Last Friday I was reviewing part of my Bible Study lesson. It suggested that we make a list of all the people we come into contact with each day, and pray that our interactions with them would be as befits someone who says they live to serve the Lord. That I morning I prayed specifically about my going to the gym later, as that is the arena where I am surrounded by the largest number of people who I don't know their 'religious' views. I prayed that I would model Christ in a way that pleases Him.
Well, I blew it. There was a guy who was being a real equipment hog -- setting up the machine, pushing a few reps, and then walking away for 10-15 minutes. I needed the bench he was using, and knew I could wheel it to where I needed it and get it back in time. As I was wheeling it away, he came running back and confronted me. Instead of doing what I had PRAYED SPECIFICALLY TO DO, I snapped at him and was not very nice. No cusswords, just not very nice and surrendered the bench in a less than conciliatory attitude.
I went over to another area and started working on the next set of muscles. As I started some reps I heard the Lord's voice in my head saying, "Go apologize." I mentally replied, "he was the jerk. I am not going to apologize." Again I heard, "Go apologize." I replied, "I'm not ready." Again, "Go apologize." So I sighed and mentally said, "okay, after I finish this set." "No. Go do it right now." I spent the next three minutes continuing the set and mentally rationalizing that it didn't make sense to stop in the middle of a set to go do it, but that I would when I was finished.
I finished the set and went to find him. He was gone. He had left the gym. And I felt awful -- not awful for his sake, but that I had not been immediately obedient. That apology was hanging over me all weekend. I planned on Monday to go apologize but my daughter was sick so we spent the morning at the doctor. So the apology hung over me another two days. I knew that on Wednesday he wouldn't be there because I work out in the afternoon after CBS, and I'd always seen him in the morning. If I'd only done it when God told me to, I'd be at peace!
But, on Wednesday afternoon, God was gracious. As I was working out and in the middle of a set, the guy walked in and started working across the room. I immediately stopped what I was doing (MID-SET!) and went over and apologized for my anger. His reaction: "Sure, no problem." That was it. Done. And I was immediately at peace.
I felt better because I had finally done what God had told me to do. Did it change the guy's behavior? No. Did he in any way acknowledge he was part of it? No. But did I learn a lesson about immediate obedience? Absolutely yes!
One of the interesting things in this learning process was that the day of the confrontation, another guy saw it. He's one of my 'gym buds' that I usually chat with somewhere during the workout. He called me over after the confrontation and told me, "he always does that. You should tell the managers." I was still frustrated and told him that I had specifically prayed about my attitude at the gym today and look what happened. I told my friend, "I need to apologize, but I'll do it in a few minutes." He just shook his head at my folly. On Monday when another gym-bud called to ask why I hadn't been there that morning, I told her about the incident. She said, "he's not allowed to do that! You should have talked to a manager!" I explained the whole apology thing to her and she said, "You have nothing to apologize for!"
You would think that those things would have made me feel better. They were truly concerned about me, and they were on my side, but they didn't get the point of who God is and why I needed to apologize. They were very well-meaning, but completely wrong. And it is my responsibility to know the difference between Godly and un-Godly counsel.
So, lessons learned:
1. Praying specifically will give me opportunities to blow it if I'm not God-aware!
2. When God says apologize, do it immediately
3. When my friends say, "don't worry about it," they're wrong.
4. If I'm willing to apologize to a stranger, I need to be willing to do it with my husband.