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Winter of our Discontent

It begins with a grumbling mood, and yourself still distinct from it: perhaps criticizing it. And yourself, in a dark hour, may will that mood, embrace it. Ye can repent and come out of it again. But there may come a day when you can do that no longer. Then there will be no you left to criticize the mood, nor even to enjoy it, but just the grumble itself going on forever like a machine.   -C.S. Lewis, The Great Divorce


I took the dare at 5:40 pm. I tripped on two and three at 6:24. All it took was one look at a friend’s well “liked”post.

Though the righteous man may fall seven times, he won’t be hurled headlong; for the Lord holds his hand. Up for more at 6:27. 

Now I dare you. 

Yes, you. The one who stole into this hoping for a mommy-blog with a happy end. I don’t know this end; I’m just a week in. But I know it’s needful. It holds promise for this life and the life to come. Will you take the Ella Spees challenge?

It may just save your life. Remember Romans 1: They neither glorified God, nor gave thanks, but their thinking became futile and their foolish hearts were darkened. So began their descent. Our descent if we’re not careful.

A national language? We’ve got one, and it’s not English. It’s entitlement. It’s, You deserve a break today, and Fight for your right. It’s, You deserve a beautiful life. And, The moment you start to wonder if you deserve better, you do. Really? And, If they don’t appreciate you, they don’t deserve you? Who said? Entitlement is our native tongue.

It’s how the serpent spoke to Eve, and she was deceived. Maybe he believed it first, with the angels who did not stay within their own positions of authority (Jude 1:6). Did Satan think, I deserve more, respect, more power and authority? Did he dare compare himself to God? And he would dupe us with his own evil discontent.

Entitlement is a big gun in Satan’s arsenal. But he doesn’t always need to pack it. The lust of the eyes and the pride of life tempt me that way. I think I deserve good sleep and good kids, good friends and good health, human praise and husband’s love, in my love language. My ear craves words in this language: deserve thanks and deserve to stay home and deserve to be heard. All stem from my entitled heart.

I didn’t have to plumb deep to see it seep; there-under my grumbling, impatience and envy. Nourishing other sin-weeds. Jon Bloom posted a probing piece last fall. Lay Aside the Weight of Irritability is also about I deserve and it’s my right.

Our irritability never has its roots in the soils of righteousness. It springs out of the soil of selfishness and springs up fast, like the sin-weed that it is. We get irritated or easily provoked, not when God’s righteousness or justice is scorned, but when something we want is being denied, delayed, or disrupted. It works like this:

  • When I’m weary I want rest, but if it’s denied/delayed/disrupted I get irritated.
  • When I’m sick or in pain I want relief, but if it’s denied/delayed/disruptedI get irritated.
  • When I’m preoccupied I want uninterrupted focus, but if it’s denied/delayed/disrupted I get irritated.
  • When I’m running late I want to avoid appearing negligent, but if it’s denied/delayed/disrupted I get irritated.
  • When I’m disappointed I want my desire fulfilled, but if it’s denied/delayed/disrupted I get irritated.

Entitlement breeds irritation. And impatience and anger and envy and adultery and all manner of sins. It’s a gateway drug. High on it, we’re blind to God’s goodness. We blend into the crooked culture rather than shine, doing everything without grumbling or complaining. We fall short of his glory.

We’re kids at the beach all day, who get two scoops on the way home, and cry for more. They neither gave thanks. My right and I deserve undermine gratitude. Entitled drives out In everything give thanks and This is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.

Deserve and by grace cannot coexist in our hearts. Entitlement or gratitude; one will drive out the other. 

I deserved the raise, that praise. But, What do you have that you did not receiveWe cannot have two masters. Jesus isn’t looking for 60-40 split. We can’t serve self with my rights and I deserve and Christ with from him and through him and to him are all things. To Him be glory forever. 

We cannot and that’s why I took the dare, and why I challenge you.  Extremis malis extrama remedia.

Ella Spees was a missionary to Africa’s poor for 52 years, in weather so hot she had to drag in the thermometer so it wouldn’t self-destruct at 120°. She set a sky-high standard with her “5 Holy Habits for Contentment.” Practice them to clear holy ground.  Gratitude will grow.

1. Never allow yourself to complain about anything-even the weather.
2. Never picture yourself in any other circumstance or someplace else.
3. Never compare your lot with another’s.
4. Never allow yourself to wish this or that had been otherwise. 
5. Never dwell on tomorrow – remember that tomorrow is God’s, not ours.

Ellas’ five are not for the faint-hearted. But is any discipline pleasant at the moment? It’s afterwards, once we’ve been trained, that it yields the peaceful fruit of righteousness. Strengthen the weak hands and feeble knees. Take captive that thought; rein in the runaway tongue. Take the dare, ye faint of heart. Be challenged, thou grumbler. Beat my 44 minute mark.

Gird up undaunted; in Christ, we don’t go it alone. He holds our hand. We struggle with all his energy that powerfully works within. How we need to rely on he who is in us! On the immeasurable greatness of his power toward us who believe.

There is One to whom we dare not speak our native tongue. To Him, we say, I do not deserve to have you come under my roof, only say the word, and We are unworthy servants and have only done our duty. And always, Thank you, Lord. 

How am I doing since Friday’s fall?  So glad you asked.

Better than I deserve. 

Much better.

He does not treat us as our sins deserve or repay us according to our iniquities. For as high as the heavens are above the earth, so great is his love for those who fear him. 

Psalm 103:10-11