Love the Inconveniencers

lineI’m notorious at my church for car troubles.

In two separate cases over the years, I’ve experienced car troubles that forced me to drive markedly slower than the speed limit. First it was a trouble where the engine would stay reasonably cool as long as I stayed under about 55 MPH. The other instance was a weird transmission problem – if I slowed down from fourth gear, there would be a noticeable bump and my car would refuse to get back up into fourth gear. Meaning I could not travel over about 55 MPH for fear of over-rpm’ing. (I’m not a car person.)

No doubt this caused consternation for drivers behind me, especially on Montana’s many one-lane highways. Keep in mind that this is the state of “Reasonable and Prudent” fame. I can guess what was going through their minds as they stared endlessly at my tailpipe.

Probably the same thing going through my mind when I’m stuck behind an elderly person nervously counting out change in the express lane.

Or when someone at church doesn’t respond in time for a project because their family life is chaos.

Or when that student disrupted class because he was terrified of getting problems wrong and didn’t know how to admit it.

Or any number of other times when I’m inconvenienced.

“Be kind. Everyone you meet is carrying a heavy burden.” – John Watson

If we could only see what God alone sees.

Never am I more aware of this than when I’m the one inconveniencing with my burden. Now I know the patience with which I hope others treat me. I wonder how our hearts would change if we could see everyone’s burdens, like thought bubbles persisting over their heads.

John Piper recently skewered me when he asked, “When you are full to the brim, you will spill when bumped. What do people feel, acid or grace?”

I know my honest answer. On too many days I’m just keeping my mouth shut, or else I’m a beaker full of death.

But the greater tragedy is – I’m so easily bumped to begin with. Why is that? What is this unholy ledger that awakens within me when I’m blocked even temporarily from a goal? Like most adults, I hide a lot of it. But we all have areas where we’re more easily bumped than others.

I guess, in order to love, we need to be built on a solid foundation.

Lord, help us get over ourselves. Be our everything. Be our foundation, so we are not easily bumped. Fill us to the brim with your grace for the moments we’re bumped. May your Gospel shine through in our patience and kindness.

29 thoughts on “Love the Inconveniencers

  1. One of the saddest things is when a pastor becomes so overwhelmed that they spill mostly acid – as a pastor I see how it can happen, pastors are in a position that includes hearing the burdens of others at a rate that is higher than the average, that being said it does not become right just because there is a reason. A break to meditate on the grace I receive every day from God is a good reminder that I deserve acid from God but get grace and God has a lot more burdens to address than I do

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  2. For these very reasons, I have prayerfully tried to cultivate a habit of asking myself questions when there is an irritation on the road. Because I have migraines with some ugly pre-and post-migraine symptoms and am often the one displaying annoying behavior, I begin asking myself, “What if they’ve lost a loved one today? What if they have a migraine coming, or MS, or Lyme, or epilepsy or Tourettes? What if their spouse just left them or a rebellious teen is in a dangerous situation? What if…? For me, asking myself these sorts of questions – questions I have been a part of in my own life or the lives of my family – helps remind me exactly as you said – God is so patient and forgiving with me. It helps me extend His patience to others. Amen to your prayer – I still have a long way to go on this one.

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  3. This post could not be more timely for me. I have a lot going on right now and I have been praying for about 24 hours that I would not spill acid in the next 48. When I am bumped while in the thick of juggling responsibilities, I just need to remember Who it is I am serving.

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  4. Perfect timing! I was thinking on my run this am, “Blessed are those willing to be inconvenienced, Blessed are the flexible.” In the particular situation I was pondering, I realized It’s not enough to feign hospitality, but to actually host and give up your free time, your space, your sanctuary. Thanks for this note, I too am pierced by the words of Piper.

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  5. I used to look for the longest line in stores because I had Daddy convict me of my impatience. It went on for a couple of years before He released me.
    Don’t know if that meant it worked or whether He just figured there was no sense in having me continue since I wasn’t getting it!

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