In the city where I live, as in many cities in the U.S., recycling is a routine way of handling the millions of tons of trash produced daily. But did you know we have a God who loves recycling?
“God is in the recycling business; He recycles our pain,” said the leader of our Celebrate Recovery recently.
That statement is not new or original with this leader. It has been used in lessons for Celebrate Recovery and other recovery programs for years.
As I heard the statement this time, I saw parallels between the process I go through in order for the city to recycle my garbage and how God recycles pain.
Try as you might, you cannot avoid conflict in relationships. Relational conflict is a natural part of human existence. Therefore, you need to figure out how best to deal with it rather than avoid it.
When conflict exists in a relationship and all you do is seek to avoid it, you only allow it to worsen. The longer conflict is avoided or ignored, the more it festers or escalates.
When working as a manager at a call center, I recall having a conflict with a colleague. Rather than dealing with it immediately, I avoided it because I lacked the tools to manage it. The end result was that I distanced myself from my colleague and our relationship became rather awkward. Since then I’ve learned to deal with conflicts as soon as possible because I value relationships.
Let me suggest three biblical steps that will help you manage your conflicts rather than avoid them.
Sleep is more important than food. Those of you who know me must be wondering if I have lost my mind. But I came to realize you could go a week without food and the most you would lose is weight. Try going 24 hours without sleep and you are unable to function effectively. The research is overwhelming that most of us need seven to eight hours of sleep nightly to feel rested, have more naturally sustained energy and focus better. An incredibly small number among us can survive on seven hours or less sleep.
You delude yourself if you think you can stay awake until all hours of the night, consistently get less than seven or eight hours of sleep, and be fully rested and functional.
Here is the challenge most of us who are sleep deprived have to face: We have no idea how dysfunctional we are until we start getting sufficient sleep and see the difference in our productivity, alertness, focus and energy.
In Mark 7:21-22, Jesus warns us of what comes from the heart; things such as evil thoughts, sexual immorality, theft, murder, adultery, greed, malice, deceit, lewdness, envy, slander, arrogance, and folly. You don’t have to work at these things; they come naturally to the human heart.
Take a child for instance; you don’t have to teach a child to be selfish, say ‘no’ or throw a tantrum. You do not have to teach the child to hit, scream or get in a fight with another child. Rather, you find parents trying to teach their children about being nice, caring, sharing and controlling their temper.
The reason for this natural bent toward the things Jesus mentioned in Mark 7:21-22 is because the human heart without God is evil and wicked. In Jeremiah 17:9-10, we are told, “The heart is