Henry Ford once said, “Obstacles are those frightful things you see when you take your eyes off your goals.” In the same way, “Obstacles are those frightful things you see when you take your eyes off God’s promises.” Today God gave me the opportunity to identify and confront my own giants. It reminded me of this song from the musical Into the Woods through which Jack (from Jack and the Beanstalk) described his encounter with the giants in the sky.
Although God can sometimes use worry, fear, doubt, and anxiety to protect us, it’s a different story when He tells us to do something. Forms of unbelief become an insult to Him. It is as if we are underestimating His power to affect our lives and the things around us. It is also as if God cannot be trusted. In the reading two days ago it said, “God can be trusted because He is faithful and perfect in integrity. Integrity is a rigid, unyielding, and steadfast adherence to the truth.” It is because of this nature of God that we can be confident in His promises.
One of my giants (and I think many other people have this too) is that because of what I know of the world and the things I have experienced in the past, I don’t trust people. People have failed me many times and that frustrates me. Or maybe that’s not it. Maybe it’s myself whom I don’t trust anymore. Maybe my real giant is that I don’t have an eye for people. Or maybe deep in my heart I’ve been blaming God for allowing me to meet the wrong people. Whatever it is, the fact is that this a terrible giant that keeps me from inheriting my promised land.
I might have been looking at things only from a performance-based, transactional view point. I might have been too preoccupied making a record of rights and wrongs, as well as benefits and losses. I think this stems from my strong sense of justice. I want things to be fair. Mercy, unconditional love, forgiveness are romantic notions that are wonderful only when you are at the receiving end. If you’re the one giving it all the time and the one people expect it from, it becomes exhausting and unfair. I’ve experienced having other people take advantage of the fact that I am a Christian, who is called to forgive and be merciful. They also know Christians don’t retaliate. They intentionally offend me then demand mercy and forgiveness insincerely. To give mercy and forgiveness is for the offended party to decide. It is unmerited favor and not something people who hurt you should demand from you. That is the case but I have met people who even guilt trip me into thinking that I’m not being a good Christian if I don’t forgive them. Christians aren’t pushovers. We are also not stupid. I know I’m strong in the Lord but that doesn’t mean people have the right to keep testing my limits. I know people are not black and white. There is good and bad in everyone. I’ve experienced people’s kindness too. However, I think the trauma of my encounters with bad people has inhibited me from giving other people a chance to even get to know me.
The reflection guide asked, “What will you do to defeat your giants?” I know the right answer is to trust God and give people a chance. I’ll be honest, Lord. I want to do it according to Your will but I don’t want to get hurt anymore. I’m surrendering it to you. I’ll try opening myself up to people this year. Help me to thread with prudence. I’m praying that only the right people will gravitate towards me. You know my heart.