First World Problems

I had an eventful (for me) evening after work today. I actually didn’t get home until almost 9 pm (me the wild and crazy little rebel). I made one of my periodic pilgrimages to McKay’s Used Books. I had plenty of loot to trade and I managed to score a few good deals. Afterward, I did some fine dining at Taco Bell, a la one steak Doubledilla.

When I got to the counter, the guy in front of me was obviously exasperated at the slow service. He made a comment along the lines of “I guess the drive-thru is the only way to get service around here.” He left in a huff after 5-10 minutes of waiting. If that long.

I’m not here to bash the guy.

What I can say is that I can’t do the same. Ever since a friend of mine started talking about first world problems, my way of looking at life in America has changed. I have a really hard time getting upset over having to wait for fast food when so many people around the globe didn’t have anything at all to eat all day.

What is a first world problem? It’s something that would only be considered a problem if you’re middle-class suburban American used to microwaves, fast food, and other conveniences. It’s for people who probably won’t ever have to worry about where the next meal is coming from or if the water they’re drinking is clean or not.

God is opening my eyes to what people face in third world countries. Some walk for miles each day to bring back water that isn’t safe to drink, but it’s all they have. They can’t go down the street and buy bottled water from the nearest grocery store. Too many people (including children) will get sick and even die from drinking that contaminated water.

Here I am with multiple options of bottled water at my fingertips. How dare I complain? I am way more blessed than I deserve.

Here endeth the lesson. I’m not trying to make you feel bad for having conveniences, but I hope you will realize that in the grand scheme of things most of what bothers us isn’t really all that important and definitely not worth getting upset about. That’s all. Carry on.


One Second and One Year Later


“What was intended to tear you apart, God intends it to set you apart. What has torn you, God makes a thin place to see glory” (Ann Voskamp, The Greatest Gift).

I just realized today that it’s been exactly one year today since I got hit by that car. And for those who weren’t keeping up with my blogs or my Facebook posts then, I got hit by a car. FYI.

I was crossing the street in downtown Franklin, ticket in hand to see The Perks of Being a Wallflower. I didn’t look both ways before crossing and stepped in front of a Ford Mustang. Hey, I only get hit by the finest American-made vehicles.

I actually only got side-swiped. It was enough to knock me down and to take off the side-view mirror of the car.

I felt worse for the young girl driving the car than for me. She was so apologetic and remorseful. And it really wasn’t her fault. I was the one crossing where there wasn’t a crosswalk, walking without looking.

Even now, it’s easy to wonder what would have happened if I’d waited one second. Just one second.

I’d have seen that movie. I’d have skipped a few hours in the ER. I’d still have roughly $1,600 in my pocket.

I’m sure you’ve done that.

Maybe it’s a word or a phrase spoken in the heat of the moment out of frustration or anger.

Maybe it’s a bad decision made in haste or out of desperation or anxiety or exhaustion.

Maybe it’s the friendship you ruined or the family member you drove off with an insensitive remark or unkind word.

Maybe it’s one false step on a slick spot in the garage or on a slippery patch of ice on some stairs.

You wonder what it would be like if you could just have that one second back to do over.

I know two things: 1) if you could go back, you’d erase every good thing that’s happened since, and 2) you can’t go back anyway (at least not without a 1985 DeLorean or some other time-travelling device).

What you can do is:

1) Be thankful that you’re still here and that you’re still alive and blessed with life and friends and comforts and (best of all) God Himself.

2) Remember that God can turn even the worst moments of your life into stories worth hearing, stories that make people want to know more about your God.

3) All really and truly is grace (something I borrowed from Ann Voskamp). Nothing that happens to you is in vain or needless. God works everything– and I mean EVERYTHING– together for your good and His glory.

I finally got to see that movie. My finger looks a bit funny but it still works. I look both ways EVERY time before crossing the street now. Life is still good, God is still great, and I am still very much blessed.

My two cents on spiritual warfare

A group of guys and I have been watching a DVD series on spiritual warfare by Chip Ingram called The Invisible War (and yes, that was a shameless plug). It got me thinking about the mindset of so many American believers (including me) regarding the whole topic of spiritual warfare. Plainly put, either most of us don’t believe there is an war going on with an enemy that is constantly seeking our destruction. If we believe, we sure don’t live like it much of the time. Again, me included.

The war is real. The enemy is real. In this world, we are not tourists on vacation, or passengers on some kind of luxury cruise, but soldiers engaged in battle. Our ignorance of the battle and our enemy can only do us harm. We need to wake up to realize that we are under attack. But here’s the best part.

The battle is already won. Chip Ingram said, “As believers in Christ, we don’t fight FOR victory. We fight FROM victory.” That’s the good news (which is why it’s called the gospel!). But there is still a battle.

We fight back by putting on the armor of God as described in Ephesians 6: the belt of truth, the breastplate of righteousness, the shoes of the gospel of peace, the shield of faith, the helmet of salvation and the sword of the Spirit. We should pray these on every morning and pray these for each other on a daily basis. We should pray with eyes wide open to the spiritual realm, asking God to give us eyes to see the battle around us like the Elijah prayed for his servant when they were surrounded by the Syrian army. We should pray for discernment and wisdom. Most of all, we should pray at all times to be Spirit-filled and Spirit-controlled, taking every thought captive and submitting them to the Lordship of Jesus Christ.

We must fight together. If you are fighting the enemy on your own, apart from other believers, you may succeed for a season, but you will ultimately grow weary and faint. You will stumble and fall. You need other believers praying God’s protection over you, encouraging you and keeping you honest.

We fight ultimately with one weapon– LOVE. Not as a feeling, but as a decisive act of the will. We fight by showing that Calvary’s love is stronger than hate and that love overcomes anything. Chip Ingram said, “Love is giving to another person what they need the most when they deserve it least.” Love is doing whatever you can, even to your own detriment, for the good of the beloved. It means dying to yourself and your rights and own ideas about how the world should work.

So live with eyes wide open, hands raised, side by side with your brothers and sisters in Christ. And remember that the battle is already won and that we have overcome!

As always, I believe. Help my unbelief.