My sister and I used to have the biggest fights. I was like a ticking time bomb of violence and bottled up anger. I remember once being in a particularly heated argument where insults were being hurled left and right, and finally she gave the deathblow to my pride. I instantly knew she was right but I was equally furious. By the end of the whole ordeal, I had given her some pretty bad scratches and was soon after quite ashamed of my quick, reactive behavior. Time has gone by and we don’t sort through disagreements in that way any more, but I still have a tendency to react out of unbridled passion.
Have you ever found yourself feeling like a pendulum? A pendulum moves based on reaction to an outside force, and even when it is resting it is anticipating the next jolt to send it on a new chain path of reaction. Oftentimes, we can act in a similar way, acting and reacting based on our own emotions, the mistakes of others, or unexpected life circumstances. Before you know it, you’re basing everything you think, say, and do as a reaction to something else. This, dear reader, is behaving like a pendulum. “Pendulum-ing” comes in different forms. It may be a small series of events (like lashing out or gossipping) that eventually creates bad habits, or it may be one big swing from a traumatic event (such as abandoning your Christian walk after a relative dies or clamming up and being bitter after a tough breakup) which creates a shift in worldview.
A lot of times, people are like pendulums. God is not.
For I am the Lord; I do not change… | Malachi 3:6a
The Lord is my rock and my fortress and my deliverer; my God, my strength, in whom I will trust; my shield and the horn of my salvation, my stronghold. | Psalm 18:1
I’ve been thinking a lot about how to end these crazy pendulum patterns that easily creep into my life, and I keep coming back to one conclusion: the Lord Jesus Christ is my stronghold, my fortress, my rock! Elisabeth Elliot described in her book “The Mark of a Man” needing a True North in this sea of uncertainties, and that True North is who Christ is, not our own fickleness.
We have to anchor ourselves in the truth of who our God is, His unchanging character and promises. Truly, as disciples of Jesus, we are called to die to ourselves and that to live is Christ. When our identify is that hidden in Christ, we can’t pendulum out of control, even though we feel deep emotions and experience hard circumstances. Christ is better. When our eyes are taken up with the Savior rather than the circumstance, we stop behaving like pendulums and begin to long for Him, His glory, and His will to be done. It’s not about reacting, it’s about resting. As the hymn writer Jean Sophia Pigott wrote–
Ever lift Thy face upon me
As I work and wait for Thee;
Resting ’neath Thy smile, Lord Jesus,
Earth’s dark shadows flee.
Brightness of my Father’s glory,
Sunshine of my Father’s face,
Keep me ever trusting, resting,
Fill me with Thy grace.
from “Jesus, I am Resting”, 1876
I pray that you’ll join me in wholehearted pursuit of Jesus, only Jesus, and resting in the joy of who He is!