In the late 19th and early 20th centuries, in New York City, apartment buildings were built with the same floor plan. One story of the complex was put directly on top of another story, and so on. That left bedrooms directly beneath one another. At night, someone would crawl into bed and fall asleep when they heard a thump directly above them. Their upstairs neighbor was taking off their shoes as they prepared for bed. Dropping the discarded shoe on the floor seems like nothing significant unless you live directly below the thud it creates.
Once awakened, the person on the lower level would “wait for the other shoe to drop” before attempting to fall back asleep. Over time this became an American expression. It was shorthand for saying that you are waiting on something inevitable to happen, usually something unpleasant. It was used in print as early as 1921 and was engrained as an idiom by the 1940s.
Numerous people spend their lives waiting for the other shoe to drop. They committed a sin, and now they are waiting for something terrible to happen as God’s way of punishing them. Some of them even walked through the initial pain of their mistake being made public, and now they know something else bad will happen. A few have even confessed it to God and possibly a trusted friend, but they are still convinced that future pain is inevitable.
Today I just want to remind you that as a follower of Jesus, we believe that Jesus’ death on the cross was to pay for all of our sins. He died and took our punishment on himself. He is our substitute which gives us atonement with God.
One challenge in the life of faith is to stop waiting for the other shoe to drop. God is not an angry upstairs neighbor waiting for you to get comfortable in your life before he rattles you with some loud event. He is a gracious and loving God who deals with sin directly through the death of his son. He punished him in our place, and now we do not have to punish ourselves while we wait for the jarring thump of God dropping something else disruptive in our lives. Shoes drop in apartments in NYC, not in your life with God.
God wants to use your worst experience to bless someone else.
The former addict can turn and help other addicts find sobriety. Someone who has been through an ugly divorce can help another person through theirs. A person who has experienced a lot of pain can overflow with compassion to ease others’ pain.
Paul writes in the first chapter of his second letter to the Church in Corinth and says, “Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of compassion and the God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our troubles, so that we can comfort those in any trouble with the comfort we ourselves receive from God.”
God comforted Paul in his troubles so that he could comfort other people.
It is a simple concept; God wants us to take our ugly experiences and use the lessons we learned to bless other people.
A past hurt is not wasted, even if we feel regret, as long as we allow God to use it for his good.
A question was asked in the men’s group I attend, and I was amazed at the wisdom of the answers provided. The group responded with penetrating questions, insightful comments, and biblical truth.
Immediately this thought went through my head, “We are smarter than me.”
Sure, put an odd collection of people together, and bad things can happen, but usually, there is something positive. There is the scriptural teaching from the spiritually mature, the experience of the aged, and the lessons of multiple lifetimes available to guide us.
Today, it is popular to think that faith is a personal matter best experienced privately. Nothing could be further from the truth. God puts us together with other believers for a multitude of reasons. One significant advantage of being in a community is the wisdom we have available by connecting to other people.
It really means, “I value something else more.”
This is true with even the significant things in life like taking the time to talk with your spouse, playing with your children, growing in your faith, connecting with other believers, or spending time with a friend.
Think of it this way. If you received a call tomorrow and someone you love was in the hospital with only a short time to live. You immediately drop everything to be there. They become the most valuable thing in the world, despite whatever else you had planned.
Most of us need to stop lying to ourselves about how busy we are and admit that our priorities are the real problem.
Every Sunday morning, I ask people, “How are you today?”
The usual responses greet me, “I am fine” or “Just fine” or “All is well” or “I’m good.” Everyone seems so happy and has it all together.
That is until something happens. You get to know that person, or something hidden becomes public. Then, suddenly you find out that they were not fine or doing good.
Why do we share these lies? Why is it acceptable to tell people utter fabrications?
One reason is that no one wants to be “that person.” No one wants to be the person who dumps all their garbage on you with a simple question. No one wants to be perceived as the constant complainer. So we smile and say our happy words.
While it may be acceptable to say these types of lies to strangers, each one of us needs someone with whom we can share our struggles. We need to find a safe place or a safe person where we can open up about our sins and insecurities. To grow in the Lord, we are required to have people who will call us out on our lies and force us to speak the truth.
