Church of Tollhouse Ministry Center

I woke up looking at life through crud covered glasses. To say I woke up on the wrong side of the bed is an understatement. It was a lousy day…well, at least to me it was. Sure, the sun was out, the birds were chirping, the wind was blowing…causing the periwinkles and the branches in the queen palms to gently sway. Never mind that I was standing in a perfect vantage point to get a clear view of the snow capped San Gorgonio and San Jacinto mountains. Don’t bother mentioning that I was blessed with a beautiful wife and child, lived in a gorgeous home, and had a stable job with a good company that afforded me the flexibility to pursue my dreams. Forget all of that. As far as I was concerned, life stunk and that was all there was to it. I had established my attitude, hardened my heart… positioned my mindset to enjoy, or not enjoy…a well deserved pity party. The problem with a pity party is it doesn’t just confine itself to you, it includes others too ̶ and they don’t want to come to the party.

My biggest struggle over the years has not been external, it has been internal. The biggest battles I have had to face in my life have not come from adapting, adjusting to, or overcoming uncomfortable, unscheduled events. My biggest conflicts happen within the confines of my own thought processes; attitudes stemming from a wrong perception of: people, problems, and possible predicaments. These wrong attitudes, rooted in my sin nature, have hindered, even at times, paralyzed my progress as a disciple. Try as I might, I am an utter failure at reforming my thought process. Positive actions are the result of a positive attitude. Perhaps some may argue, but I have found that I cannot ‘will’ myself to have a positive attitude, at least not an authentic one that is in agreement with the person and purpose of Jesus. Thoughts cannot be reformed, they must be transformed. This does not happen through perspiration, it happens through consecration. It happens through a surrender of the will in conjunction with a steady diet of God’s word.

The Apostle Paul once said we need to be careful, lest that which we started in the Spirit, we will attempt to finish in the flesh (paraphrase). In other words, we were saved by God’s grace through faith. This is also how we are to live our lives. We are to walk by faith, surrender our wills and humbly accept His provision to fulfill His plan and His purpose. It is only by relinquishing our right to ourselves and our agenda, that we will experience the peace and rest of God.

So, that morning, many years back, my pity party, my bout of stinking thinking was a direct result of my unwillingness to surrender my will ̶ my dumb, dogged determination to try to follow God while at the same time trying to accomplish my own agenda. I was so preoccupied with wanting to be where I thought God would have me in the future, that I failed to enjoy the beauty and blessings he bestowed upon me in the now. See, life was beautiful, but I was ugly…and unfortunately my wife and daughter became the recipients of my ugliness.

So I moaned and groaned, ranted and raved, grumbled and complained. I was the house hypocrite ̶ the spiritual head of my Christian household and acting like anything but. I hated my house, and my job…wanted to move somewhere and do something that was more spiritual. But no change of location or occupation would do that. What I needed was for God to take me out to the wood shed and give me an attitude adjustment, and He did. The switch He used to switch my arrogance and ugliness into gratefulness and humility was the words of my four year old daughter.

As I stormed my way out the door to my work truck to start what I knew would be just another horrible day in the neighborhood, I could hear faint cries of my dear little daughter shouting from the door, “Daddy, Daddy, Daddy.” I turned around and yelled angrily, “What?” She said in a soft, startled whisper, “I just wanted a hug.” I melted… felt so stupid, so selfish…so humbled. It wasn’t just my daughter speaking, it was God speaking. God is not concerned about my efforts, my accomplishments, my striving for significance…He just wants a hug, wants my heart…wants my devotion… and in that, I find my significance and the right attitude to act.

So I walked over to my daughter, kissed her, apologized to her, wrapped my arms around her and hugged her, for a long time. Then I walked over and got into my work truck. It was a great day.

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