When Paths Cross
It happened again. Another unfortunate circumstance created a poor attitude that developed a bad outcome. Negative circumstances occur regularly and cannot be controlled, however, each person controls their response.
Have you ever been there? The exact environment may be different, but the inevitable occurrence is similar. Someone accidentally cuts you off while driving down the road- your monster comes out and road rage ensues. The fast food operator is moving slow and your order gets messed up. Someone beats you to the “10 items or less line” when you’re in a hurry and clearly has 17 items. Your child calls from school telling you they forgot part of their report at home for the second time this week. The person you witness slacking off at work just got a raise. You feel your wrath stirring up.
Have you been there? Yes, most likely, we all have been there at some point in our life journey. Passing the baton of hurt and anger is an unfortunate circumstance, which develops all too often. Circumstances cannot always be controlled, however, the attitude that develops matters.
On a daily basis, our paths cross with another person. At each occurrence, your attitude has the ability to bring joy or squash it. From my “competitive outrage” at sporting events to grumping at the guy working on my vehicle- the attitude that is delivered matters. Standing for our self-proclaimed rights while potentially pushing people further away from Jesus is wrong.
Acts 7:54-60 gives us a remarkable example. In this brief encounter, we see the sad, untimely death of Stephen as he was being stoned for his faith in Jesus. During the brutality, Stephen called out to God, seeking His forgiveness towards those that sought to kill him.
Standing in the crowd as an observer was Saul, a man whose life mission, at the time, was to destroy the early church. In this moment, as their paths crossed Saul watched Stephen calling out for forgiveness despite being put to death. Saul witnessed an attitude that was completely foreign to the world we call home.
I often wonder about that encounter, just two chapters later (Acts 9) we see this man, Saul, encountering Jesus on the road to Damascus- transforming from Saul to the Apostle Paul. In this short time period, this man turned from a killer of Christians to an unstoppable force advancing Jesus’ message of hope.
Did his encounter with Stephen plant a seed that later blossomed when he met Jesus? We cannot say for sure, but I am left to ponder that it did impact Saul in some way. We do not know what happened with Saul between those two encounters. We do not know what may have been happening within his heart, however, we can say that Stephen’s attitude left a lasting impression on those witnesses.
The reality is that your attitude matters. It provides the potential to bring hope or squash it. Circumstances do not need to define you. Be an example, not only in your times of trouble and despair, but also in your times of frustration. Allow your attitude to reveal something better, despite the hurdles life may bring your way. Thank God for the trying times. He doesn’t want to leave you as you are. He cares about you so much that He wants to make you more like Him.
What attitude will you choose to display today? Someone’s always watching.