Wednesday, December 21, 2016

Reacting and responding

"Life is 10% what happens to you and 90% how you react to it." (Charles R. Swindoll) I am going to perfectly honest with you here - sometimes life just throws us curve balls! I used to play fast-pitch softball, so when I saw a ball coming at me, I usually knew when to swing so I could make a connection with the ball - at least most of the time. Whenever that pitcher threw me a curve, I usually missed! I wasn't counting on it coming at me quite that way, so I didn't have time to adjust or plan for that curve. This is how life is - things come at us and we rarely have time to adjust for the way the present themselves - we just have to be ready to "deal" the very best we can and leave the rest in God's capable hands.

Therefore, since we have been made right in God’s sight by faith, we have peace with God because of what Jesus Christ our Lord has done for us.  Because of our faith, Christ has brought us into this place of undeserved privilege where we now stand, and we confidently and joyfully look forward to sharing God’s glory.  We can rejoice, too, when we run into problems and trials, for we know that they help us develop endurance.  And endurance develops strength of character, and character strengthens our confident hope of salvation. And this hope will not lead to disappointment. For we know how dearly God loves us, because he has given us the Holy Spirit to fill our hearts with his love. (Romans 5:1-5 NLT)


I used to be pretty good at hitting those fast pitches, but I haven't practiced in ages, so I know I would be less than stellar at it today. My vision has changed, not to mention my reflexes have slowed down. My body doesn't possess the strength it used to, and my upper torso is not as toned as it used to be! In essence, life could throw me a curve ball right now and I'd probably watch it go right past me before I even had a chance to react to it. Why? I am out of practice! I haven't used those skills in quite some time. In dealing with the things life sends our way, sometimes we get too "out of practice" with how it is we are to "react" to them. When we are, we find ourselves reacting in quite a different manner than we perhaps should be reacting!

If life is ten percent of what happens to us - those things outside our control - and ninety percent of how we react to it - those things within our control - then I think I am saying we are not as "in control" as we might have thought we were. In other words, we are not "dealing" with life with all the resources we have available to us. When I played ball, I had a batting coach, a line coach, a team coach, and a base coach.  Along the way, each one played a part in helping me "read the signs" of what pitch was coming next, who was leading off to run, where to throw the ball - in general, they taught me how to "react" to what was happening in the game.

In our everyday experiences, we might not realize it, but we have skills we learn from our study of the word, others we can attribute to observing how others have handled similar situations, and those which we don't really know we have until we hear that still small voice urging us to respond to something in a particular manner. It isn't "one" coach we have in life that gives us the skills to deal with life's pitches, it is the "plethora" of coaching which occurs through all the things God gives us to help guide us in our walk. The still small voice may be the most difficult to heed, but it often is the one niggling us just a tiny bit immediately prior to us reacting.

Do you know what a reaction is?  It is our "change" in response to some stimulus. For example, when we see a ball coming at our face, we flinch. We change the way we were facing, withdraw a little, and maybe even duck or move a little because we don't want to be hit head on. If what Swindoll says is true, then we "change" in response to what comes our way more than we might realize. Change is not always a bad thing - for the change in response to a stimulus might be what produces a positive outcome in our hearts, minds, or spirit. To not react is to allow ourselves to either become victims of whatever hits us, or to just settle for things always taking us down.

Take for example someone attempting to goad us into an argument. We can "react" by going down that same path of immature reactionary response, or we can listen to the tiny voice of the Holy Spirit niggling at our conscience telling us to "react" with the love of Jesus. It is clearly a war of responses - for everything within us might want to respond with a full-fledged fight to the finish, but deep inside we know Christ is just yearning to shine on through. Whichever stimulus we react to will become the way we respond - either in equal anger, or in a tremendously meek and loving way that tells the other individual clearly that we love them too much to allow anger to destroy our relationship. Just sayin!