Nobody likes to hear those words. In three syllables, we know something is coming and it cannot be avoided. It brings to mind movie scenes of space shuttles crashing back down to earth, or a cop whose boss is storming over with a bristling mustache. You almost don’t want to know what’s coming.
But you know who’s the last person you want saying those words?
When an omniscient, all-powerful being tells you to brace yourself, it could be ANYTHING.
So here’s what happened…
Someone dear to me texted me the other day and said that something bad had happened to them. Nothing life-threatening, just an encounter that slammed a hammer on all their insecurities and brought them to their knees. I can’t give details, but I knew instantly that this was a crushing blow to their self-esteem.
I made plans to speak with them in person once they got off work, and then I went on a walk to pray about the situation. While I did, God sent me a message.
“Brace yourself against this person.”
It wasn’t in those words, or even words at all. Just an idea, a nudge in my spirit that said this person who I was eager to help would hit me where it hurts.
And they did. When we talked that evening, they were in a horrible state. Their innermost self had been crushed unjustly and they lashed out in bitterness, and one of those missiles hit me somewhere I didn’t see coming. It was a vicious, unfair, unjust, unwarranted attack on something they knew would cut me deeply.
And the Lord did sayeth, “See? What’d I tell you?”
I think most of us could better handle bad things if they weren’t sprung on us. My wife had a much easier time grieving over her grandfather’s death than her grandmother’s because the former they saw coming while the latter shocked everyone. I can’t imagine how my early writing classes would have gone had the teacher not warned us all that critiques would be brutal.
Without the shock and flooding emotions, we’re all a lot more able to handle disaster.
So when this trusted person took a stab straight at my heart, I didn’t let it get to me. Even though I wasn’t prepared for the specifics of the attack, God reminded me what he’d said when it happened. And throughout the day I had already resolved in my heart not to get hurt by this person.
I did get hurt. I couldn’t control that. However, I could control my reaction. I remained silent when I wanted to yell. I stayed when I wanted to leave. And I forgave long before they asked for it. In short, God’s warning allowed me to have the grace that defines a Christian.
This isn’t a blog post to brag about how holy I am. On the contrary, if God hadn’t warned me, I would have gone into full selfish mode and made things far worse.
Thankfully, God often warns his people about disaster (The prophets, the teachings of Jesus, the Book of Revelation). Even general warnings punctuate the Bible. But we need to listen.
I’ve been practicing keeping an open ear for God lately and it paid off. God warned me and I could see my pain objectively. It lessened the hurt and allowed me to be the Godly man I needed to be at the time. The person who hurt me eventually calmed down and apologized.
Being Godly requires God’s help. So when he speaks, make sure you’re listening. And when you hear something, make sure you do it. If God says “Brace yourself,” you’d better buckle up.