Break Through Unthankfulness: Thank God for Red Lights

Thursday, November 05, 2015

…strengthened with all power, according to His glorious might, for the attaining of all steadfastness and patience; giving thanks to the Father…” 
(Colossians 1:11-12a, NASB)

I, (Melanie), roll over and look at the clock: 5:26am.

Oh goodness, I’m late! Did my alarm go off? How could this have happened…again? Oh well, that doesn’t matter now. I jump out of bed and with phone in hand I run to the kitchen. Set my phone on the desk. Put the bacon on the counter. Pour water in the Keurig. Turn on the Keurig. Set out the coffee mugs and the eggs. Grab a bowl out of the cabinet. Put water in the pot for grits. Suddenly, I’m feeling nauseous and a little dizzy.

As my bent over body tries to make its way down the hall, I look over at my phone, it’s 5:30am. Still struggling to make it to the bathroom, I try to mutter hey, but the next thing I hear is Shanita screaming noooo and Java, our ministry dog, breathing in my face. I’m on the floor. With help, I manage to stand up to see 5:33am on the stove’s clock.

I know what happened. This happened before, when I was rushing to prepare food, and I was angry inside about something. That time, I cut myself and at the sight of my blood the next thing I know, I was on the floor with a huge knot on my forehead! (Insert side-eye here).

I had fallen again. Better yet, fainted; what my doctors like to call vasovagal syncope (vay-zoh-VAY-gul SING-kuh-pee): which is when you faint because your body has overreacted to a trigger such as the sight of blood or extreme emotional distress.

My emotional distress came from my hurriedness to get going because I was running late. I was too impatient to take a moment and say thank you God for waking me up – without the alarm clock. I was too impatient to take a moment and say good morning to a friend before starting the daily rigmarole of fixing breakfast. That hardwood floor not only caught my fall, it was the red light wake-up call to be more thankful in moments that call for impatience.

Thankfulness makes present moments bearable, peaceful, and rich. 
Impatience is the result of unthankfulness: skirting past present moments to lay hold of the next

We may have all felt, at some point in our lives, the pressure to get things done quickly. We rush. Rush past people on escalators, push past people at worship service to get to our favorite seat, we run to complete our work so we can hurry up and clock out. Singles are rushing to get married, newlyweds are already gearing up for baby number 2, new hires are rushing to get their first promotion…and some of us are already thinking about Black Friday deals and can’t enjoy the things we have in our possession now!

Where is the red light in our lives? Red lights allow us an opportunity to stop and see what’s happening around us so we can make the necessary adjustments. At the red light we put the radio on our favorite station, we check on the kiddos in the back seat, we finish putting on make-up, we take sips of coffee, we fix our clothes, we send a quick text. We stop. We adjust.

But when we’re impatient, we run red lights. We overreact in anger because of traffic. We fuss at our children. We spill coffee. We make mistakes. We fall spiritually, because we’re trying to get physical results so quickly. Our impatience says what’s happening right now is not right for me, so we speed on past the moment.

Patient people live in the right now, not the not right.

When we’re patient, we thank God for the red lights that allow us to look around and take in what’s before us. We know things aren’t perfect, but we still acknowledge God. That’s what happened in my case; I learned to take notice of God before trying to take care of me.

Have you had a red light moment?

When was the last time your spirit overreacted to the mention of Jesus’ shed blood? When was the last time you were in so much emotional jubilation, that you found yourself on the floor, prostrate, praising and worshiping God? When was the last time you took a moment to stop and say thank you God, and really mean it? When was the last time you had a red light moment to adjust your spirit?

Breaking Through Unthankfulness starts with patience: accepting the present for what it is, accepting self for what you’re not, and trusting God to bless this moment because of WHO HE IS.

This Thankful Thursday, it may be time to stop and adjust before disaster strikes. Before running to your next task or speeding through the red light, stop, take a deep breath. Say thank you and enjoy this moment for what it is: a moment of God’s amazing grace; a moment of God’s perfect peace.

Questions for Reflection:

1. Do you need a red light moment to stop and adjust your spirit?
2. What do patience and thankfulness have in common?
3. How can you learn patience in the center of emotional hurriedness?

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