By Randy Kosloski
Remember the story about Jesus turning over the tables in the temple? Probably you do because it was surprisingly out of character for Jesus. Wouldn´t it have been amazing to see Jesus full of passion for His Father’s house and angered by what the merchants had made it? Jesus is most often thought of as being considerate, meek and even mild, yet here, in the “den of robbers,” He is fiery and aggressive. These characteristics do not fit well with our idea of Jesu; but it seems Jesus was not concerned with fitting into the mold which others made for Him. He was more concerned with making His actions fit with His Father’s will. In this situation, Jesus let it be known that He was prepared to take the necessary steps to do the right thing, regardless of what people thought or expected.
Conforming to certain norms is a human idea, not a godly one. In contrast the Bible says, “There is a time for everything, and a season for every activity under the heavens” (Ecclesiastes 3:1).
Like many of us, a former client of mine, Robert, needed to learn this lesson. Unfortunately he needed to learn it about 15 years before I ever got the chance to speak with him.
If Wikipedia had a picture under the definition for a middle-aged man, it would be a picture of Robert. He was average height with male pattern baldness. A spare tire hung over his belt. He wore a ’70s mustache, thick glasses, and must have purchased the bulk of his wardrobe from a golf course. Although his appearance was typical, his family was in disarray. He had two teenage daughters who were in significant trouble, socially, legally and educationally. His wife was domineering and constantly overspending. All the while, Robert kept himself quietly frustrated on the sidelines.
Often as I sat facing Robert, listening to his issues, I felt like I was looking at my own future. Robert and I had similar personalities. We were both idealists and we were both passive by nature. He would talk about how his family got away from him, and how he felt powerless to help because no one listened to him. All the while I saw my bald, pot-bellied, frustrated future forming right in front of me. The image shook me. Would I have the courage to overturn the tables when I began to see things heading in the wrong direction?
To draw a comparison using our physical limitations, few would say that a handicapped person should be confined by their physical capacity, yet few possess the courage to overcome their obstacles. Nick Vujilic in his book “Life Without Limits” describes his spiritual growth beyond the limitations of his physical body without arms or legs. Vujilic describes finding the courage to look for God’s will regardless of what it demanded from him, or regardless of what he believed he could accomplish. The same courage is often required for us in our quest to do what is right.
I once met a woman who never seemed to lack courage. I was partnering with some other researchers on a project for which Dr. Maya Angelou’s biographies kept coming up as pertinent material, so one of my research partner’s arranged an interview with her. We were able to spend the day with her—one of the most memorable of my life! I felt joyfully drained following my afternoon with her. She could teach in a second something that would be remembered for the rest of one’s life. And not just with words. Her actions and attitudes were all aimed at doing the right thing.
Dr. Angelou did not allow a Type A or Type B personality to dictate her behavior. She was guided by the same ideals as Superman: truth, justice and simply doing the right thing. She taught me that personalities are boundless; that we can be scrutinizing and accepting, assertive and accommodating—all at once.
Robert needed courage. He needed to confront his wife and rebuke his daughters in order to try and right the ship God had entrusted to him: his family. What Rick Warren described as the tunnel of conflict creating a passageway to true intimacy applied in his life. Regardless of Robert’s natural personality, he had to find the God-given strength to do what needed to be done. As I discussed these things with him, in many ways, he had already missed his chance, and was relegated to damage-control mode. Perhaps his family could have been more help to him 15 years ago, but that in no way absolved him of his responsibility now. He needed to let go of his dreams along with his self-imposed character limitations and fight for his family.
We too, need to fight for what is right, to turn the tables over, if need be, even if we have a tendency to remain passive. We should seize opportunities to right our own ship early on in the voyage, and perhaps find a better future than the one I saw in the eyes of Robert during our meetings together. “For I know the plans I have for you…plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you a hope and a future” (Jeremiah 29:11). God has revealed His heart to us, so we can trust He has a better future in mind for us!