'Bringing peace'

Sunday Reflection

13th September 2020

'test me'

23 Search me, God, and know my heart;
   test me and know my anxious thoughts.
24 See if there is any offensive way in me,
   and lead me in the way everlasting.
   ....Psalm 139:23-24 (NIV)

I was talking with a rector friend of mine
early morning in the other day
who was telling me about an email
he had received late the previous afternoon.
It was a real rant,
complaining of what he had done
and what he had said.
His actions had been to follow
C of E official guidelines
and he couldn't think that he had said
to cause such a vitriolic response.

Perhaps this touches a chord for you.
You have been going about your day
as usual when suddenly,
you discover there's been a major
misunderstanding which comes
out of the blue and takes a side swipe at you.

You didn't know how it came about,
you hadn't meant any harm,
but someone's feelings were hurt
and your motives and integrity
are brought into question.

When this sort of situation has happened to me,
which it has more than once,
my immediate response
is to spring into overdrive
and defend myself.
I'm skimming over the email,
formulating a response.
I need to fix it immediately,
who can I call to set the record straight?
Who will vouch for me?

When I asked my friend
about his reply to the email,
he said that he was going to reply
when he got back into his office;
when he received such emails,
which dropped into his box
on a fairly regular basis,
he always slept on it
and prayed before replying.

How wise!
The thing is that we do not
have to set things right immediately.
Sometimes, more likely always,
God wants us to pray before we respond,
listening to him for guidance
and allowing him to cleanse us
and remove the urge to clear our names.
He knows our hearts and intensions.

I like to use Psalm 139:24-25
when I'm tempted to reply rashly;

23 Search me, God, and know my heart;
   test me and know my anxious thoughts.
24 See if there is any offensive way in me,
   and lead me in the way everlasting.

During knee-jerk moments
following a misunderstanding,
perhaps composing a hasty email
or spouting off defensive word
can add fuel to an already smouldering fire.

God is the perfect peace maker,
able to help us
approach conflict with grace.
We can allow him to calm
those defensive feelings
so that we can return to the situation
with understanding and,
when appropriate, reconciliation.

in a certain situation we were right?
But what if we weren't?
or what if there's no right or wrong
to the situation at all?
Feelings are often in a grey area.
While unpleasant,
it's alright to be in a place of discomfort
for a while because it's the only way
we are going to grow
in empathy and understanding.

Sometimes the best way to fix things
is not to act immediately;
and always,
the best place to start is with the Lord.
He will bring hardened feelings
to our attention
so that we can embrace the discomfort
and deal with it before reacting.

We are all imperfect people
who are going to miss the mark
from time to time.

We will get things wrong
and hurt others unintentionally.
Each set of circumstances is unique,
but whether we are taking five minutes,
or even longer to pray over the situation,
we are sure to respond with a clearer head
and better understanding
of our own heart if we talk to the Lord first.

2 'Be completely humble and gentle;
   be patient, bearing with one another in love.
3 Make every effort to keep
   the unity of the Spirit
   through the bond of peace.'
   .... Ephesians 4:2-3 NIV