I want to tell you a story today about how God can use you in any condition. As with many of these stories, it starts at my machine at work- but also with a bit of history.
Those of you that don't know me well might not know that I have a bit of a temper. It is something I have been making good progress against, but it has left me with a bit of a reputation- one that I don't like. You become known more for the outbursts than for the control.
And for those that don't know my routine, my morning at work begins with me listening to David Jeremiah, Alistair Begg, and Chuck Swindoll, followed by going down my prayer list, which I keep in a "Little fat book" that Laurie got me. The whole process can take me to or past our first break, depending on how smooth the work is going.
So, the day in question was anything but going smoothly, work-wise. But God teaches in these moments too, and today's lesson was going to be, "He hears everything you say to Him."
At one point after one of an ever-growing pile of things I needed to do "hot" was added, I turned back to the prayer list, praying, "Next up..." I was immediately struck by my facetiousness, and noted that, while God has reached me humorously before, I wanted to be respectful in this venue.
Boy, was I gonna regret that...
Not long after, I was praying on the subject of things God wanted me to do- and how I wanted a "clear sign" of what it might be because "I didn't want to look like a dumba$$..."
Instantly, I knew how stupid that was. In my heart I knew what I MEANT was, I don't want to make God look stupid by doing something I wasn't supposed to. At least, I HOPED that was what I meant.
Boy, was I gonna regret THAT.
We reach the finale around 10:30. As I was taking a fabric color off my table and preparing to switch racks for yet another "hot" item I was fighting my way towards, ANOTHER hot item- of course in the color I was taking down- came out. Growling the whole way, I brought the fabric back up, assumed incorrectly that I hadn't moved it enough to knock it out of line, and soon had trashed the new hot item about halfway through. That was the last straw- I cursed the machine, cursed the fabric, slammed my hand down on my desk, and shouted (which is normally okay since the machine is so loud and my partner uses another of the same machine), "Why does it ALWAYS have to be a test till I snap???"
My partner looks over from her machine. "Are you okay?" I nodded and grumbled something.
Trying to calm down (and cut the hot item correctly), I told God, "I can't finish this prayer list until I understand why it is always a test until I snap..." I was totally frustrated with myself at this point.
Then God began, with Elijah, listing all the characters He had tested to the point of snapping. And He told me, "You don't grow unless you go out as far as you can. And every day, go a little farther."
Which calmed me down- and gave me opportunity. I went over to my partner, and explained all this in abbreviated form so we weren't stopped working too long. I told her God reminded me about what he did to Elijah, and she asked what it was He did. So I gave her the 15-second version- the big victory, the defeat, the pity party, and how God refreshed him and told him to get back to work. So I had turned something bad- EXCUSE me, God had- into a seed planting opportunity.
And then, as I went back to my machine, another thought hit me, and I went back to my partner.
"A few minutes back," I told her, "I had been praying about doing God's will, and I accidentally put it that I didn't want to do the wrong thing and look like a dumba$$. But God showed me He can use even that- because I looked like a dumba$$, and it gave me a chance to tell you about Him!"
I don't know if the seed took. Her response was basically she wasn't one to judge me as the Haney (her piece of crap version of my machine) prompted her to far more cursing than I do anymore. But the thing was God gave the opportunity in the midst of my dumba$$ery- and he takes care of seed growth.
And as I went back at last to work, and the prayer list, I realized that I should never get upset at myself for using humor with God- He's a lot funnier than I am.