Down in the Dumps

The other day, I felt pretty down in the dumps. I don’t know why, but I just woke up on the wrong side of the bed. Has this ever happened to you? You can’t explain it, but you’re just grumpy. I don’t mean those of you who need a morning coffee before you can speak, much less speak coherently and kindly. I mean just being grumpy — those times when nothing seems right.

When dogs or babies or horses are upset, I find myself holding them and murmuring over and over, “You’re OK, you’re OK.”  It’s harder to do with horses; they bite. Anyway, the day I found myself feeling grumpy, I laughed at myself as I walked to the train murmuring, “You’re OK, you’re OK.” Like anyone, I was trying to figure out why I was grouchy. And while trying to figure it out, I was repeatedly distracted by being grumpy.

One of the tactics I took was to disagree with myself. “What do you have to be unhappy about? Great job, great wife, great family, great church and you have a great relationship with your Father God. Why so grouchy?”

1 John 1:9 reads:
But if we confess our sins to him, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all wickedness.

This passage reveals that if we submit to God and admit our standing relative to His, He will forgive us and cleanse us from all wickedness. It’s God holding onto us and repeating, “You’re OK, you’re OK.”

And so as I walked up the stairs from the subway, I felt my spirits rise in appreciation for what is right. The connection with God is the gift that is most important to me. But then I wondered, what is the key to this relationship? What is my part in this amazing gift? I’m no better, nor more deserving, of the amazing love that God provides than anyone else.

Ephesians 2:8-9 says:
God saved you by his grace when you believed. And you can’t take credit for this; it is a gift from God. Salvation is not a reward for the good things we have done.

I considered this.

I don’t deserve it.

But as I was traveling on the train, this was the tone of my prayers:

Father, you want me to be a better husband. I can’t do it on my own. I am too selfish. Will you please help me be a better husband? I can’t do it without you. Father, you want me to live my life in a way that is above reproach. I’m too worried that others won’t like me. Help me to take a stand to love others more than I love myself. Father, you want me to communicate your love to my co-workers. I can’t do it on my own. I’m afraid to risk my job or my standing. Will you please help me? Will you open up the conversation and help me to see where you are at work and how I can join you in it?

In these prayers, I am saying yes to God.

This is a posture I can take in all my days, in all of my moments. It’s not just an instant in time, but it is an attitude I can carry through all of life’s circumstances. I’m not only confessing that I’m sinful, I’m confessing that I need Him in every aspect of my life. I’m not just confessing my sins, I’m confessing my dependence. I’m saying, “God, you’re speaking to me about something. I can’t respond as I know you want. Help me to respond in the way you’re describing. I can’t do it without you.”

By taking this posture, we’re saying yes to the voice of God in our lives and furthering the most important relationship we have — the one we have with our Father.

Justin is an Elder at Hoboken Grace.

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