Human Nature Meets a Bad Monday

human hands on notebook computer in coffee shop

Sometimes I write best in coffee shops

Stopped at my favorite coffee shop for a bit of think and write time. Good coffee. Tasty pastries. Great service. No mystery why today, like most days, clutches of lovers, friends, colleagues and contacts cluster most tables, fill most chairs. The mood’s up. Most smile. Chatter burbles like a spring brook. Its bubbles froth into pleasant background easy to enjoy, or ignore, as I choose.

portrait of Pastor Tim Remmington who ministers to human needs

Pastor Tim Remmington, one of the most selfless men I’ve ever met.

But today cheery grates, incongruous in light of what happened. How can they laugh? I want to rage & revenge, cry & hide, or both. The bad news? Just learned someone shot my good friend, Pastor Tim, yesterday afternoon. The good news? He’ll live—a miracle the medical folks say. The bullet stopped at his skull, providing fuel for life-long teasing about his hard head.

So yeah, part of the old me wants to catch the SOB and get even—plus a little. Sorry, but lots of human nature left inside me. Embarrassing when it leaks out. Today I don’t care. I’m only a little surprised by the sudden empathy I feel for Amazon jungle folks I used to fly for. Their revenge cycle almost makes sense—at least on a visceral level.

Another part of the old me wants to make everything safe for everyone at all times. Force everyone to act nice. Take away the guns, knives, forks, wrenches, broom handles and bicycles—anything and everything that’s ever hurt someone. Take away hate. Take away bad thoughts. Take away selfish thoughts. Maybe take away all thoughts. Then, when that’s all done, go hide anyway. After all, as the prophet Jeremiah wrote, The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately sick; who can understand it?

Fortunately, neither rage nor fear prevail. I’m calmer now. And more courageous now. Not because I’m wiser or braver, but because God replaced my old nature with new. Way beyond me to do, just his free gift. And that’s the thing about the Spirit life, you either take it or leave it. I choose to take it. But that brings a question. What do I do now? What do I say now?

Lash out, pontificate that we all must …fill in the blank with the crusade of choice? When confronted by the mess we all live in, some take that option. But to me, it feels a lot like revenge.

Or should I try to endure this crappy world, hunker down and wait for the better one to come? Seemingly unstoppable chaos persuades some to choose that option. But to me, it feels a lot like hiding? Neither fixes anything. Neither helps anyone. Neither rises up to offer hope.

On the other hand, God offers compassion and skill to anyone willing to carry one of his fiery coals. Tim chose to pick one up. In return God gives Tim unquenchable passion to administer his divine grace, and keen ability to meet desperate needs. Tim is a God agent, diligent to do exactly what he’s asked—no more, no less. So, right now, I choose to imitate Tim, doing the best I can, where I am, with what I’ve got. Seems like an excellent place to stand.

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2 thoughts on “Human Nature Meets a Bad Monday”

  1. I read about this crime this morning – had no idea he’s a friend of yours. But it was jarring nonetheless. It could have had an even sadder ending, and we rejoice at God’s protection for Pastor Tim. Your anger is understandable and very human, Jim. We live in such a broken and cursed world. In it…yet blessedly released from it’s power over us. Because of that, I know your anger will soon fade. One more reason to praise and give thanks.

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