You’re Not the Boss of Me!
James 1:2,3 Count it all joy, my brothers, when you meet trials of various kinds, for you know that the testing of your faith produces steadfastness.
Yesterday as I was thinking about what God was saying to me through today’s passage, God spoke. I got a phone call from Tommy who was under the impression that I had been prank-calling his phone. He proceeded to express his misdirected displeasure in a language that was quite colorful, angry and rude. I maintained my calm and politely informed Tommy that he indeed had the wrong number and I wished him well in his endeavors.
I then spent the next half-hour seething about what a jerk-face Tommy was. It took fully thirty minutes for me to realize that I had given Tommy control of my life for those thirty minutes. Like I said, God spoke, and I found what He was trying to tell me through today’s passage.
James, brother of Jesus, said that it is my responsibility to choose my attitude when I face the trials of life. I could not control the fact that I got that phone call yesterday. I was the only one however, who could determine the orientation of my mind for the next thirty minutes.
Instead, I gave that control away. Unfortunately, I do this all the time. You make me so angry! I can’t help it… It’s just how I feel… It’s just a reaction… I was born like this… We all have impulsive responses to pain, but the fact that a specific response is our natural one, does not make it the right one. We can justify any behavior if we insist that our first response is appropriate just because it is our nature. Our nature is broken and we can control it or allow it to control us.
James says that when I am hurt, I am to choose the orientation of my mind. I can either focus on self, becoming angry, resentful, bitter, and self-piteous, or, I can turn my gaze to God and allow him to work in my life. I cannot change the fact that I am going to encounter pain in this life. I can however, choose whether or not I wallow in that misery. When I choose to wallow, I hand the control of my mind over to whatever person, place or thing is causing that misery. I surrender myself to the trial and allow my broken nature to rule my life.
I do not want to be a slave to my broken nature. I do not want to give up control of my mind to people, situations, or trials. I want the gaze of my soul to remain on God. This of course, like all worthwhile things, is not easy. It is, just like every other act of faith, a choice that we have to make over and over with every new trial. Some trials will challenge us to the core and in them, we will have to choose a thousand times to turn our gaze to God.