"Do not be wise in your own eyes;
Fear the LORD and turn away from evil."
Fear the LORD and turn away from evil."
About a month ago I went through one of the most character building, attitude changing, and spirit shaping times of my entire life. I was satisfied in God alone. Alone. Only Him. I was content in who He is rather than in my circumstances.
Here's the story. It was the field day between our campus and our sister campus in Waukesha, Wisconsin. It was to be a day full of soccer, ultimate frisbee, softball, and football. I signed up for the ultimate frisbee and football teams and made both of them. Our ultimate frisbee team lost, but I wasn't that upset because I was looking forward to playing some football. This coming game would be the first official football game I played for almost an entire year since last year's season. I went over to the field about twenty minutes before we were to start so that I could warm up and stretch before everybody else was there. I was pumped and totally ready to play some football. To make a long story short: I went in a total of four plays the entire game and spent the rest of the time on the sidelines. Throughout the game my heart went through a tornado of emotions. I was disappointed because I wasn't being able to play. I had given up going to help out at youth group in order to make the last practice because the coach said it was important. I had put out a lot of effort at the practices and had been fully expecting to play. I was angry because I was being treated like some "benchwarmer." I had spent less time on the sideline during my last year of football than I did playing in this game. I was sad because nobody cared that I wasn't playing. It didn't even seem like my teammates noticed that I didn't get to go in. We ended up losing; what hurt was not losing, rather it was not being able to play. A thousand questions were swirling around inside my mind. Why was the coach not putting me in? Doesn't he know how good I am? Don't I deserve to be in there? Aren't I as good, if not better, as (at least) some of the other players? One moment I felt like punching the fence hoping that physical action would relieve my anger. The next I felt like crying. The game was over and there was nothing I could do about my situation.
After the game we took a group picture on the bleachers. I went over to the stands portraying almost no emotion on my face as I went and just chose a spot and sat down. As everyone was settling in, a good friend told me that I had done a good job in the game. I just turned around to face her with a blank look on my face and looked at her for a few seconds then went back to staring ahead into space without saying a word. As I sat there I heard her say something to the effect that I was apparently angry. I didn't know what to think about this whole ordeal. I was filled with anger and grief but I also knew that I shouldn't really be having this bad attitude. My reaction was to simply shut off any kind of display of emotion and try to figure out what was going on inside my head. The drive back to school was about fifteen minutes long and I struggled with everything that I was thinking and feeling after this game.
I began to have a change of heart as I examined all that had happened with this football game. I definitely had a reason to be angry from a worldly perspective. However, I also knew that I shouldn't be angry about this game. I had been able to be on the team; some people didn't even make the team. I was able to play a couple of plays when other people did not get to play at all. My pettiness was beginning to be revealed as I looked deeper into my heart. What was I angry about? Not being able to play a football GAME? Here I was worried, angry, and on the verge of tears over a silly game (in the grand scheme of things). People all over the world are starving and dying and here I sit complaining about not being able to play as much as I wanted to. My selfishness was yet to be revealed in full. I looked out the window of the car and viewed a magnificent sunset. It was a beautiful mix of orange, yellow and red. This fairly ordinary sunset made me remember how utterly enormous God is. Here was a simple act of nature that is but a whisper of the glory and majesty of God and yet is like a mighty shout against my pride.
My entire problem was that I was completely focused on myself and not thinking at all about God or others. I was wallowing in pity and burning with indignation because I hadn't gotten what I wanted. I had put my hopes into this game and was tragically let down. I was then faced with a choice: would I continue to be discontent in my circumstance or would I find contentment solely in who God is and not even worry about my circumstances. I chose to be content in God. This was one of the most difficult choices of my life to make, but it was amazing how I suddenly seemed to feel a cascade of peace and joy roll over me. None of my previous problems mattered anymore because I was able to find total contentment in God. I recognized that this game had hurt me emotionally, but I could also praise God for using the game to draw me into a deeper understanding of His character and my standing before Him. Never before have I felt such a close fellowship with God. For the first time ever in my life I chose to obey God when there was no apparent profit whatsoever in choosing obedience.
This experience has encouraged me through other trials I have faced since then. I am able to look back on this and remember that I can be content in God aside from any circumstance. I know that God is molding me according to his plans for my life. My only prayer is that I humble myself in surrender to His will so that I will be molded through obedience rather than broken in disobedience.