of curse – but the spiritual kind! The Spirit made it quite clear that the kind of prayer he was looking for on behalf of this individual was the wholesome kind, the building up, the edifying, the intercession kind where I held in my heart love for the individual and looked for the best for them.

Make no mistake, I am know that often the change happens in the person that is praying rather than the object of the prayer. The situation doesn’t change, but their attitude and reaction to it does. This was not one of these times. It was not my words about changing the person – but the Spirit’s. I have every expectation that I will change anyway as I get involved in the praying process.

Later that night, the Spirit reminded me of those unspoken words. Just because they had not been said out loud did not make them any less binding.

So I prayed!

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