I had a rough night last night. First, I couldn’t get to sleep. Then, after several hours of tossing and turning, I finally fell asleep, only to wake up around 2:00 a.m., sick to my stomach and in pain. I wandered downstairs and into my kitchen, in search of some Pepto-Bismal, and found that someone (or perhaps multiple someones) had left behind a sink full of dirty dishes. Neither food nor liquids had been kindly or thoughtfully rinsed off the variety of bowls, dishes, silverware and cups. I became immediately aggravated which only intensified my stomach pains and my headache.
As the mother of teens, I am weary of having to remind them daily to be responsible and to do their part regarding household chores. Everybody wants to reap the benefits of being older and more mature, but having to handle the responsibilities that go along with that don’t seem to get much attention and often get lost in the shuffle. Of course, there IS another adult in this household that could help and be supportive, but that’s a minefield I choose not to walk across today.
Anyway, over the years, I’ve come to realize and have had to admit to myself (and now, to others) that I am a full blown, anal-retentive control freak. As I stated in earlier posts, the act of letting go of people, things and situations into God’s hands and then leaving them there has been and is a constant struggle for me. Try as I might (and believe me, I have tried and tried and tried), I cannot change anyone, which frustrates me to no end. There are times when I feel like such a failure because my words, actions, examples and prayers have done nothing to change the hearts, minds and attitudes of the people in my life, especially those who are closest to me. I’m well aware that only God is able to truly change the hardest and most stubborn of hearts, minds and souls of people, yet when no change seems to come, even after years and years, I tell myself that in order for God to be able to transform someone, they themselves have to sincerely WANT to change (sidebar of irony here: as I‘m writing this, my dog just let me know the mail had arrived and waiting for me was a solitary envelope with the words “I REALLY WANT TO CHANGE…SO, HELP ME, GOD” emblazoned across the front of it). But, as I sat at my kitchen table in the wee hours this morning, clutching my trusty pink bottle of Pepto and glaring at the sink, the story of Saul on the road to Damascus popped into my head.
Saul was certainly not looking to be changed the day the Lord stopped him dead in his tracks with a blinding light and a message that he was to go from being Saul, persecutor extraordinaire of those who were followers of The Way, to Paul, man on fire for Christ and deliverer of the Good News for the Gentiles. In fact, Saul was actually on his way to Damascus to wreak more havoc:
‘Meanwhile, Saul was still breathing out murderous threats against the Lord’s disciples. He went to the high priest and asked him for letters to the synagogues in Damascus, so that if he found any there who belonged to the Way, whether men or women, he might take them as prisoners to Jerusalem. As he neared Damascus on his journey, suddenly a light from heaven flashed around him. He fell to the ground and heard a voice say to him, “Saul, Saul, why do you persecute Me?” “Who are you, Lord?” Saul asked. “I am Jesus, whom you are persecuting,” He replied. “Now get up and go into the city, and you will be told what you must do.” The men traveling with Saul stood there speechless; they heard the sound but did not see anyone. Saul got up from the ground, but when he opened his eyes he could see nothing. So they led him by the hand into Damascus. For three days he was blind, and did not eat or drink anything. ‘ (Acts 9:1-9)
No, change was not on Saul’s agenda that day, but in the blink of an eye (no pun intended), he was instantly and completely transformed from the inside out by the Lord. A man who believed he had his life and the lives of many others completely under his command and control and felt no need or desire for change within himself, now found himself out of control: not only totally blind and dependent upon his fellow traveling buddies to lead him the rest of the way to Damascus, but totally under the Lord’s command and control now.
The point here is something that I keep forgetting --
ALL things are possible with God (Mark 10:27).
NOTHING is too hard for Him (Jeremiah 32:17).
Yes, not being in control and unable to change certain people in my life sure is frustrating for me. Yet I wonder how much more frustrating it is for God, watching me struggle all these years to learn to let go of each and every person, thing and situation into His more than capable hands and to leave them there, trusting Him to bring about the necessary change, perhaps with other Damascus moments.
If I'm blind to His will for me,
Then I'll wait to be shown;
And like Paul, I'll have an answer too,
At the end of Damascus Road.
I've been walking down Damascus Road,
And I've carried many cares;
To the place where I am waiting now,
Till the Master tells me where to go from here.
I'm learning grace I thought I'd never have,
And how to wait upon the Lord;
The answer's sweet, I think it's just in sight,
At the end of Damascus Road. ~ Damascus Road, by The Perrys