Do all things without grumbling and complaining.
These words, running through my sleepy brain, seemed to shout, Wake Up!
I rolled on my side, trying to fall back to sleep. But sleep would not come.
My normal wake up call, a child climbing into bed for morning snuggles or my husband’s alarm clock beeping, was not what was forcing me to begin my day. Yet, I knew what, or should I say, Who, was! I recognized the still small voice of the Lord. And from past experience, I understood waking up to a Bible verse meant the Lord was preparing to teach me a new lesson! Like it or not.
I leaned over to my nightstand, flipped on the light, and grabbed my Bible. Genuinely bewildered at the salutation, I prayed, “Lord, I don’t feel like I grumble and complain.”
Turning to the concordance, I found the passage I was looking for. Philippians 2:14 read, Do everything without complaining and arguing. (I guess God only wanted to work on the grumbling and complaining part. He knew I hated to argue). Then, I read the verse in context.
Philippians 2:14-16 said, “Do everything without complaining and arguing, so that you may become blameless and pure children of God, above reproach in a crooked and depraved generation, in which you shine like stars in the universe as you hold out (and hold on to) the word of life…”
Wow! I wrote the verses down on a 3x5 card. Later, I dropped it in my purse, where I could refer to it often as I began to mediate on and memorize the passage. And, I prayed, “Lord, what are you trying to teach me?”
God answered! He began to show me that although I really didn’t grumble and complain very much with my words, I did do it in my heart. Then, over the next several weeks, the Lord began to reveal to me how every time I grumbled or complained, with my mouth or in my heart, I hid the light which He longed to shine through me to everyone I came in contact with. In my home or out in public, everywhere I went. And He lovingly showed me:
1) The Problem Is Mine
The Lord first exposed this light-dimming problem at a retail store, when my anger flared after I felt unfairly treated. Soon after that, it was at a Bible Study, which I taught. On my drive home, He revealed to me my teaching was less effective than it could have been, because I spent valuable prep time grumbling to Him about a petty situation. Both times, I vividly saw how I had dimmed the light of Jesus when I had turned my heart and my words towards grumbling and complaining. Each time, I sincerely repented. Because, with all my heart, I wanted to be a shining light!
Then one weekend, I learned the hardest lesson of all. It was after our Sunday night family tradition of watching, Touched By An Angel. The kids were allowed to stay up past bedtime, but immediately after they were sent off to get ready for bed. However, this night my oldest son confessed he still had homework to do. I also realized there were sheets in the dryer, instead of on the beds. And, of course, other drama guaranteed our late bedtime became even later.
When everyone was finally tucked into bed, I stormed through the house looking for "that man." I finally found my husband, quietly focused on learning the features of a new wristwatch. When I recited (okay, grumbled and complained) the list of problems which delayed bedtime, he patiently said, "you should have asked me to help."
I was livid! I stormed downstairs, in tears, venting to the Lord my list of grievances about "this man you gave me." But, as I presented my case, I heard the words again, Do all things without grumbling and complaining.
Stopped in my tracks, I fell to my knees, and I wept! And the whisper in my heart went on, This is not about him. He would have helped if you had asked. And, I knew this was true! I knew the Lord was doing heart surgery to teach me to shine His light, instead of darkening His presence with my immature, selfish, and ungodly attitude.
2) The People are Watching
A few years later, I was preparing to give this message to a Mothers Of Preshoolers group. I was reveiwing my notes as I waited in a long line for a loaner vehilce, while my car was serviced. As I stood in line, I rehearsed my message, waiting, praying, and practicing what I would share. But, when I finally reached the counter, I was told I was in the wrong line, and I would have to go stand in yet another long line.
I took a deep breath. I thanked God for His goodness, and whispered, "Well, Lord, you sure are giving me the opportunity to practice what I'm going to preach."
Then, I recieved the most wonderful surprise. A lady, sitting in a nearby chair, spoke to me, "How did you do that?"
"How did I do what," I answered.
"I've been watching you! You have been treated badly. Standing first in one long line and now another. I would have been irate. But, you have not grumbled or complained at all." (I promise, she said those exact words)!
Wow, the Lord's light was shining! And, someone saw it. Plus, I had the priviledge to share the message I was preparing with a complete stranger in the middle of the Jeep dealership.
3) The Power is Mine
I have intended to write this post for years. But may I be honest, it is a lesson I never quite get down. It's one I have to be reminded of again and again. It is a message I have to put into practice over and over.
Even this past summer, I grumbled and complained a lot, (mostly to my poor husband) about the coastal marine layer which makes me so depressed. But patiently, the Lord continues to teach me I can choose to shine His light! Or, I can make it dim and dull, and wear everybody out with a grumbly heart and complaining words. God is teaching me the choice is up to me. I decide what fills up my heart and what comes out of my mouth. I have the power to stop complaining, thus allowing room for His light to shine instead!