Friends, after going back and forth on this matter, I (eventually) came to the conclusion that sharing this story is important, embarrassing, but important. In my last post titled Back in July, I shared a powerful and slightly stinging moment I had with the Holy Spirit during Jake’s sermon on the Prodigal Son, or as I like to refer to him (and myself), the Redeemed Heir. I won’t rehash the entire story, but, in that moment, God opened my eyes to three ways I tend to reject His grace. Like I said, it stung a bit, but in that hydrogen-peroxide kind of way, not the dousing-my-wound-with-salt-lemon-and-alcohol (Come on now! Rubbing alcohol, not tequila!) kind of way.
What I did not share with everyone was how much work God had to do in me to get me to the point where I could even respond to the Holy Spirit during that service. As awesome as Jake’s sermon was, God actually began using Jake the night before as I was cleaning up in the nursery after service. First, let me clarify unequivocally, this entire experience was in my head and my heart. Jake did nothing whatsoever to create my issue.
So, with that said, I invite you into my struggle with offense. Like I said, Jake walked into the nursery after Saturday service to discuss my potential involvement with this very blog, and I’m not sure what he said, but somehow I felt as though his tone was less than friendly – in retrospect, he was probably just in a hurry after having just given his sermon (something I did not know). In any case, instead of extending grace for my perceived offense, I walked away from that conversation feeling offended for no reason. I then took that seed of offense home with me and let it sit overnight. To my chagrin, Jake was leading worship the next morning – remember, I was not in service on Saturday night. I stood there annoyed (again, for no reason), barely able to worship, when I felt the Holy Spirit correct me. All during worship, along with the Holy Spirit, we worked on forgiving whatever offense I had taken and repenting for allowing that offense to take root. Think about it, in just one night, that offense prevented me from entering the presence of Jesus to worship!
By the end of worship my heart was right with Jesus and it was also right toward Jake. Then, as you might have guessed, after snack time (I love ACC snack time BTW!), Pastor introduced Jake as the speaker for the weekend. I had to laugh! Of course Jake was preaching! It still makes me laugh. However, as funny as that moment was, consider what might have happened had the Holy Spirit not been so insistent that I correct my heart. Can you imagine? Certainly, I would not have been open to hearing what God had put on Jake’s heart to share or what God spoke to me. My blog post aside, the eternal things that shifted in me as a result of that morning would not have happened. How sad that would have been! Though, I would hope it would have happened at some point, I would have experienced unnecessary delays, which I am totally not a fan of.
This whole experience made me think of Matthew 13:53-58, where Jesus goes to his hometown and they – his family, friends, and neighbors – flatly reject Him. In fact, in verse 57, it says “And they took offense at Him” (NIV). Sadly, the bible goes on to say that Jesus was unable to do many miracles there because of their unbelief. And as a result of their offense? Their ultimate rejection of Jesus’ presence. Sound familiar? Recall that my own offense kept me from the presence of Jesus as well during worship.
Though, I’m sure there are many great books on offense, I have only read one, Bait of Satan by John Bevere. In it, he notes “Many are unable to function properly in their calling because of the wounds and hurts that offenses have caused in their lives. They are handicapped and hindered from fulfilling their full potential. Most often it is a fellow believer who has hurt them.” How true! That offense could have potentially created a domino effect for me, preventing me from operating in my calling. When I think about all God was able to do in me and, hopefully, through me during that one service, I wonder how many times I have missed the mark in my offense, deaf to the Holy Spirit and unable to enter the presence of Jesus. Mostly, though, I am thankful for a faithful God, Who, no matter how ridiculous or petty I become, is always there to gently guide me back. So, I encourage you (and myself), the next time a seed of offense wants to take root, let the Holy Spirit help you yank that sucker out! It only wants to keep you from the fullness of what God has for you and the people you love!