"What man of you, having a hundred sheep, if he loses one of them, does not leave the ninety-nine in the wilderness, and go after the one which is lost, until he finds it? And when he has found it, he lays it on his shoulders, rejoicing. And when he comes home, he calls together his friends and neighbors, saying to them, 'Rejoice with me, for I have found my sheep which was lost!'"
April 11, 2012
About two years ago the company Jon works for was sub-contracted by a large international company to build a machine for their Germany location. Jon was the project manager and was told that he would need to go to Germany for the commissioning. The original target date set for this to take place was September 2010. We were excited and had decided that this trip was a chance in a lifetime, so we would pay my way to travel with Jon. A lot of government permits had to be approved to ship the machine from the US to Germany, there were delays, and the date was bumped back to fall of 2011. Last summer, Jon was contacted once again and told that they were planning on the commissioning taking place in September sometime. As September approached, Jon was told that likely it would be sometime later in the fall. As fall drew near, he was told it would be in December. Yes, this is a long story! In December, the date was changed to February. Then finally, Jon was given the final dates for March and the company he works for was given a purchase order for Jon to go to Germany. At last we were going; or so we thought! Jon made our flight and hotel reservations. I packed our bags and got things ready for us to be gone. We were excited!
The day before we were to leave, Jon received a phone call from one of his contacts in Germany. He was told that a seal had broken in the heat exchanger and they were waiting for a service tech to look at it to see how long it would take to repair. They discussed various other things that Jon could go ahead and work on when he arrived, if the repair was not yet made. We honestly didn't think this was going to delay our trip. Jon said if it was only a seal, it shouldn't take long to fix. His contact told him that he would let him know by 8:00 AM the following morning (which was 45 minutes before we needed to leave for the airport) whether or not to go ahead and come.
The next morning, we were both so excited that we were awake by 4:00 AM! Finally, a little after 5:00 Jon sent an email to his contact in Germany to see if he had found out anything. At 5:30 we heard his phone beep, signaling that he had received an incoming email. With anticipation Jon checked it. Bad news! The problem did more damage than they originally thought and would take about three weeks to repair. Jon was told not to come and to cancel his flight and hotel reservations until further notice.
We were upset! We understood that this problem was no one's fault and that they were wanting to get this machine up and running so they could begin using it; especially since the project was running two years behind. But the timing of the whole thing just really stunk! To be honest, we were both just downright mad!! We weren't mad at any particular person or company, but we were just mad at the whole situation. After the trip being postponed 6-7 times, we thought we were finally going to get to go. We made it until 3 hours before time to leave!
Our moods immediately changed. We went from anticipation and excitement to anger and disappointment in a matter of a few seconds. We were just downright cranky for most of the day. Even though we tried to tell ourselves that there was a reason why we needed to wait until later to travel, and that God had a plan, we were still deeply disappointed. So instead of flying to Germany, I spent the day unpacking our suitcases, hanging clothes back up and putting things away. Jon went ahead and took that Thursday and Friday off work. We stayed home and pouted and felt sorry for ourselves.
Had the postponement happened before I got our bags packed, I don't think I would have been quite so aggravated. I thought, "If this wasn't the right time that God wanted us to go, then why didn't He work out the details beforehand?" And honestly, I'm not sure we can always blame God. There are situations in life where man-made things break and tear up and it affects us; whether it be a machine, car, appliance, etc. I don't think God causes it to happen, but He will help us deal with the consequences when those things do occur.
Jon was given another commissioning date and told to go ahead and book our flight, then the company in Germany would take responsibility for getting our hotel reservations. We got that set up and once again were looking forward to going. Jon was supposed to be there to begin work the Tuesday following Easter. I had read that Easter was the second most celebrated holiday in Germany, second only to Christmas, so since we had no other plans we decided to go a few days early to sightsee and see how they celebrate Easter. But that wasn't to be either! Jon received word that the heat exchanger was not going to be repaired by then, so the trip was going to be postponed yet another week. At least this time we had several days advance notice of the cancellation, but we were still disappointed. We have made reservations for the third time, and will have to wait and see what happens this time! Honestly, after so many delays and postponements, the excitement of the trip has greatly waned. I think we're both very hesitant to become too eager, in case we have to postpone yet again. Once we actually get on the plane and know that we are actually going, then we will become enthusiastic and giddy about our trip once again.
We've all faced situations in our life that has caused us to become upset and angry; whether or not we want to admit it. We've been disappointed by people and/or situations. Sometimes life just doesn't seem fair. Often we blame God because we feel like we need to accuse someone or hold someone responsible.
Perhaps Paul knew what it was to get upset and angry about situations. From scripture is seems as if he got a little irritated at Peter on one occasion, and he seemed to get disappointed at various churches for straying from the gospel. Because of his background of persecuting christians, he must have realized the importance of holding fast to your faith, without wavering. He likely saw situations very straightforward, and made no allowances for gray areas. I also think he probably intimidated a lot of people, for various reasons. When I get to heaven and meet him, I may find out differently.
In Ephesians 4:26 Paul writes, "Be angry, and do not sin; do not let the sun go down on your wrath."
In Psalm 4:4 David writes, "Be angry and do not sin. Meditate within your heart on your bed, and be still." Then in Psalm 37:8 he writes, "Cease from anger, and forsake wrath; do not fret -- it only causes harm."
