Boy, Is It Hot!

“Wherefore, my beloved, as ye have always obeyed, not as in my presence only, but now much more in my absence, work out your own salvation with fear and trembling. For it is God which worketh in you both to will and to do of his good pleasure. Do all things without murmuring and disputings: That ye may be blameless and harmless, the sons of God, without rebuke, in the midst of a crooked and perverse nation, among whom ye shine as lights in the world; Holding forth the word of life; that I may rejoice in the day of Christ, that I have not run in vain, neither laboured in vain. Yea, and if I be offered upon the sacrifice and service of your faith, I joy, and rejoice with you all. For the same cause also do ye joy, and rejoice with me.”

Philippians 2:12-18

I recall a time in April of 2003, where I volunteered to take some kids to a youth retreat in Lancaster, California. The youth conference was from Wednesday to Friday and seemed simple enough. Rebekah was seven months pregnant with Nate and unable to travel as she was trying to save her vacation time. I needed someone to go with me, so I called my sister who was living in Chicago at the time. The Friday of the conference was my birthday, so she agreed to come and help me and then be there on my birthday. It was quite a sacrifice on her part, and I was most grateful for her help.

We left the church early Wednesday morning and embarked to the Golden State. I am not sure what I expected but we were only an hour out of town when we began to hear the complaints coming from the van in all directions. We would stop and some would want to go to this restaurant and others would want to go to another. People wanted to change seats and others would ask how much longer. I am, for the most part, pretty patient, but my patience was wearing thin. My sister and I pressed on in spite of these complaints, but the complaints were far from over.

We finally made it to the hotel for the conference and got all checked in and the kids started to complain why they had to go to church instead of hanging out at the pool. I about lost it as I explained in vain that this was a Bible Youth Conference not a church-funded Club Med. My sister began to call the teens the Israelites as their complaints ever increased. I was quite upset and disappointed with the teens as I had taken off of work and my sister did as well and flew all the way in from Chicago. I could have saved my vacation for Nate, but I thought I would do something helpful and impactful for these teens. I wanted to scream at them and leave them behind at the conference while me and my sister went to the pool. I thought “these little jerks don’t appreciate anything we do for them.”

On Friday, none of them remembered my birthday, and I was just ready to come home. The kids were in a hurry as well, but I went out of my way to go eat at a place they didn’t want to go. I was done with these Israelites, and I couldn’t wait to drop them off. I am not sure they learned anything that week, but apparently I didn’t learn much either as I took another group of teens four years later.

I often think of myself and what God may think of me as He blesses me with so much, but yet I still find things to complain about. He provides the sun which gives us so much but yet we always gripe about how hot it is. He gives us an abundance of food but yet it is either too hot, too cold or too bland. We have a closet full of clothes but complain we can never find the right thing to wear. We were saved from our sin but yet we long to wallow in it. We forget our purpose on earth and get grumpy when the thermostat doesn’t suit us. I had to hear the “Israelites” for a few days, but I think of God who hears us complain non-stop. A God who died for use but yet we still find fault with everything and anything.

I think of the work place and how easy it is to complain about things that don’t go right. I have heard people complain about it being too sunny and about it appearing too dark. I have heard that it is too cold or it is too hot. I think of our positions as Christians and the light we are to be wherever we go. I think if we are found praising instead of complaining, what a difference that would make to all those around us. I don’t know how we can be a light if we constantly complain and gripe about everything.

I recall a story I heard from one of my favorite preachers and he stated, “I was checking out of a grocery store whistling and smiling when the clerk asked me what I was so happy about. I told him, ‘you would be happy too if you were on your way to heaven.’ He said, ‘I am but I am backslidden.’ He was in church that following Sunday and got things right with God.” What do your words say about you? Do others see the light of God in your life or do they have to endure your griping and complaining? A lost world needs to see the joy of our salvation bursting out of us, and they need to know of the hope that lies within us. May we be too busy praising our God that we have no time or capacity to voice our discomforts. May the world see God in us, and may we think twice before we complain how hot it is.

Stay in the Fight!

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