The Apostle Paul admonishes us to keep in step with the Spirit. The first Bible I ever received that was uniquely mine was given to me in 1965, a leather covered King James version Bible. While a student at Olivet Nazarene University I misplaced the Bible. I believe I left it behind after a service at College Church. A few times I looked in the lost and found box but never found the Bible. The print would be too small for me to read today and the version, not my preferred version. Yet I would love to recover it and look through the notes I had written throughout the blank pages of the Bible. One afternoon as a teenager I was listening to a radio preacher. I cannot recall who it was or how I came to listen to this program. He gave three things that we need to do when we’ve been hurt or disappointed. I was so impressed with his outline that I wrote it on the inside page of my Bible. All that was available to me during that radio program was on # 2 pencil. The inside cover of my Bible was where I decided to write it down. If you wanted to read it you had to hold the inside cover of the Bible at the correct angle in order to see the pencil marks I made. Here are the things he said:
. Keep silent
. Keep sweet
. Keep stepping
That is how we all developed outlines in the old days. We were trained to use alliteration and use it liberally. I am not advocating for the reestablishment of alliteration. I will point out that 45 years later I have never forgotten those three points. The power of the three points was not that they all began with the letter S, it was the directives that has stuck with me.
Keep silent. Whenever I am hurt or disappointed my mouth seems to go into overdrive. I am one of those that begins to speak without actually thinking through what I am saying. I used to think I was the only person who did this, but then I was introduced to Facebook and found out that our numbers are legion, those who talk without thinking. There is built within all of us a need to defend ourselves, our families, our church, and just about any other given subject that we land on any particular day. I am in no way intimating that we should remain silent on every issue, there are issues which call for a prophetic voice to speak into the situation. Realistically don’t a good percentage of us talk more than we listen? When we’ve been hurt, is not our default position to tell everyone we know that somebody done us wrong! We have been treated badly and we are going to shout it from the mountaintop. I have discovered that it is much easier for me to hear God’s voice, when mine is silent. How often have I needed to get to a quiet place, to settle myself and in the middle of my hurt hear the voice of God? I believe it’s still a good rule, it’s not that silence is golden but rather that I can hear the still small voice much more easily when I a m quiet.
Keep sweet. I think we all know what that means. Bitterness is a silent killer! When I have been mistreated, misunderstood or misrepresented, sweetness is the last thing on my mind. I was told years ago, one sure way to tell if one is filled with the Holy Spirit, is not what they say in a testimony meeting, it is rather how do they handle disappointment? Sweetness is not used in this case to mean surrender and giving up. This is the sweetness that comes from knowing God is in control and those around me need to witness how a Christian reacts to pain, suffering and disappointment. If I react in anger and meanness I give little if any room for the Holy Spirit to work. I must confess I am not an expert on this subject, reflecting back over my life I have been given to fits of meanness and have not always given everything over to God. I possess a hard charging and opinionated personality, I am confessing it and I am aware that is a problem for me. But awareness is no excuse, as I mature and look back over my life, if I could go back and do things over I would’ve tried to be a little more kind and sweeter to the people in my life. Sometimes I’ve been right, many times I’ve been wrong and in both cases I should have been sweeter. How about you? is the Lord making you sweeter as you walk with Him?
Keep stepping. The preacher reminded us that whatever happens to us we must never give up! We must keep moving ahead with the Lord. I should never stop and wallow in my sorrow, disappointment and bitterness. Not only have some people stopped there, some are marinating in this swamp. Nothing that is happening to you right now is worth losing out spiritually. Continue to hold the Lord’s hand and keep in step with the Spirit.
. Keep silent
. Keep sweet
. Keep stepping