I broke my hand in a fistfight.

This week's devotional is from Pastor Art Greco.

ENCOUNTER

I BROKE MY HAND IN A FIST FIGHT. It wasn’t really my fault, though. It was early morning and I was waiting to get into the pool when a guy thought it would be funny to press my bare back against the cold cement wall. Without even thinking, I went into a rage and just reacted, swinging my closed fist at his face just as hard as I could. Problem was, though, that just before I made contact, he turned his head. I heard the bones crunch, but instead of them being the bones in his nose that were crumbling, they were the bones in my hand. Worst part of all was that, while my hand started aching right away, the dude just laughed, rubbed his head a little, and asked me what in the world my problem was.

For those who are now wondering how to cope with a pastor who, at 62 years of age still tries to resolve conflict by brawling, relax.  That really did happen as described, but it was almost 50 years ago, just prior to a lifeguard test when I was in 7th grade at William A Wilson Jr. High School. My “friend” Craig never messed with me again, but I did have to swim (and pass) the entire test with a broken right hand.

The cast I wore for the next six weeks was a daily reminder that I really needed to find a better way to resolve conflicts – preferably one that didn't hurt so much.

 

BE REFLECTIVE

Contemplate the following:

Read II Corinthians 5:11-21. 

  • If Christ’s primary ministry is one of reconciliation;
  • and if he has given his ministry to us;
  • how much tolerance should mature Christians have for unresolved conflict?

Read Romans 12:14-20, focusing especially on v.18

  • Is this an empty command, or might it be possible to be in a “conflict” without being “conflictual”?
  • How are you doing with that?
  •  

BE A BLESSING

“You never know where a blessing can come from” (Teena Marie)

That quote drives this assignment to be a blessing, for today’s challenge is for us to be blessings to people in the most anonymous of ways – prayer.

Set aside one day this week to notice every conflict around you. And every time you notice a conflict (whether large and volatile or seemingly insignificant and softly spoken) pray for resolution and reconciliation.

IN OTHER WORDS, BE A BLESSING BY BEING A SUBVERSIVE FORCE FOR CALM AND PEACE.

 Then, before your head hits the pillow that night, record as many of your observations and as much of your praying that day as you can recall.

 

BE TOGETHER

Here’s an enlightening (and perhaps challenging) assignment – one for those who are single and one for those who are married:

SINGLES: Get face to face with a trustworthy friend or two and share the stories of your most recent conflicts. Be sure to discuss the following points:

  1. What happened.
  2. What your immediate feelings were when it happened.
  3. How you responded/reacted.
  4. The current state of the issue/conflict.
  5. What you think you did well in processing the conflict, and what you would do differently if you had a do-over.
  6. Pray together – for the other person(s) in the conflict and for the ability to grow from the experience.

MARRIEDS: Sit down with your spouse and discuss the most recent disagreement you’ve had that is safe to revisit.  Share and discuss the following points:

  1. Pray, asking God for insight and understanding for each other.
  2. Each of you share your understanding of what led to the conflict (without accusing – just your perspective).
  3. Talk about what you were feeling during the different stages of dealing with it.
  4. Reveal anything your spouse did that you thought was helpful – even the smallest things.
  5. If there was one thing you think Jesus would want to say to you after having watched that last conflict play out, what would it be? (and “I think you were completely right!” isn’t an option).
  6. Hug, then go out for a frozen yogurt together.