It’s true – lessons can be learned from life’s irritations IF I’m willing to see the bigger picture.
I had the privilege of taking care of my neighbor’s pets while they were visiting family. The three dogs, three cats and a guinea pig, all under one roof, promised to keep me busy.
I didn’t realize the animals would play a key role in teaching me an important lesson.
Maybe it was the rain that made the animals unpredictable, but the morning routine was anything but routine. From the time I arrived, the pets would not cooperate. One of the dogs refused to go outside, retreating farther into the house, regardless of my coaxing. Two of the cats had entertained themselves with ornaments retrieved from a hutch I was certain they were unable to reach. What was going on?
I continued to entice the uncooperative dog outside. Maybe a treat would convince her to step over the threshold? I was pretty sure she needed to empty her bladder after eight hours in the house. She refused to budge. That’s when it happened: with the door wide open, one of the cats took advantage of the opportunity. Quicker than I could shut the door, the cat darted out into the yard.
Fortunately the rain acted in my favor – the cat didn’t run far before realizing the warm, dry house was far better than the cold, wet out-of-doors. He let me pick him up, and even endured my scolding as I deposited him back in the house. I carefully shut the door behind me, scanning the kitchen to make sure all pets were accounted for.
I was stunned – there was a lesson here.
Too often, the wide-open door is a picture of my heart. I fail to guard my heart and as a result, all kinds of things get in that shouldn’t be there. King Solomon, writing under the inspiration of the Holy Ghost, put it this way: “Keep thy heart with all diligence; for out of it are the issues of life,” (Proverbs 4:23; KJV).
I may be doing a decent job of protecting my heart from the things I think of as “big” sins (killing, stealing, adultery, etc.), but while I’m focused on those things, other sins are able to slip by: pride, lying, complaining, a bad attitude.
In God’s economy, sin is sin—there is no classification: “big” sin or “small” sin.
Agreeing with God’s definition of sin and putting on the armor He provides (Ephesians 6:11-17), are the right steps for me to take in order to guard my heart. The devil is depicted as a roaring lion intent on destroying me (1 Peter 5:8).
But God is greater than my enemy. When I humble myself and rely on God’s strength to overcome the devil, share my doubts and struggles with the Lord, and stay alert to the enemy’s schemes, my heart will stay protected.
God adds a beautiful promise: “But the God of all grace, who hath called us unto his eternal glory by Christ Jesus, after that ye have suffered a while, make you perfect, stablish, strengthen, settle you,” (1 Peter 5:10).
Are you guarding the door to your heart? What step will you take today to protect yourself?
Prayer: Heavenly Father, thank You for using life’s irritations to teach me important lessons. Forgive me for thinking I can guard my heart on my own. Help me humble myself and look to You for the protection my heart needs. Thank You for the promise that when I face trials with You, I am made more complete. In Jesus’ name, Amen.