Saturday, December 12, 2009

Proud of my Patience

Christmas shopping is one of my most favorite things to hate. I loathe having to take time out of my schedule to go to the mall, (which is one of my most favorite places to hate) in order to stand in line for hours just to buy gifts that will be forgotten in less time than in took me to make it through the check-out process at the store. I know what your thinking: Ed sure is selfish. If I were more like Christ I would gladily endure the brutal torture of the "Christmas shopping experience" to bring a smile to the faces of those I love. To be sure there is undoubedtly a hint of selfishness in my complaint. I will work that out with my Heaven Father later today. But I fear that when next Christmas arrives, should God still have me on this planet and have blessed me so that I am able to live this annual "experience" once more, that my attitude toward this experience is likely to remain unchanged. However, I admit that God could bring about circumstances in my life in a way that my attitude toward Christmas shopping could change forever. Speaking of changing attitudes, as providence would have it, God has me working with not one, but two behaviorial scientists presently. The scientific data regarding change indicates that people do change. But that it takes consequences in order to help them to change. If a person really doesn't like the consequences of an action, they are not likely to repeat it. But they have to really dislike the consequences more than they like the actions that produced them. As far as my attitude changing toward Christmas shopping, God's will be done. Now on to the point of my post.

I drove to the mall yesterday to finalize my shopping. My first objective was a book from Books-A-Million. But the line was longer than I would have anticipated. I decided pateince was the order of the day. So I relaxed and waited and waited and waited and then paid for my book. I felt good about not allowing my blood pressure to increase.

Then I went to buy a gift card at the customer service desk. There was one person in front of me. But she was purchasing eight cards. Twenty minutes later, I purchased my one card in about 90 seconds and was on my way. Again, I did not allow my blood pressure to increase. Once again I felt good about the patience I had exhibited.

Finally I went to the Dollar Store to purchase some wrapping paper. I discovered I was behind a group of mentally challenged adults and obviously it would take some time to go through the check-out process. Once again, the Spirit was gracious and God helped me to move through the process with patience. And once again, I was proud of my patience.

As I moved through the mall, heading back to my car, I felt good about myself. My first sin was that I took credit for what the Spirit had produced in me as if I had produced it myself. And then I realized that while the sin of impatience was avoided, the sin of pride was glaringly pronounced in my attitude of accomplishment. On the one hand I could not help but feel somewhat helpless. Yet on the other hand I realized that utter dependence on the Spirit is essential if I am to maintain a right perspective on my nature and my actions as a sinner. The sin nature is such that it continually struggles to have its way. There is no such thing as rest against resisting sin for the believer in this life. That day comes when we are no longer living in this fleshly body. My experience at the Mall demonstrated to me that I must always be on my guard, not just against a particular sin, but against all my sinful tendencies.

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