Always hard for me as an Ex-Marine to ever utter the word retreat, but it is a fact of life that we sometimes feel so strongly about going forward on something that we fail to see the consequences of our actions. How about General Custer? Or any of several noted celebrities who couldn't contain the ugly words that they said in public? How about Peter? Or how about me?
A couple days ago I felt so strongly about something that I blazed the typing keys with anger and disbelief at what I felt was an injustice. Nothing wrong with feeling that outrage, but to put it in print for others to see? Maybe a rush to judgement. And maybe they would not understand your underlying intent and instead be offended by some of the things you wrote. Fortunately I had a filter, someone who pointed out the possible damaging effects the intended good the words of outrage would have. So I retreated, but I do not feel defeated.
There are times when the Lord and the missionary Paul took a step back on their journeys or avoided danger by taking a different route. They may have retreated from their intended destination, but they never backed off of their purpose. If Paul had not escaped from that village, or come back from his stoning (but not to the same place), maybe we don't get to read his eloquent words of faith. They knew they may have to lose a battle to win the war.
For me, I need to remember that I can feel so strongly about something that I can become like a bull in a china shop. It's okay if that's about my faith, about telling my story passionately to help others see a light, but not if it is so controversial that it either brings out bad feelings in others or creates doubt of the Lord's intent for us to be peacemakers. My war is not physical anymore, it is spiritual and led by a general with a game plan of grace.
My purpose remains the same, I am glad to say, but how I deliver the message should be up to Him, not me, and I always need to remember that. Thank you for reminding me Mrs. Filter, the retreat calmed my soul, and my words.
So when you see something that makes you want to cut someone's ear off (Peter), or throw a bunch of tables over (Jesus), or take on a bad giant (David), make sure you are directed by God's Holy Spirit to do so and not by the rage of your anger. And remember, that a whole bunch of your friends and family are watching to see an authentic faith, not a reactionary religion.
Glenn is an ex-Marine Viet Nam vet who is also a recovering alcoholic, clean and sober for 30 years. He has been involved in start up and ongoing recovery ministry at North Atlanta Church and Campus for the last two decades. He has a passion for outreach and to spread the message that the answer to lasting and fulfilling recovery from addiction is in a relationship with Jesus Christ. He and the ATB team are available to assist in your questions or needs on an individual basis and will do so maintaining complete confidentiality. You may e-mail him at firstname.lastname@example.org.