Tuesday, November 2

The Key to the Kingdom.

Posted by Andrea

Read Matthew 5:1-12

At a secret society meeting the other evening (sounds more glamorous than Weight Watchers), the speaker was discussing something called self-talk. This is one of the dumbest terms self-help “psychiatry” has come up with to date. I’m sorry, it just is. The concept is to talk to yourself, like a crazy person, in an attempt to convince yourself to change a certain habit or in an effort to feel better about yourself.

I talk to myself all the time. I mutter things in the grocery store like, “Don’t forget milk.” Thank goodness I have children along usually and can pretend I’m talking to them. The difference here is I am reminding myself of a fact--I will forget milk if I don’t hear someone, even myself, tell me to get it. I am not trying to trick my subconscious into believing something that may or may not be true.

We can convince ourselves of anything given clever enough self-talk. I can say to myself, “Do not eat your children’s Halloween candy. It is not good for you in any way, shape, or form. Candy is stuffed full of the emptiest calories imaginable. You will not have any interest in having only one piece. Hiding the wrapper does not mean you didn’t eat it.”

Then I will say to myself, “But my children want to share. I don’t want to hurt their fragile feelings by refusing such a magnanimous gesture from my sweet Spiderman. Of course I can have only one piece. I do have some self control. Maybe I’ll go for a walk later to burn the extra calories.”

The idea of self-talk runs completely contrary to what the Bible tells us. I am very slowly working through Kay Arthur’s Lord, Only you can Change Me. The topic is the Beatitudes and one of them is “Blessed be the poor in spirit.” She describes poor in spirit as the acknowledgement that we are useless. Outside of God’s grace because of the fall there is no human way to live a fulfilled and successful life. “Blessed be the poor in spirit because theirs is the kingdom of heaven.”

The act of recognizing we cannot do this life on our own is the key to opening the doors of Heaven’s power. A little different than self-talk, right?

I don’t have a rough life, but some days it feels like it. The other day was one of those days. The kids were crazy and driving me there quickly. I was already fit to blow as my boys and I sat around the dinner table. My husband’s very presence has a calming effect on me in these situations, but he was not there, so there was no claming. The little one fidgeted about in his chair. I asked if he needed to go potty. No, he told me, still fidgeting. Two seconds later, he hopped down from his chair, spread his legs and peed on the floor. Then, to make matters worse, he ran off laughing.

The term boiling mad was coined for those moments. On my knees, spraying Resolve on the situation, I self-talked. He’s still learning. It didn’t work because self-talk doesn‘t clean carpet. I do, and I couldn‘t take it anymore. So I prayed. A simple, abrupt prayer. I can’t do this. You do it.

The prayer was not very polite, but the surrender was what God was after, I think. I let God take over.

By the time the puddle was cleaned up, I was unexplainably calm. I retrieved my son, cleaned him up and explained, clear and firm, the error of his ways. We returned to the dinner table, and I detailed to my children what to expect from the rest of the evening. Before I knew what was happening, I was enjoying an evening with my children whose behavior changed as radically as mine did.

Why would we choose to live any other way than with a key to the kingdom of heaven?

Jesus asked Peter, “Who do you say I am.” How strange Peter must have felt confessing, “You are the Christ.” Following and believing Jesus, who was quickly making enemies of the church, may have seemed like insanity. He could have self-talked himself out of it, but instead, at the possible cost of his own reputation and life, he said, “You are the Christ.” How pleased Jesus must have been! He replied, “I will give you the keys to the kingdom of heaven; whatever you bind on earth will be bound in heaven, whatever you loose on earth will be loosed in heaven” (Matthew 16:13-20).

A big promise for a thing so small as laying your life down. I sometimes think that promises like this don’t apply to my situation. I don’t have a rough life so these promises must be for people with purposes bigger than a plain old mom. They must be for pastors, missionaries, martyrs, world changers.

Not true. The promise applies across the board.  We’re all the same in God’s eyes. As Paul says, “That is why, for Christ's sake, I delight in weaknesses, in insults, in hardships, in persecutions, in difficulties [in poverty of spirit]. For when I am weak, then I am strong” (I Corinthians 12:10).

We can’t do any of this on our own. Some of us are better at pretending than others, but in truth, none of us is equipped for this job of mothering or anything else. And God likes it better that way. We better reveal his glory through our acceptance of defeat.

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