So, it’s been a while since I’ve written a blog about any particular topic, and basically my family and I have been exceptionally busy. We made a 3-day road trip to move to Louisiana from Colorado. We moved into our new place and were met with an entirely new set of challenges, from a hallway flood to a gnat infestation to exorbitant health-insurance costs, and much much more. Essentially, it’s been a nagging-headache since we left Colorado, and I have definitely had my share of frustrations. However, during this time (specifically, when we were in the car on I-70 East in the eastern part of Colorado, entering Kansas), God began to deal with me about complaining.
Now, God originally admonished me to cease complaining during the summer when we were living in an extended stay hotel for two months (definitely not the ideal situation at all). And I can tell you that He gave me a lot of grace to remain positive and upbeat during those months. Yet, as I was sitting in the backseat of our car next to my daughter trying to keep her entertained but bored out of my mind because there was ABSOLUTELY nothing to look at, I again felt God prompting me to turn this area of my life over to Him.
Now, 18 hours on the road can give you a lot of time to think about matters, and I figured if God was bringing it up again, it would be beneficial for me to act upon that prompting. Obviously, I checked myself first, and I could not see any evidence of where I was complaining recently. So I was a bit confused as to why He kept prodding me, but I tried to approach it with the same way I approach anything that I am being convicted of. So I first thought of the Scriptures, and my mind went to Philippians 2:14 (Do all things without complaining and disputing”). Thinking about the verse, I asked God to work that out in me, so that I would not be given to complaining and end up being a contentious and bitter wife and mother.
“Therefore, my beloved, as you have always obeyed, not as in my presence only, but now much more in my absence, work out your own salvation with fear and trembling; for it is God who works in you both to will and to do for His good pleasure. Do all things without complaining and disputing, that you may become blameless and harmless, children of God without fault in the midst of a crooked and perverse generation, among whom you shine as lights in the world, holding fast the word of life, so that I may rejoice in the day of Christ that I have not run in vain or labored in vain.” –Philippians 2:12-16
Needless to say, I know now why God kept bringing up complaining. When we finally got to Louisiana, I felt like so many things were wrong. I felt like we had been deceived perpetually (my husband did feel that way about a number of things). I was unsatisfied with the random problems wrong in our home. I was also frustrated by the fact that the heat index was perpetually above 100 degrees every day for the first three weeks we were here. And guess what? I complained. I complained here and there, but again, I heard God reminding me that this was something that I needed to put before Him to work out of my life, and I got up one morning and did that.
The results have not been perfect, but they have slowly and steadily gotten better. Did everything work out? ABSOLUTELY NOT! It took a little over a week to clear up the flood issue. The gnat infestation lasted even longer. We found out even more expensive hidden costs associated with moving here that no one informed us about. We found out that our place sets in an area that is prone to flooding, although they denied that when we moved in. We’ve gone through our first hurricane. And we are going through the frustrations of church shopping……basically, our situation has not changed at all. However, God has dealt with my attitude and my response to all of these things.
The fact is that we are supposed to be “without fault in the midst of a crooked and perverse generation, among whom you shine as lights in the world, holding fast the word of life”. That is, as children of God we are subject to random annoyances, situations, and circumstances that we would generally prefer never to be in. However, as children of God, our entire response to these situations should be completely different than how other people deal with these things. No, we may not “pop off” on people or act belligerent to those in charge, but can we be so different from the world that we don’t even complain about it? I mean, is it possible that we stop complaining about the things that happen?
Honestly, I think that this is possible, and it is only possible if God works it out in you. I sincerely believe that this is not something you can do fully under your own volition, but it is something that is done by God alone. You may stop articulating your complaints out loud, but it is only God that can permanently change your heart and mind towards this. He is the One that gave you your light. He is the One that keeps that light from ever going out, and He is the One that sets that light in any place He chooses in the dark dark world. And if we remember that even the smallest thing, even a small amount of complaining can dim that light, I think that we would be more diligent and steadfast to allow Him to work His word out in our life every day and in every moment.
The second thing that I want to put forward here from this experience is to encourage you to be diligent and heeding the voice of God in your life the FIRST time. I know that if I heeded God’s voice about this matter earlier (before we moved), my response to the situations once we got here would have been much different. Just because you may not see full evidence of a problem in your life when you are first admonished about it does not mean that you do not have a problem. It just means that your problem has not been fully exposed to you yet, although God sees it clearly at all times.
To make you aware of your own problems and faults, I can testify that God will allow you to go through different experiences, frustrations, and problems until you can see yourself clearly in that area and become willing to submit that area of your life to Him to work out, to be conformed to the image of His Son, Jesus Christ. We know that “all things work together for our good”, but allow that message to be a part of every experience you have in life, both the good experiences and the bad. God is using all of these things to work together for your good that is that you are more fully conformed to the image of Christ, and in this situation, He used all of these things to work out complaining in my life.
My prayer is that you become even more diligent to not only hear the voice of the Lord in your life, but obey Him in all things that He makes you aware of. I also pray that you look at the trials, situations, and circumstances in your life in a different way, seeing how God can use these things to expose your faults and shortcomings and mature you even more in the faith as you submit in obedience to His word. Finally, I pray that you experience the fullness of His joy as you obey His every word, even the smallest commands.