One of my favorite teachers, Walter Beuttler, told this story that has made a huge impact on my life.
For a time early in his ministerial career, Walter was pastor at a small church, and there was an annoying woman that had been involved at that church forever. Before every service, she would tell Walter how to conduct the service, don’t forget this, make sure you do that, what songs to sing, all kinds of things. This happened every service for months on end, and Walter finally got fed up with it and asked God why He didn’t do something about her — if she had all the ideas on how to run the church, why didn’t He make her the pastor of the church? He was very frustrated and at the end of his rope, and admitted that she was really “getting my goat”. God’s answer was priceless, as usual.
“If you didn’t have a ‘goat’, she couldn’t get it.”
Walter realized, as do we, that God puts us into situations and circumstances to reveal trouble spots within us, whether it is a lie we’re believing, a wound that needs to be healed, or a character flaw that God is working to change.
Thankfully, we serve a loving and gracious God. Just as in Walter’s Goat example, if we let Him, God reveals our goats in private circumstances. He is not out to embarrass us or use public humiliation in order to get us to change.
Instead God Himself makes the change, and reveals our need for change according to His timing. He does not want us ignorant of what He is doing, for this is how we learn His Ways. Odds are good that if He is letting this problem come to the surface, He has already been working to correct it, and He wants our acceptance, cooperation and gratitude as He finishes His work.
This is also one way we can judge how we are doing. I’d bet that over time Walter could see his annoyance with this woman wane, probably giving way to tolerance, then gratitude and even appreciation.
If Walter had resisted this change, God may have had to resort to revealing Walter’s shortcomings on a wider, more public scale.
Let’s be sensitive and responsive to God’s working in our lives even in the smallest of things, before they become big. And let’s be grateful that He first deals with our Goats in Private when we let Him.
Lord, thank you for bringing to my attention the Goats that you’ve removed, things that used to irritate and frustrate me that no longer do. Thank you for your kindness in bringing those things to my attention in private, and even making those changes in private. Are there any other Goats you have removed that you’d like to bring to my attention at this time?
Lord, I give you permission to reveal and remove all of my Goats. I don’t want to be vulnerable in any area. Are there any other areas where I still have a Goat that you’d like to bring to my attention at this time?
Thank you Daddy!