August 27, 2012


Every Sunday evening, my husband and I discuss our weeks: what is on the schedule, what we need prayer for, what are priorities, when we'll spend time together or as a family, and what extenuating circumstances require our attention.

This is not my favorite time of the week. Staring at our combined Google calendars and discussing the upcoming schedule always makes me agitated. Not overwhelmed, not stressed--agitated. Annoyed. Irritable.
This morning, working through Philippians, I discovered why as I attempted to put 2:14-15 to memory:

Do everything without complaining and arguing, so that you may become blameless and pure, children of God without fault in a warped and crooked generation. Then, you will shine among them like stars in the sky.

At times, ministry feels like a constant crisis, an ongoing pressurized situation. We're running full-speed ahead, a sprinter's pace in a marathon race. My first response, one that has become a habit and has gone quite unchecked, is to complain. My fleshly tendency is to see the glass half-empty, to notice what is not there, and to infect my husband's perspective with my moaning and griping. I am deeply sad to report this reality, and I've been convicted often about this, knowing that this is an area in my life that God wants authority over and wants to transform.

Everything. Do everything without complaining.

God is showing me that complaining is a verbal communication of an inner disquiet or discontentment, for out of the heart the mouth speaks. Complaining is always wishing for more or different. For me, my complaining spirit is closely related to fear, which I know to be a distrust of God, and pride, which I know to be a desire to be God.

To do everything without complaining would not mean developing a fake optimism or striving to change my verbal habits. It would mean believing that the half-glass is enough. It would mean that I believe God will supply my every need, including the time and energy and wisdom to fulfill each day's calling. It means that when I don't get things how I want them to be, I see it as God's protection. Instead of complaining, my first response must be to trust.

It's interesting to me that this is how Paul says we will impact our cultures, cultures full of complaining and stress and fear and control and distrust. He says our verbal word choices--and the trusting heart they spring from--have an incredible influence in reaching nonbelievers. This is the kind of person I want to be, and I'm allowing God to root out fleshly habits in my life that might destroy His image. I'm thankful He is patient and hasn't given up on me.

He will help my first response become a quiet heart, content and trusting.