A grumpy day that God used for His glory (A ‘Just the other day story’ )

I love all who love me. Those who search will surely find me. (Proverbs 8:17 NLT)

I was having one of those days. One of those days where I wish I could roll back over and go to bed.

I did not want to do anything. I was grumpy and it is not a day I want to talk to anyone.

But in my life, that is not an option. I had to get up. So, I got up at 5am, did my devotional, did my workout, had breakfast, kissed my kids and my (exceptionally understanding) wife and then I got on the train into the city.

Usually on the train, I study, I read or I work during the hour long commute.

This day, I stared out the window. Nothing profound to think about. I just did not want to engage with anything or anyone.

I got into the City Bible Forum office, bought a $1 coffee (all I can afford today) and it tasted like a 50 cent coffee. Everything and everyone seemed to irritate me. I put in the earbuds, checked email and got some work done or at least pretended to work.

What was running through my head?

‘Am I supposed to be be doing ministry at all? What is God doing to me? I don’t want to be here!’ (Just being real)

You may not have these days, but the reality is, that is what ran through my head.

I went to City Bible Forum with one of my best friends. How do I know he is a friend? He put up with my incessant whinging (complaining) for the trip to the event.

We set up for the talk. All was going fine. I was able to put on the good game face. (That means faking it!)

What was the talk for the day?

How humility makes a difference by Dr John Dickson.

Great talk. Actually, it was too good. I needed to hear it, but I did not want to hear it.

During this incredible talk came the passage: For those who exalt themselves will be humbled, and those who humble themselves will be exalted.” (Luke 18:9-14 NLT)

I wanted to crawl under the tables. If you look at the beginning of this update, the update is chock full of ‘I’s. I started the day thinking about me. The mirror of the passage in Luke was on me. I was gutted. I was at a loss to how to respond.

So, what did I do?

Got out of there. Once we were done tearing down the event, thanking john for the talk, I excused myself and escaped.

I went to get a haircut.

I was a fool.

The lady, Maria from Ireland, cutting my hair started chatting with me. Innocently about the day. I sat there thinking, ‘Don’t ask the question. Please do not ask the question. Yes, keep talking about your camera. Do not ask the question.’

She asked the question.

‘So, what do you do?’

Ugh! I thought to myself, ‘Not today, I am not on my game. I am not focused. Honestly, the last thing I wanted to talk about was God.’ I know, shame on me, but the it is reality of the moment.

What did I do?

I told her what I do.

My job, my life is to talk to people about Jesus and the Bible. It’s what I do.

What happened?

I had one of the most significant conversations with someone about what it is to be a Christian. Comparing other belief systems, personal testimonies and I was able to lay out the Gospel from beginning to end. She did not take any other customers, but was engaged in the conversation. She took my information and thanked me for the time. (I ended up with a very short haircut,  the more we talked, the more she cut. It was worth it.)

Guess what. I was thrilled and interestingly I was still grumpy. Yet, The Lord used me. Despite myself. He was glorified. Maria heard the Good News, even though I was in a jerky mood all day.

In the end,  God gets all the credit. Nothing was of me today and that is how it should be.

You truly are incredible. Thanks Lord, I am a bit less grumpy now.

(As a ‘just the other day’ story. This is dedicated to a great friend and mentor. He encouraged me to pray for these things. He even put up with the lack of humility in recent correspondence with him. Thanks, mate. You are a blessing and an example of humility.)


  1. Ron Matthews says:

    First of all I take responsibility in part for your “mood” when you are tired! It is either genetic, or learned. When I am extremely tired/fatigued I get very grumpy I can especially tell this when I start swearing at my tools (to myself fortunately at least most of the time). But a while back I had an aha moment when I gained a better, more compassionate understanding of my Dad who used to get this way too. Then I realized, he worked a 12 hour day in a very stressful job and then came home to farm for hours. I respond to your story the same way when I think about all you do every day and especially most recently. Thank you for your honesty and humility, but most of all your incredible commitment to the Lord’s work, no matter what your fatigue level or mood! As well as His work in/thru you!

  2. Nancy Martin says:

    Thanks for your transparent post…. sometimes I don’t want to admit the fact that I ‘can do’ ministry without being connected to the Source… Sometimes there is this rut we can fall into where Bible lessons and music ministry can become almost automatic when we have done it for years.

    I am glad your hair stylist gave you the chance to be real with her and I will be praying for Maria. Thanks for sharing, Russ. I am thinking you made God smile!

    Nancy :)

  3. Shon Bruellman says:

    Russ, you did it again and hit me right where I find myself living so often… with a sour attitude and grumpy disposition that the devil often uses to drive me only deeper into the pits of shame and guilt. It is in that darkness that so often I experience the very thing you did; someone comes along in need and as you talk to them of the mercies of the cross and the power of it to transform lives that we recognize that the Spirit is using us to minister to ourselves as much if not more than the person in front of us needs the words.

    I trust the realization of how God used you despite yourself will help you ‘boast in your weaknesses’ and that there will be a renewed awe of the depth, width, and height of the love of God for you, an undeserving sinner which will spill out of you and come to rest on those around you who are also undeserving sinners.

    Galatians6:14 But far be it from me to boast except in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ, by which the world has been crucified to me, and I to the world.

    One other side thought for you to chew on for the day, and that is the question: Is forgiveness enough? To be forgiven; is that lofty enough of a goal for us to shoot for with God and with Christ? I don’t think so for it misses the relationship aspect which is so critical to victorious living for only this leads to actions out of love and not duty. Though a governor can pardon (forgive) a prisoner that is to be executed he will likely never see that person or invite him into his home. The prisoner is forgiven, but he’s not ACCEPTED and to be ‘accepted’ makes all the difference in the world.

    Ephesians 1:5-6 Having predestinated us unto the adoption of children by Jesus Christ to himself, according to the good pleasure of his will, (6) To the praise of the glory of his grace, wherein he hath made us accepted in the beloved.

    Adopted…accepted. This is so much more than simply being forgiven! It’s being pardoned from the death chair and then having the Governor embrace us in love as we are unstrapped from the table and taken to his mansion to feast at the banquet table of prime rib and lobster and live with him forever.

    Also consider the parable of prodigal son who knew he could be forgiven by his father but did not see that he could be accepted back into the home.

    I always have to remind myself that the story is just a parable, and is mainly directed toward the Phariseeical attitude denoted in the second son but could it be, brother Russ that one of the other messages in the parable is that the son really couldn’t understand just how loving, merciful, and accepting his father was despite his sin? (Actually, it was both sons that missed this since the chapter starts out with grumpy scribes and Pharisees yet kindness and mercy was shown to both…)

    May people come to see and embrace the reality of how in Christ there is more than simply forgivness, but that there is acceptance, there is adoption, there is fellowship with the Father through the beloved Lamb who was `…slain to take away the sins of the world.’



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