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Hit By Other's Shrapnel

God is like a great whirlwind, and we are like people trying to get close while carrying huge empty cardboard boxes and while wearing a big sun hat and sunglasses and feathers pinned to our coats. There's no way we're going to get close to the Lord with all that paraphernalia. His very presence is going to blow it off us.

Drawing near to God involves a death of our unhealthy habits. For example, when my household becomes too loud and uncomfortable, I frequently reach for my phone in the hopes of some relief and distraction. I do not automatically ask the Lord for help but he wants me to. After all, he's the only one who can see me through uncomfortable household situations with wisdom, peace, and grace.

But we are human and we like to have things our own way. We can resist God. We can cling to our cardboard boxes and garden hats with all our might while simultaneously trying to approach the great whirlwind. Sometimes, we don't even know we're doing this. We only notice that life has become rather less tolerable than before, and the old ways of coping don't seem to be doing the trick anymore.

Frequently, our resisting the Lord and trying to survive using old habits makes life rather unpleasant for those around us. For example, maybe you handle other people's anger by just giving them what they want. You try to appease them as quickly as possible to avoid any unpleasantness. And maybe the Lord wants to teach you that you're not responsible for making others happy and that you can stand up for yourself. 

While the Lord is trying to loosen your hold on these habits, you may annoy a friend who likes to play devil's advocate and bounce his ideas off his friends. He may feel you aren't much of a friend at all. Others may think you're a push-over and use you as the crutch for their own bad habits. 

Or maybe you don't give in to people's anger, maybe you tend to walk out of the room when things get tense. Maybe you join in the fray. Maybe you're the angry person who causes all the turmoil in the first place. Whatever it is, if we draw near to the Lord, the unhealthy habits will blow away from us. 

But this process usually doesn't happen without a fight. Our very nature compels us to fight to keep our sinful selves alive. It is a brutal struggle. In fact, it's explosive. Our family and friends will most likely be hit with the shrapnel as we wrestle to keep what we've trusted to keep us alive for so long. Nobody wants to let go. No one wants a part of themselves to die.

You may not recall a time you've hurt others with your own shrapnel, but I bet you can think of someone who's hurting you with theirs right now: maybe its how they handle family gatherings or COVID or politics or boundaries or their new spouse or newborn baby or deceased parent. 

We are trying to draw near to the Lord while resisting him desperately, and those around us are going to feel the effects, the shock waves. And when we feel the shrapnel of another, what will we do? Will we push them away? Will we tell them all the ways they've hurt us? Will we keep track of their wrongs? Will we criticize how they're doing life? Will we rage at them?

Or will we let our sun hats fly away in the wind and turn the other cheek?

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