"Still other seed fell on good soil, where it produced a crop—a hundred, sixty or thirty times what was sown. Whoever has ears, let them hear." Matthew 13:8-9 (NIV)
I noticed my 12-year-old son involved in a commotion on the other side of the sanctuary. He was sitting with his youth group, just like he does every Sunday, on the opposite side from where my husband and I do.
I walked over there and motioned for my son to follow me into the lobby. There, we could discuss why an altercation was occurring in the church pew where he sat with his friends.
Apparently someone wanted to sit in the spot where he and another friend were sitting. And so, a middle-school-boy-scuffle ensued. Even though he had tears—due in part to receiving an elbow in the eye, but also hurt by pride and anger—he insisted on returning to sit with the rest of the youth.
Our pastor's sermon was about anger that morning. He shared ways we should respond, according to God's Word and gave a few examples:
A fool is quick-tempered, but a wise person stays calm when insulted. (Proverbs 12:16 NIV)
Whoever conceals their sins does not prosper, but the one who confesses and renounces them finds mercy. (Proverbs 28:13 NLT)
When our pastor ended his sermon, soft music played as the congregation was invited to come to the altar if they felt God leading them to do so.
I noticed a young man at the altar, bent knees, buried face in his arms, praying. He looked familiar, but seemed bigger than my son ... Could it be?
Bending over to look closely, I discovered the young man kneeling at the altar was my son.
My heart pounded as I watched my little man becoming a young man in Christ right before my eyes. His heart had been moved by the Word of God ... straight to the altar.
After church, I asked Michael what he'd prayed about. "Mom, I listened to the pastor talk about anger, and felt bad for getting upset at my friend. So I asked God to forgive me and to help me control my temper."
I was at a loss for words for three reasons: my son was actually paying attention to the sermon! His heart was hurting and he was listening for God's leading. And when God spoke to his heart, scriptures resounded in his mind and compelled him to move.
Three simple steps: pay attention to God's voice, listen when He speaks through His Word, and move when He calls.
I may not have physical altercations with others, as boys often do. But I do have emotional and spiritual altercations as I face the trials, demands, temptations and frustrations that life brings.
My son's boldness to admit his need for forgiveness and strength, and to actually walk down to the altar, has prompted me to view my "altercations" in a new light.
Instead of letting my struggles take me down and make me feel discouraged, I'm following in my son's footsteps. Paying attention to God's voice, listening when He speaks through His Word, and moving when He calls.
Today, let's do the same. Let's respond to God's Word and lay our trials, fears and temptations at the foot of the cross, allowing God to mend our heart. With the faith of a child, we too can let our "altercations" lead us to the altar.
Dear Lord, today I want to pay attention to Your voice and move when You call. Please make my heart soft to forgive my friends and family. Thanks for Your help in this. In Jesus' Name, Amen.
With this the platoon was overjoyed, as Private Peters was overweight and terribly slow. But then the drill sergeant finished his statement: "Now for the bad news. Private Peters will be driving a truck."