Thursday, September 8, 2011

Decide to PICCL or you might turn into a Schnizel

I met a lady who lives in a four by six foot tin house, a six year old boy covered in sores already dying from AIDS, kids who just wanted to hold my hand as I walked through the slums of Kampala, a place hardly even imaginable.  The living conditions can't compare with anything I have ever experienced. Creeks of waste running between the tin homes, people cooking grasshoppers for dinner, one year olds wandering naked.

How could this be true? So many thousands of people living in extreme poverty. During my time in Uganda this past May I visited several villages and met so many people who live day by day trusting God to provide food and all that they need. Each day many go hungry, many walk the dusty roads shoeless, many miss out on attending school, many lose loved ones because of lack of medical care. But many will also manage to live life without complaining.

I observed plenty of reasons for people to complain but heard so little complaining. I don't know how to explain it anymore than I know how to explain the poverty I witnessed. People who go without the very necessities of life smiling and praising God for another day to be alive. People lifting their hands in worship and praise for their salvation. People generously extending hospitality. Each night I returned to my hotel room impacted by what I saw but also by what I heard from the lips of people who go without.  Words of joy and hope and faith flowed from their tongues. And God began to reveal what a complainer I had become.

I quickly realized just saying “don’t complain” wasn’t going to work. I tried that method and failed, and that is when it occurred to me that living life without complaining would have to start somewhere deeper, because complaining is simply an overflow of my heart. So I began asking God to help me with complaining.

And just as God opened my eyes to see my need to change he also showed me a way to overcome my complaining spirit. He reminded me that each day I needed to PICCL. You might have to humor me but I'm going to start with L and go backwards while explaining my acronym from what God taught me, but really its worth it.

L:  Embrace God’s love

Sometimes I struggle because I have this idea in my head of what God’s love is and because he doesn’t do this or that than I choose to forget that he loves me.  Or maybe I just look over God’s love and want a person to love me a certain way and because they don't I choose to believe God doesn’t love me either.   

We all have a little chamber somewhere within us that is labeled God’s love and if it is empty than we are empty.

1 John 4:7-9 says, "Dear friends, let us love one another, for love comes from God.  Everyone who loves has been born of God and knows God.  Whoever does not love does not know God, because God is love.  This is how God showed his love among us: He sent his one and only Son into the world that we might live through him."

This love, Gods love, doesn't change based on what we get or do not get in life. It doesn't change when others don't treat us as they should.  God's love is deep and constant. It is love that frees us from being a slave to sin, it is our ticket from the kingdom of darkness to the kingdom of light.  It is love that washes us of all our sins, taking away our guilt and shame.  It does so much more than we will ever know. 

Yet so often I fail to embrace God's love because of my circumstances or feelings. I let my sorrows or fears keep me from my greatest need God's love.

So in order to overcome complaining I need to daily embrace God's love. 

  C= comfort

Life is filled with hardships of all sorts.
               Physical needs
                Relationships that break hearts
                Hurt feelings that break down our confidence
                Grief and loss

We are people that hurt often....Where do I go for comfort?

Do I go shopping? Do I obsess about what I look like in order to avoid thinking about the pain?  Do I inflict pain on myself, cutting, eating disorders, etc. in order to try and make the pain go away? Do I go to another person and want them to fix all my problems? Do I go on Facebook to fill my time and try and ignore my problems or how about exercise?  Yes I've done all these things and more to find comfort.         
Far too often I know that I turn to things that don’t comfort me.  They might for a little while but they can’t heal my pain. I will continue to hurt as long as I keep going to something other than God for comfort. And my lack of comfort leads to complaining

Psalm 16:4 says, "The sorrows of those will increase who run after other gods" but         
2 Corinthians 1:3-4 says, "God is the God of all comfort who comforts us in all our troubles."

So I get to chose... let me sorrows increase by going to something other than God or go to him with my hurts and believe that he can heal them and that he can comfort me. 
Childlike faith that God is healer and able to comfort me is another part of overcoming complaining.

C= Company

We were made to be in a relationship with God.  Not just an occasional visit,like a distant relative but an every moment kind of companion. Every day I am invited to spend time with the most loving, most understanding, most knowledgeable, most powerful, most famous, most compassionate, most awesome being and yet I pass up many opportunities with Him throughout my days.

Why?  I don’t think I always believe He is all the things I just said about Him. I know they are true but I don't always chose to believe. I need to really begin believing who God is and as I do I will long to be with him more. His company will transform me and fill me with joy.  Psalm 16:11 says, "You have made known to me the path of life, you will fill me with joy in your presence." Joy will conquer a complaining spirit and joy will come as I let God be my ever present company.

Choosing to say, "Better is one day in your courts than a thousand elsewhere" Psalm 84:10 will help me to overcoming complaining

I= Instructions

A lot of times I just want to skip over instructions. I often act like a know it all. Ouch it hurts to think that about myself, but I know that it is true.

I also don’t like when people tell me what to do and this sometimes goes for God. I have all kinds of reasons as to why I want to ignore his instructions.
 I think I have life all figured out, I think that my way is better, I think that they aren't relevant to my  circumstance, I think people will think I'm weird, I think i will miss out.

I come up with lots of reasons to ignore God’s instructions but as a result I end up in lots of trouble which often leads to complaining.  I have ended up all sorts of messes by not following God's ways yet I still complain when no ones to blame but myself.

If I would embrace God’s instructions my life could be radically different. Just look at a few of his instructions...   Think of others needs before my own, love others as I love myself, go to those I have hurt and ask for forgiveness even if it is the hardest most humbling thing  I have to do, live a pure life.   

Following God's instructions will allow me to overcoming complaining.

P= Provisions

God had given the Israelites everything they need when they left Egypt and began their journey to the Promise Land.  Food, water, clothing, each other and his guidance. Yet they grumbled. They began craving more than what he gave. God called them greedy. 

My story is often very similar to the Israelites. I am given all I need yet I am greedy and complain saying I don’t have this, I don’t have that. I have everything and so much more.  

My problem is I'm not always  thankful for what I have.

How often in a day do I say I’m thankful for?
How often in a day do you say  I want…  I need… I don’t ever get or have.

I need to start by being thankful if I want to overcome complaining

Remember to PICCL or you might become a Schnizel

Complaining is so unattractive and really upsets God. I actually taught this message at youth group a while back and I used this cartoon character to show what we look like when we complain.  I thought it was just some random image I found of an unattractive, angry creature but as soon as I flashed it on the screen the teens starting shouting, "Schnizel".  Apparently he is a character from Cartoon Chowder who doesn't talk but just complains by making grunting noises or something like that.  So the line for the night became, "Don't be a Schnizel, remember to PICCL"

 So I've been trying each day to PICCL:
                  Embrace God's Love
                  Let God be my Comfort
                  Enjoy God's constant Company
                  Obeying God's Instructions
                  Thank God for his Provisions


I definitely have room to improve but thankful that God has been working with me and renewing my spirit of joy, hope, love and peace.

Hope you take time to PICCL today!

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