Friday, October 9, 2015
The Costly Bad Attitude
Last November, I attended a conference in Nashville, Preparing Communities of Refuge, sponsored by CRI. I packed my cutest clothes and far more "stuff" than I needed and headed to Tennessee.
The information packet they sent mentioned a "new" facility. When I read "new", I expected a building in pristine condition. Something a little like a Holiday Inn. I did not expect an old hospital in the process of being sold for demolition.
My first hint that things were not as I expected was the non-functional elevator. I usually take the stairs, but not when I'm hauling a suitcase, a backpack, a sleeping bag, pillow, purse and a bag of snacks.
When I look at the picture of mattresses on the floor now, they don't seem so unusual, but at the time, they shocked me. Four to a room. I would be in a room with three women I'd never met?
The bathroom left me dumfounded. We had a shower that worked and a toilet that didn't. The commode was wrapped in black plastic and secured with duct tape, the words "Out of order! Do not use!" printed in block letters on the tape. In addition to whatever the black plastic hid, there was a leak. A plastic box was taped to the side of the toilet to catch the water that dripped from the faulty fixture. They weren't planning to repair this?
It was raining outside when I arrived. It was raining in the dining room, too. Large plastic boxes were positioned to catch the water from two leaks in the roof. I was shocked.
I immediately assumed I knew why the building was in such poor repair. These people must be terrible stewards of what God has given.
My assumptions nearly drove me out the door. I considered leaving, and almost did. God had brought me to this? It seemed unthinkable.
My critical, judgmental attitude nearly cost me one of the most life-changing blessings I've ever had.
The next day I learned that the ministry was a guest in the building. The conditions were "rough" because no repairs were being done in anticipation of demolition. The ministry wasn't being a poor steward of resources. They were embracing an opportunity God had given.
Nothing was as I assumed.
As I think back on that day and the critical judgmental attitude that nearly robbed me of an experience I will never forget, I wonder what that same attitude has cost me in the past.
What have false assumptions and inaccurate judgments cost me? How often have I walked away from a blessing in disguise because I didn't like the packaging?
Not every gift comes wrapped in a shiny paper and a sparkly bow. Some gifts from God come with leaky toilets, dripping roofs, non-functional heating systems.
When difficult situations cause us to see our heart as God sees it, they are nothing short of gifts from above.
It was twenty degrees in Nashville that week. It wasn't much warmer inside than out, and I carried my sleeping bag around like a spare jacket, wrapped myself in it when we sat down. It was cold. Very cold. I look back at that time now, though, and remember the cold and the army green sleeping bag with fondness.
They were gifts from God because He used them to show me my heart and change me to be more like Him.
Are there difficulties or unpleasant circumstances in your life? How is God using them to make you more Christlike? What is He showing you, teaching you through those circumstances?
Instead of jumping to conclusions or running for cover, let's ask God to reveal His will and His ways through the difficulties He sends our way.
If we allow Him to transform us, those difficulties can become some of the most precious memories of our lives.
"'I know the plans I have for you,' declares the Lord, 'plans for welfare and not for calamity, to give you a future and a hope.'" Jeremiah 29:11 nasb