Dealing with our own crisis and the crisis of others.
I recently received an email from a mom who had to ask her 20 something son to move out of her home because of his rebellion and unwillingness to get a job and live off of his mother. She felt guilty and responsible for holding her son responsible! Some times when others are in crisis or rebellion because of their own choices, the ones holding them responsible are looked upon as unloving, unkind, and judgmental.
There are three categories of crisis: Crisis that we created by our own choices, crisis that we did not create, and the crisis of others. In this post I want to briefly address all three categories from scripture…
Crisis that we have created:
In the book of Jonah, Jonah ends up in crisis because of his choice to not obey God. Jonah confused his will with God’s will. God asked Jonah to go to Nineveh and Jonah went the opposite way. God will ask us to do something, or not to do something and we do just the opposite. Not heeding God’s voice or His written word will result in personal crisis. God always forgives us for wrong choices but we still have to live with and deal with some of the consequences of our choices. Many times when we are dealing with those consequences, we, like Jonah get angry at God for the choices we made.
We will never know the peace that passes understanding until we give up our right to understand.
Crisis that we did not create:
At times a tragedy or situation beyond our control will arise and create crisis. It is during these stormy times that we must draw close to the Father in prayer. We have to seek Him for peace in the midst of the storm. In Luke 8:22-25, Jesus is asleep in the boat when a storm rises up. How could Jesus sleep during such a wild storm? Jesus could sleep in the boat during the storm because the world He lived in had no storm. Jesus lived in the realm of peace. Jesus released peace in the storm. You can only release what you have. Peace comes when we get closer to Jesus and quit trying to understand the storm.
Crisis others create:
This is where we can get into trouble. Many times when people are in crisis, (much of it they have created because of their own choices) they try to pull you into it. Some will use guilt, manipulation and anger. Much of the crisis is due to the fact that they are refusing to do what they have already been told to do, by God and other believers. When you refuse to involve yourself or limit yourself into their ongoing drama, you are viewed as unloving and uncaring. When you bring any kind of loving correction, you are viewed as lacking grace.
In the book of Jonah, chapter one, the boat that Jonah and the sailors are on is being tossed about during a violent storm. The sailors try everything to survive the storm. They throw cargo out, they pray to their gods, nothing helps and the storm grows worse, why, because of Jonah’s disobedience. God allowed the storm. The storm was allowed as an opportunity for Jonah to repent and seek God. Jonah did not, and he ended up in the belly of a great fish.
When we are enabling a person that God is dealing with, we will be effected by their storm. God is dealing with the person and we are in His way! Let them go…. When my father was drinking and refused to submit to God, the whole house was in turmoil. When couples refuse to submit to God and one another, the whole house is in trouble. When we refuse to live in financial stewardship, our whole house is in trouble, not to mention our wallets. When we refuse to give up destructive habits, our health and our children are in trouble. There is a storm and many are effected because of their disobedience.
Repentance requires a change of thinking. Repentance is not just saying you’re sorry to God and everyone involved because of your choices. Repentance is changing your thinking, and taking responsibility and ownership. We have to quit blaming others..Even if they are wrong. We begin to take responsibility for our own actions and begin making better choices. If we refuse, God will send a fish. Jonah spent 3 days in the belly of the fish until he cried out to God! I think he wanted to die, this is why Jonah was found sleeping during the storm. He gave up instead of repenting. He did not have peace, he just chose to quit living. God was not through with Jonah and I think God would have left him in the belly even longer, if he had not cried out to God and took personal responsibility. Taking responsibility also means dealing with your idols. His idol was his attitude and his unwillingness to forgive! Forgiveness is a big deal with God. Unforgiveness towards others keeps us in bondage, because if we choose not to forgive, God will not forgive us. This is why many of our prayers go unanswered. See Matthew 6:14-15.
Jonah 2:7-10 (New International Version)
When my life was ebbing away, I remembered you, LORD, And my prayer rose to you, To your holy temple. Those who cling to worthless idols forfeit the grace that could be theirs. But I, with a song of thanksgiving, Will sacrifice to you. What I have vowed I will make good. Salvation comes from the LORD. And the LORD commanded the fish, and it vomited Jonah onto dry land.
When we cling to our idols, whatever they are, we forfeit God’s grace but yet we demand it from others!
When we hold onto our idols, we cannot appropriate the mercy God desires to bestow. This is why God kept Jonah alive in the belly of the fish for so long. His mercy endures longer than our unwillingness to surrender! Ps 100:5. God loves us and never will withhold His love.
Our salvation will not come from people, it only comes from the Lord. We have to get out of the way and quit trying to save people. If people are unwilling to do what God has asked of them, why do we keep asking of them? Could we be in God’s way? Could we be living in another’s storm because we are confused about God’s discipline in some one’s life? Are we operating out of guilt because of choices in our own past? We always love others just like the Lord, but we may have to distance ourselves from their crisis, especially if it is self-imposed.
Only until we come to the end of ourselves are we willing to listen.
The pain of our choices must be greater than the pain of change!
During crisis, Jonah shows us what to do.
- Thanksgiving: Thanksgiving is a sacrifice because it takes our eyes off of ourselves and places them on the Lord. Start thanking the Lord for the other person that has offended you. This is when you know you are walking in true forgiveness. Our mouths determine how long we will stay in the belly. Thanksgiving is translated as praise here. (See Ecclesiastes 5:1-2.)
- Pay the Lord what you have vowed: Follow through on your commitments to the Lord. As believers every time we take the Lord’s supper, we make a promise to live a life of separation and dedication to God. (1 Cor 11:20-26) The fish obeyed God immediately!
- Salvation can only come from God. We can’t save ourselves or others. We have to quit trying to be God.
Psalm 3:8 (New King James Version)
Salvation belongs to the LORD. Your blessing is upon Your people. Selah
God wants to bless people with His salvation. We have to get out of His way and quit robbing Him of His blessing. After going through “Heart Change,” and having a huge “heart change” myself, Shelly and I have determined to love people, but not chase after others God is dealing with. We have chosen to let the Holy Spirit do that. Only He can reach the heart. We must always leave our arms open just like the father of the prodigal, but like the father, we choose not to go where some are going.
We have to chose to stay fixed in the place of love and not try to fix the ones who need His love. Sadly, many will live in the belly of the fish before they will live in the arms of the Father.
The choice belongs to us. We can either live in peace with God and others or at ought with God and others. Remember, God is about relationships and He loves the ones who have hurt us just as much as He loves us.
In His great love and peace,