Why God Wants Us to Open Our Eyes to See Circumstances as They Are
By Demensio and Dolores Barton
In one very old fable, a fox really wanted some newly ripened grapes, but try as he might, and he did for quite some time, he couldn’t reach even the lowest hanging delicious orb. After being drenched in the sweat of his efforts and seeing that his desire was foiled he disdainfully declared, “Those grapes are much too green and sour. Even If I could reach them, I would not eat them. So they are nothing to me.” Then with a snort, he went off in search of a new opportunity.
You know an interesting thing concerning this little fable is that on occasion I have been more like the grapes than the fox. Just hanging around, doing my own thing, “Not bothering anybody”, and then out of nowhere “Bada Bing Bada Boom” someone who has an agenda, of which I am oblivious, is very unhappy with me. To be misrepresented or misunderstood is nearly never a great position to find one’s self. It was during one of those times that the Lord taught me a lesson that I have carried with me from then.
One of my managers had begun to make life very hard for me. Our relationship had gone pretty well for some years, but at a certain point and for whatever reason, his disposition started to sour. I began to feel like I was David, and he was King Saul. It was during a time of promotion… a time when, for me in the company, things should have been getting better. There were some pretty pointed moments where I felt like if he, the manager, had held something in his hands I would have had to duck.
This went on for some time and with every passing day, my wife was getting more and more through with the whole situation. Actually, my wife and I often had tough conversations and even “intense moments of fellowship” (i.e. we argued) over why I was “Letting them/him walk all over me!” My wife’s a little lady, but she can be fiery, especially when she gets into her protective lioness mode. Though she saw very plainly what was happening, I was oblivious. I simply made excuse after excuse for his conduct. In my wife words, “One lame excuse after another”.
See as the grape, I had not realized the effect that the fox’s bad press releases were having. The fox declared that the grapes were green, sour and of no use. That is the story that he would tell wherever he went. It made him feel better. Like the grape, I just kept hanging around, but in my “Blissful Ignorance,” I had not noticed that the garden was becoming toxic. If things were allowed to continue, the grapes would be cast out!
My wife was used by God to give me a wakeup call. If I didn’t change what I was doing, things were only going to get worse. The fox, acting like he didn’t want to eat the grapes, which is why he was so “Hangry” in the first place, did nothing to resolve the grapes dilemma. My manager, the fox, was getting “Hangrier” by the week.
One evening after a particularly “intense moment of fellowship”, with my wife, I decided to talk to God about it. After all, I felt like I was being a good Christian with how kindly I had been handling this situation, and surely He would back me up on this one. Well, it didn’t quite work out like I thought.
It felt, I am not saying He meant it this way, but it felt like God took off from where my wife and I ended. After a few moments I was led to reread Matthew chapter 5. Yes, the whole chapter. It was here that God taught me one of my most helpful Life Lessons.
I had been reading at a pretty good pace when He said, “Stop, you need to reread that.” So I did and was ready to continue, and He said, “Stop, you need to reread that one again!” So I did and was ready to move on again, having done my Christian duty of rereading that one verse and He said, “Your answer is in that verse, try reading it again….” I finally got the point… OHHHHH, I needed to read it for my own personal use.
The verse was Matthew 5: 44
But I say, love your enemies! Pray for those who persecute you!
This time I really paid attention and He highlighted the words “enemies” and “those who persecute.” Then He told me this. “You cannot do this verse except you first acknowledge who you are truly dealing with. Loving your enemies is only carried out after you open your eyes and tell the truth: this person is not my friend; they are an enemy. Praying for those who persecute you has its true power shown, after you recognize that they, whoever they are, have been persecuting you.” Then He said the following… “Stop lying! See things for what they are… but handle them God’s Way!”
I was floored. I never thought of the excuses I made for others as lying, but God sure did! Then, He challenged me with this statement, “I do not have to grow as a person when I act like people are not doing what they are doing and “Everything is Awesome.” If they weren’t an enemy or if it was just a mistake then I wouldn’t have to forgive them. Consequently, if I don’t have to forgive then I don’t need to draw nearer to God so that He can give me the strength to walk in love with my neighbor.
When God told me to, “See things for what they truly are, but to always handle them His way!” I felt in my heart like I was having a Gandalf moment. Like when Gandalf said to Bilbo that “I can’t guarantee that you shall return, but if you do, you won’t be the same hobbit that left the shire.” Likewise, in my heart I knew that once I start to see things for what they really are, I could never return to my naïve Hobbit like existence ever again. I would have to grow as a child of God. And also, I would have to go and tell my wife, “Yes dear, you are right!”
Needless to say, I accepted God’s counsel and repented to my wife. It has yielded great dividends. I became much wiser in my dealings with my manager, and we eventually cleared the air. The truth was that it had been a big misunderstanding on the part of my manager, in regards to my promotion. So once we talked it out, everything was fine.
As a special note, I want to share that we never truly know who is watching us as we walk out the challenges of life. But our examples do not fall on blind eyes or deaf ears. In this case, it was one of my sons that took special interest in what was going on. Here are his thoughts… in his own words (I didn’t even know he was watching):
My parents went through a time where someone that they had great respect for listened to rumors, gossip and lies about them and started being openly hostile toward them. Kind of a David and Saul situation. Ok, as a kid I watched to see what my parents were going to do in this situation. The thing that stuck out to me was their integrity, forgiveness and love they showed the people who were doing them wrong. I know for a fact if my parents handled this situation wrong it would have totally turned me off toward God, church and Jesus.
I never knew that he even understood what was going on at the time, but as seen in his statement, a life paradigm was set for him by observing our actions, which no measure of talking could ever have done!
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