God knows there are times when we're going to become angry and upset. We all have that emotion within us and it will come out in one way or another during our lifetime. Some may have a tendency towards allowing it to surface more than others, but we still all have our "mad moments". The scripture does not tell us, "Do not be angry," but it says to, "Be angry". But it also doesn't leave it at that. We are not sinning because we feel anger. But if we don't deal with it, then it can become sin.
Paul tells us to not sin; do not let the sun go down on your wrath. In other words, don't hold onto your anger, but let it go. If we harbor anger in our hearts day after day, then it will build until we act upon that anger, which causes us to sin. We will become bitter and revengeful. So it's important to not sleep with anger in your heart, but deal with it before day's end and get rid of it. I believe that David is telling us in Psalm 4:4 that when we are angry, to find someplace where we can be alone (perhaps on your bed) and be quiet. Take time to meditate in our hearts; to think and pray about the situation. If we were to practice doing that, we would save ourselves a lot of heartache. Instead of going somewhere and meditating quietly about what made us angry and working through it, we often speak words that we later regret. We react out of that negative emotion, instead of getting away by ourselves and praying about it. Or if we go someplace to be alone, it's not to pray and think about a resolution to our anger, it's to stew about it and pout.
A while back I got upset with Jon about something. I felt like he was just blowing me off and not really listening to what I was saying. I went outside to mow so that I could be alone and have a pity party; plus our mower had been in the shop being serviced and during the interim our grass had grown a lot and was really tall. Instead of spending that time praying and letting go of being upset, I stewed about it and allowed my irritation to build. Later that evening, I finally had words with my husband and told him why I was so upset. I still didn't feel like he fully understood my point, but I went ahead and ended the argument because I didn't want to fight anymore. That was fine until Jon later commented that I only got in "these moods" about once a month -- but not every month. I really just wanted to smack him! I thought, "He really wasn't being sensitive and listening to my point of view on this, he was only tolerating me because he thought I was just being moody!" But it was bed time and I didn't want to start another argument, so I joked a little about it and let it go for the moment. In all fairness to Jon, I had had all day to think about this subject before springing it on him. I thought I'd came up with a great idea, only to have him shoot it down. I was disappointed and upset that I didn't get my way, and allowed my feelings to dictate what I "thought" Jon was thinking and feeling. We do that more often than we'd care to admit; not only women, but men too!
The point is, sometimes we have to choose to let go of our anger and let it drop. I decided it wasn't worth it to allow this "discussion" to interrupt my rest and it wasn't a battle I wanted to fight at the time. I didn't want to fight with my husband and be angry with him any longer. That's not always an easy choice when we are upset with another individual, but sometimes for our own peace of mind it's the best choice. We've talked about it since that time and have it worked out. At times it may also be best to let an argument go for a time and give both parties time to think about it, then go back and discuss it once everyone is calm and ready to talk and listen.
David wrote in Psalm 37:8, we have to stop being angry and turn our back on wrath. I always thought that wrath sounded like something much worse than just plain old anger, but the definition is: anger, rage, fury, crossness, displeasure, annoyance, irritation. That pretty much covers any level of this negative emotion, from the very least to the greatest. It can be rage and fury, but it can also mean being cross or annoyed at someone or a situation. We've all dealt with those emotions from time to time. But when it happens we need to deal with it, then stop and turn away from it. The scripture goes on to say, "do not fret because it only causes harm."
So in conclusion, those times of anger, whether it be a full-blown rage or a moment of crossness or annoyance, will come. But how are we going to deal with it when it does? Hopefully, next time we will remember these scriptures and handle it the way God shows us, so we will get rid of it quickly.
I've never thought of myself as someone who has a problem with anger. I never raise my voice unless it's to be heard over machinery. Instead, I just keep it all inside, stew on whatever it was, obsess, and get heartburn. Much better. Right?
A few times, I've talked with the person I'm upset with. That always feels so awkward to me. It's hard to just go to someone and tell them I'm upset with them. But it actually worked out better.
When David said to go off alone to contemplate, don't dream of why you were right and the other person is so wrong. Stop to remember that the other person is also God's creation. When you consider someone else's relationship with God, it makes your relationship with them look very different.
Vanilla Buttercream Frosting
1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, softened
3 cups confectioners sugar
1 tsp. Vanilla
3-4 Tbsp. Whipping Cream or whole milk
1/8 tsp. salt
Using a mixer, beat the butter until it is fluffy. Add the vanilla and salt and beat a little more. Add about a quarter of the powdered sugar and cream/milk. Blend the sugar into the butter with a spoon or spatula (this prevents the powdered sugar from flying everywhere), then beat with a mixer. Continue adding the sugar and cream/milk until you've used it all up and the frosting is smooth. If the frosting seems too soft, add a little more powdered sugar. If it seems too stiff, add a little more milk. Mix in food coloring if you desire to make it a different color.
More Bulletin Bloopers: (I really do like these! I was church secretary for many years and know how easy it is to make errors in the bulletin!)
The preacher will preach his farewell message, after which the choir will sing, "Break Forth With Joy".
The outreach committee has enlisted 25 members to make calls on people who are not afflicted with any church.
Please join us as we show our support for Amy and Alan who is preparing for the girth of their first child.
The Pastor would appreciate it if the ladies of the congregation would lend him their electric girdles for the pancake breakfast next Sunday morning.
The audience is asked to remain seated until the end of the recession.
Ushers will eat latecomers.
Action without thought is like shooting without aim. - unknown
We love you!
Loretta & Jon