After spending several weeks preparing a sermon that highlighted the call to Christians to be constantly focused on God's glory and His gift of salvation through Jesus Christ, no matter the circumstances, I recently had a chance to literally "practice what you preach."
The amount of snow we received last Thursday was enough that my wife decided to forgo shoveling the entire driveway and instead wait for me to come home and use the snowblower. I admit, I was not overly excited about this decision (it had been a long, cold day at work and I really wasn't looking forward to spending another hour or more outdoors pushing around a machine), but God reminded me that instead of complaining, I needed to be thankful that my wife had taken the time to shovel our porch and walkway as well as a path from the house to the chicken coop, and that I had a snowblower to use!
Not too far into my work I noticed that the snowblower seemed to be getting warm, and so I brought it into the garage for a quick oil change. About 10 seconds after I re-started the machine, it broke a rod (the engine "blew up").
This was it - my opportunity to put into practice everything that I had studied and written into a sermon about Hebrews 13:9-16. This was my time to put aside old practices and instead focus on the Lord. I did not know it, but my response to this opportunity was being witnessed not only by God Himself, but also by my wife. This is how she described the scene to me the next day:
"I heard the snowblower stop not too long after you went out, so I kept looking outside while I was making dinner. I was really relieved when I saw you come back out with it pretty quickly. While I setting the table I watched through the kitchen window as you started the snowblower back up, and when I heard it make that sound I thought to myself, 'Oh boy!' I was certain that you'd start kicking at the ground and then tossing around the snowblower before dragging it back into the garage . . . But that's not what you did! It absolutely blew me away; you just stood there, looked up slightly, and then calmly walked the snowblower back into the garage. It was so amazing -- I knew that God was working in you, and I was seeing it right at that moment!"
Even though I'm a little embarrassed to admit it, my wife was right: If I had been in this same situation just three weeks ago, my reaction probably would have been a lot like she had feared. But through His Word and His Spirit, God extended grace to me and made it possible for me to handle the circumstances in a way that honored Him, by keeping my heart focused on what's truly important - God!