|I found myself reflecting this week about my past; my attitudes and actions. Have you ever found yourself immersed in conflict and|
Years ago when I first moved from Chicago to Texas, I came face to face with something I didn’t expect. By that time, I wasn’t the Black kid growing up in Chicago, living in a predominately White community. Back then, that kid heard Whites call him some of the most vile, insensitive things a person could say to another human. In school, I had to endure the constant mocking from White students while teachers ignored their taunts. Between classes, I had to always be aware while walking down the stairs because a White student would often spit on unsuspecting Black students.
I learned about hatred at a young age growing up in Chicago.
But when I moved to Texas, I was a professional; I was a software programmer. I felt good about my accomplishments, what I achieved and where I’d come from.
And then one night, I met someone familiar, someone who I’d forgotten about for years; my old enemy hate.
As my wife and I stood inside the doorway of a restaurant, I heard someone speak to me on my right. I turned in the direction of the voice and asked the White man,
“What did you say?”
It was more a case of me being rhetorical than asking him for clarification because I knew exactly what was spoken, and then he said it again.
I stood there for a moment and then my emotions erupted as I invited the man to step outside. Since he was on his way out of the restaurant, I followed him but he wasn’t interested in fighting; by now though, I couldn’t hold back the roaring tide of my emotions.
As he quickly jumped behind the wheel of his car and locked the door, I began kicking the side of his car. This man, who had uttered a simple word to me, cowered inside his car waiting for his family to get in so he could leave.
I continued kicking in the side panel of his door, shouting for him to get out of the car but I was unable to persuade him. Finally he drove away.
My wife who had been pulling on my arm to no avail stood silent and embarrassed by my behavior. I remained incensed.
When I finally returned home, I sat down, my anger still simmering at its boiling point. It’s strange how the Holy Spirit chooses to speak to me at a time when I want to say,
“Not now God.”
“What do you believe is more important, the truth or a lie?”
I still wanted to feel angry, but He had my attention and I replied,
“The truth is more important.”
And then He asked me,
“Then why do you believe a lie?”
I was puzzled by this question and I immediately protested,
“What lie have I believed Lord?”
“You believe you are what that man called you tonight.”
“Lord, I don't believe that!”
Here I am, disputing the Omniscient God of all creation that, I know what I know; and then He said something I couldn’t argue with.
“You had to believe that you are that word because you went to a tremendous effort to disprove it; only the offendable are offended.”
I wanted to tell God that, offendable is not a word but I sat there quietly considering the possibility that perhaps God could be right. I know that sounds so totally arrogant but that was how I thought back then. My thoughts retraced the events that occurred earlier.
Why did I react so strongly? Why did I feel the need to disprove what was spoken to me? Did I actually believe what I heard?
Thoughts of my childhood years replayed in my mind like a video. I could recall those voices of my childhood, angry, insolent Whites shouting at me; reminding me I was unwanted. Voices reminding me I was unwelcome, not good enough, smart enough or competent enough; I just didn’t measure up to their standards.
As I’ve learned to identify with Christ, I’ve seen my ego checked at the door of faith. My life is no longer defined by who I am but by the life of Christ in me. I can no longer be reduced to a shamed example of Christ, I claim my manhood in Christ. I am not defined by the words of man but by the word of God.
There was a time in my life when I felt I was due respect for what I’d accomplished; I’ve done nothing to distinguish myself apart from Christ. Whatever I’ve been able to accomplish in my life is a direct result of the immeasurable grace and blessings of God.
It’s not a matter of what defines me, it’s who defines me.
I choose Christ.
You are the Omniscient One, you know all things; You are intimately acquainted with me and my weaknesses. You know the scars I bear and the hurts I’ve felt. I acknowledge that words have a measure of power to hurt but words are not greater than You. I will not allow my life to be shaped by the human depiction of what I am. Your word declares,
“…do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, that you may prove what the will of God is, that which is good and acceptable and perfect.”
I thank You Lord God, that I am committed to renewing my mind daily, I am being transformed by the power that raised Jesus from the dead. I thank You that, ”I have been crucified with Christ; and it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me; and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me, and delivered Himself up for me.” I seek to demonstrate Your will in my life; Your will is good, acceptable and perfect. Thank You for being the God who heals and restores; Your grace and love are beyond measure. You are worthy of all praise and glory. Amen.