Don Goulding - Blog

Peace or Resistance

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Do not be anxious about anything. Instead, in every situation, through prayer and petition with thanksgiving, tell your requests to God. And the peace of God that surpasses all understanding will guard your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus. (Philippians 4:6, 7)

Josef’s chocolate colored, Fijian cheeks bulge with kissable baby fat. The universe revolves around the dimples of his smile. But right now, the bridge of his wide nose is furrowed as he lets out a low pitched cry, like he’s trying to hold it in, but can’t. At two years old, Josef doesn’t have words for why he’s hurting. He doesn’t even know the reason himself. If he knew what it was, he couldn’t fix the problem anyway. He is totally dependent on his mother, Losana.

Losana hears her son’s wail, and recognizes the problem. She knows her precious boy better than he knows himself. He recently ate, but now he’s tired, and nothing in his world is right when fatigue hits his little body. Losana knows what Josef needs, long before he does.

God knows my needs better than Losana knows Josef’s. I complain and cry, but only he knows what my eternal soul must have, even when I can’t articulate it myself. He knows my history, my circumstances, and my heart. Even if I fully understood my problems, I can’t fix them. I am totally dependent on him.

God knows better than I do what should be done for me. But will I let him, or will I stiffen and wail? Which Josef am I? The dimpled, smiling one, or the contorted, bawling one? Peace or resistance—I can only choose one.

Prayer: Father, I am small and you are great.

Obsession

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Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is worthy of respect, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if something is excellent or praiseworthy, think about these things. (Philippians 4:8)

A seedy thought runs through my mind. A small fear, a bite of hate, a worldly itch. My conscience rebukes my imagination, and the thought scurries toward the door. Before the exit, it ducks into the shadow and sneaks around to the front of my ideas. Round and round the thought courses my synapses, cutting a path deeper with each lap. Soon, an obsession is born.

Some obsessions wear white coats. Family, sports, and music are gifts from God. But when they displace worship of Jesus, they are black obsessions in white coats. Most anything or anybody can become an obsession. Whatever we spend the most time thinking about is our obsession. We’re an obsessive people. We should wear name badges that say, hello, my name is … my obsession is … 

Obsessiveness can also be our best trait.

Jesus Christ, the crucified King, who defines love, is the one pure target of my obsession. I want to let thoughts of him swirl around my mind. I want his sacrifice and his majesty to consume me. He accepts me as I am, stays at my side, and whispers words of correction with love—this is the mental cud I’m meant to chew. 

There is only one who can fulfill me. He is the one who is true, worthy of respect, just, pure, lovely, commendable, excellent, and praiseworthy. Jesus is the one I’m to think about—my true obsession.

Prayer: Jesus, may I fixate on you alone.

Childlike

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I tell you the truth, unless you turn around and become like little children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven! Whoever then humbles himself like this little child is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven. (Matthew 18:3, 4)

In light of Christ’s strong words, I went to my two-year-old grandson for advice on being childlike. I caught up with Jaden as he finished breakfast in his highchair. 

When I asked Jaden about his future plans, he banged a spoon on his bowl to hear the ceramic ringing sound. Okay, so this child was absorbed in the present and not worried about the future. 

Oh, that I might be so trusting of my Father’s watchcare that I’d relax into the present. Lesson one, a child trusts.

I asked Jaden what his joys were. The cherub cheeks puckered as he produced the word, “egem.” His mother interpreted this as “eggs.” He loves eggs. Information from other sources revealed he also enjoys playing with trucks, balls, and loves his bath. Whatever simple joys are available are what he delights in. 

This insight cuts a sharp contrast to the schemes I hatch for increasing pleasures. Lesson two, a child is grateful.

I asked Jaden to list his accomplishments. The only reply was, “Uh oh.” I believe the response was more reflective of his immediate challenge with eggs on his spoon, than it was of chagrin for not having founded a charity, led a cause, or gained international acclaim. To cover his modesty, his mother rattled off a list—walking, sleeping all night, eating solid foods, a 250 word vocabulary.

When I compared Jaden’s list to mine, the accomplishment where he had an edge was in humbly receiving the love that surrounded him. According to Jesus, this is the accomplishment that matters. Lesson three, a child loves.

Prayer: Father, grant me the trusting, grateful, loving heart of a child.