Last Sunday, I noticed a scratch on the hood of my car. Actually, I found multiple scratches on my vehicle. After a terrible week, I felt like this was just the tipping point that was going to send me spinning down a trail of anger and outbursts.
My car is far from being fresh out of the factory. Yet, when I bought it last November, there were little-to-no scratches. Now, it’s outside sparkle has been replaced with hideous scratches.
I wanted to lose my cool over the newly chiseled lines on my hood. But before I could, I found myself replacing frustration with a heart examination. Quickly and delicately, the Lord convicted me of how I’ve allowed outward scratches to distract me from my inward wounds.
I was forced to acknowledge something I’ve never been able to in the past…I’m a bitterly negative person.
You see, in today’s tumultuous times, I’m so quick to get hung up on insignificant distractions in life that I focus on scratches rather than deep wounds.
On the surface, I tend to explode if someone has hurt me or find something out of place. But in reality, the root of the problem is my heart. Most of the time, my outside appearance doesn’t reflect what I feel. Growing up as a southern lady, I’ve learned the art of masking emotions and faking it till I make it. But inside, I want to mope and complain. I want to clench my fist at every inconvenience I face.
Those sneaky little potholes of inconvenience cause me to grumble, complain, and fight with anyone in listening distance. Whether it be car trouble, health, or work-related stress, it’s easy to explode, but so hard to examine the real root of the struggle…our hearts.
On top of those harbored feelings within, the world aids our discontentment and frustration through media content. It broadcasts resentment, anger, disagreements, hurt feelings, etc. And, these problem-causers get away with it too.
Because we let it.
Daily we’re letting minuscule things distract us from our walk with the precious Creator of the world. We’re letting car scratches steal and kill our joy.
But we don’t have to continue.
In His goodness, the Lord gives a helpful and important verse when it comes to dealing with bitterness and negativity that threatens daily lives.
“Do everything without grumbling or arguing, so that you may become blameless and pure, children of God without fault in a warped and crooked generation. Then you will shine among them like stars in the sky,” Philippians 2:14-15.
Don’t we want to strive to be lights in this desperately dark world?
Don’t we want to ignore the things that don’t matter and focus on the one that does?
So often, I let things like scratches on a car hood or forgotten condiments in my drive-thru pick up bag be the things that tilt my world. But in reality, if I’m focused on the Creator’s plans instead of my own, my heart isn’t pulled to grumble or fret. It’s focused on a heavenly kingdom filled with joy and righteousness. And as it says in verse 16, that causes us to shine like stars in the sky.
How we react to these “scratches” shows more of our hearts than we realize. When we focus our minds and hearts on Him, we lose sight of the frustration. Instead, we see hope. And at that moment, we have a glorious opportunity to pour out blessings; rather than acting like a ticking time bomb.
On top of choosing joy, Philippians 2:12 says, “For it is God who works in you to will and to act in order to fulfill his good purpose.”
God, Christ, Jesus, our Lord, is enabling us to fulfill His good purpose. Not sit and yell at a bunch of cats for scratching up a car or the person in the drive-thru line that got your order wrong. No, He is enabling us to shine like stars in the world – for Him.
Other than Jesus, there’s no cure for an unsatisfied and destructive heart. But when we turn our gaze to Him, we can see that He loves us unconditionally, and His promises are more fulfilling than anything this world could offer.
And I don’t know about you, but if I can trade scratches for stars, I’m more than ready to shine.