(this morning the blog editor is being stupid and has messed up the format. Sorry for the lack of breaks between a few of the paragraphs)
A few years ago I was in Memphis for school one day and stopped for lunch at the Quizno's on Union Avenue. It was just a few blocks from campus, so I hit it pretty regularly. After lunch with a friend, I walked back out to the Jeep, set my drink in the console, and noticed that my laptop wasn't where I had left it. Then I noticed all of the glass everywhere. Yep, somebody had busted my window and jacked my laptop.
I was mad. I was beyond mad. I was furious. I was stomping and cussing, my blood pressure was through the roof, and I was so mad that I was just shaking. Two years worth of sermons, all of my school work (Except for the one assignment that was due that day, because I had emailed it), powerpoint presentations, music, everything...gone.
As I was waiting for the cop to show up, a little lady walked by going in to eat. She looked at me and said, "Aw honey, I'm so sorry they did that to you." I said, "Thanks, I just hope they read my sermons before they pawn it." She asked me if I were a pastor and I said, "Yes ma'am, but if I could have 5 minutes with the person that did this, I would take my robe off and deal with them." She looked at me with this look of horror on her face, and just as serious as she could said, "Oh honey, you can't lay your religion down like that."
Well, yes by dang, I thought I could. And was well within my rights to do so in that particular situation. It happened again this week (not the laptop getting stolen, but the wanting to lay my religion down for a minute). Let me just go on record as saying that sometimes I wish I was just Jamie, not Pastor. I love my calling and don't see me doing anything else, but sometimes there are situations where I would love to take my robe off and deal with folks.
I ran into the one person this week that I could have gone the rest of my life without seeing. This guy is a former church member and had cut me deeper than any other human on the planet (er go the reason I am very cautious when it comes to trusting people). I misread his character and it cost me dearly. I would have loved to have hung my robe up the other day and told him what a (Insert Clark Griswold's rant from Christmas Vacation here) he is, but the image of that little old lady in the Quizno's parking lot reminded me that I couldn't.
Paul did the same thing this morning. Here's what he says in 2 Corinthians 10: "I, Paul, who am "timid" when face to face, but "bold" when away! I beg you that when I come I may not have to be as bold as I expect to be toward some people who think that we live by the standards of this world. For though we live in the world, we do not wage war as the world does. The weapons we fight with are not the weapons of the world."
Dang it Paul, and dang you little old lady in Memphis...just let me be mad for a while and do what needs to be done. But I can't because the weapons we fight with are not the weapons of the world. That is such a tough lesson, and honestly, I'm not convinced that I've completely learned it yet. But the other day, I was cordial and polite, but not friendly, yet held my tongue. I decided it would be best to avoid conversation until I was able to be sure that I would not grab one of the weapons of the world. And honestly, at the moment, I wasn't sure.
So, the lesson for me in all of this is that reality says, we are just as human as everyone else. When we get mad we want to lash out. Paul says that lashing out, at least I'm assuming he would include that, is one of the weapons of the world. The church in Corinth was a mess, I'll just be honest. But of all of the situations that we have in scripture, these letters to those folks probably hit closer to home today. So, next time you want to lay your religion down, take a minute and think it over. I'm not telling you not to because that would be hypocritical. I wanted to, just didn't because of the setting. Had we been somewhere else, I'm not sure I would have reacted the same way, and I have to say, that bothers me.
Now, please don't throw the whole "Forgive and forget" thing at me. Reality is, that just doesn't work. We got into that in Sunday school last week, and I'm still processing that discussion. This week has taught me that it doesn't take much to re-open old wounds, and that I need to learn how to not pick up one of the weapons of this world when that happens. This morning has taught me that I still have a lot of work to do on this.
This one has messed me up. Sorry y'all, but I have to go think about this some more.