This is not a post encouraging you to lie; rather, it is one calling you to find a place to speak the truth. If you don’t discover it, you will eventually begin to believe your own lies and develop other acceptable sins.
There is a difference between these two.
When you are counseling, you are trying to be objective. It requires asking probing questions and carefully listening to the responses. You then make observations based on their information in a way that is the most helpful for the person.
When you are offering your advice, you are embracing your bias. You use your experience and knowledge to help another person through a situation. You don’t ask many questions but spend your time speaking of how the other person should do things.
There is a time and place for both. We will need to discern when it is proper to use the correct one. But, a fear of mine is that numerous Christians think they are a good counselor when they are really just dispensing advice. A wise counselor is hard to find.
One flaw that any of us can make in dealing with other people is simply inserting our own experience. Instead of gathering facts and asking questions, we jump to conclusions. Often these are not based on our experiences with that person but on dealing with others.
Whenever we use our history as a gauge for the actions of others, we assume that things will turn out the same. Unfortunately, that is simply not a fair comparison.
This works itself out in both positive and negative ways. We can expect evil from a good person and expect goodness from an evil person.
Just because your father did something awful does not mean your husband will too. Likewise, just because your mom handled situations this way doesn’t mean your wife will too.
These are dangerous assumptions that usually leave one party hurt and confused.
Before you draw conclusions on the behavior of others, take the time to ask yourself: Is this coming from what I have seen from this person previously, or am I inserting the actions of others onto their life?
Every successful venture helps you know more about what it takes to succeed.
Every failed attempt gives you an education you never desired.
Either way, you gain vital knowledge with every life experience. This is true of life and faith.
You can learn by sitting in a classroom, reading a book, or listening to a wise teacher. Those are all good things to help you grow. I do each one of these as part of my job.
But I think we can all agree that if you were going to hire a new employee, we would want them to have some experience. A four-year degree would be excellent, but we would also like four years of experience rather than eight years in college. You can only learn some things by practically using your skills.
Whenever I encounter someone and ask them to help with a ministry, I often get the response of “I just don’t know enough.” Usually, what they need is not another book to read because they have all the head knowledge required. What would help them is some hands-on experience. Unfortunately, the very thing they need is the thing from which they are pushing away.
Often, the best place to grow your faith is by saying yes to ministry. Stepping up and trying to do something for God will always stretch and grow you. Whether you succeed or fail doesn’t matter because you will learn and become a stronger believer.
“God’s timing is not our timing.”
Over a lifetime as a believer, I have proven that statement repeatedly. God shows up in my life at unexpected times and does things I never imagined. He never seems to be early, but he has also never been late.
I guess that you know this to be true also.
Yet, we are always surprised at his timing.
I imagine many of us feel like God is not going to show up soon. He appears to be running behind. We are losing our patience. The light of hope has moved further into the future than we wanted.
Sometimes faith is simply holding on when everyone else has given up – Trusting and knowing that God will show up and do his mighty work at the exact right moment. His timing is truly not our timing. And timing is everything.
You have to turn the doorknob on my front door to the left to get it to open. For some reason, it does not work to the right, and everyone in our family learned to turn it left.
My wife and I keep an extra refrigerator in our garage filled with drinks like various sodas, water, sports drinks, and teas. Everyone who comes to our house is more than welcome to grab anything they want to drink at any time.
I could spend several pages listing all the unique rules to our house. None of these things are written down anywhere. Yet everyone who lives there knows them and follows the rules.
Then a guest comes, and sometimes we forget to tell them these things. They will sit quietly waiting for something to drink with their meal. They will struggle to get in and out of our front door. Suddenly we recognize they don’t know our rules and fill them in.
Every community of people has unwritten rules about life and behavior. This is a big problem in the Church. When guests check out our worship and seek to learn more about the Lord, these rules will make them feel like unwanted outsiders.
One goal of every Church should be to make guests feel welcome. Sometimes this comes through handshakes and polite conversations. Other times it comes from eliminating the unwritten rules and treating everyone like an insider.