I was surprised with the sudden commotion among my Mongolian students during break time. The room was in chaos, as each of the two of them fled here and there.
“Teacher, help us! The cockroach is so big!”
My calm composure was challenged. Haha
“Where is it? It isn’t so big. Relax, I will take care of it.”
It didn’t help, as the cockroach tried to escape for its life. I ended up chasing it away while reminding them to calm down in between shooing away the cockroach and whacking it.
That was on Wednesday afternoon, on August 25th, few days before my ESL classes with Mongolians ended.
Personalized Cockroach Theory
That particular Wednesday I confirmed to Steff Caisip, the Midweek worship coordinator at Makiling View Church (MVC) that I would be speaking the next Wednesday (although’ the earlier week I told her my willingness to speak when given the invitation).
In response to prayer, the epiphany on the experience with cockroach was my initial illustration. The message just overflowed, the last chapter of Steps to Christ was impressed – Rejoicing on the Lord. It was timely that I’ve just read “The Cockroach Theory for Self Development”, a phenomenal speech delivered by the new Global Head of Google, Mr. Sundar Pichai. I just summarized and took an excerpt.
At a restaurant, a cockroach suddenly flew from somewhere and sat on a lady. She started screaming out of fear. With a panic stricken face and trembling voice, she started jumping, with both her hands desperately trying to get rid of the cockroach.
Her reaction was contagious, as everyone in her group also got panicky. The lady finally managed to push the cockroach away but …it landed on another lady in the group. Now, it was the turn of the other lady in the group to continue the drama.
The waiter rushed forward to their rescue. In the relay of throwing, the cockroach next fell upon the waiter.
The waiter stood firm, composed himself and observed the behavior of the cockroach on his shirt.
When he was confident enough, he grabbed it with his fingers and threw it out of the restaurant.
Sipping my coffee and watching the amusement, the antenna of my mind picked up a few thoughts and started wondering, was the cockroach responsible for their histrionic behavior?
If so, then why was the waiter not disturbed? He handled it near to perfection, without any chaos.
It is not the cockroach, but the inability of the ladies to handle the disturbance caused by the cockroach that disturbed the ladies.
I realized that, it is not the shouting of my father or my boss or my wife that disturbs me, but it’s my inability to handle the disturbances caused by their shouting that disturbs me. It’s not the traffic jams on the road that disturbs me, but my inability to handle the disturbance caused by the traffic jam that disturbs me.
More than the problem, it’s my reaction to the problem that creates chaos in my life.
Lessons learnt from the story: “Do not react in life. Always respond.“
The women reacted, whereas the waiter responded.
Reactions are always instinctive whereas responses are always well thought of, just and right to save a situation from going out of hands, to avoid cracks in relationship, to avoid taking decisions in anger, anxiety, stress or hurry.
“A person is HAPPY not because everything is RIGHT in his Life.
He is HAPPY because his Attitude towards Everything in his Life is Right.”
I’ve read the tiny, and yet powerful booklet, Steps to Christ, and it was the most translated and most published book of Ellen G. White. It has very practical steps on how to have a closer walk with Jesus. I focused more on the last chapter, “Rejoicing in the Lord” because it is very significant for daily living. Rooted and grounded in faith that works by love, we can triumph through trials and we could be at peace amidst the storms in life if we have the right attitude: to positively response, and not just react.
Being verbose, I often struggle in delivering the message. As much as I wanna uphold brevity, I decided to speak for 15-20 minutes only, shorter is better. When I asked the presider how long is my allotted time, he said, 30-40 minutes. I told him, I want to cut the time to half, as much as possible. He joked that I could even extend to 1 hour (seriously). But although I’m loquacious, I don’t find long sermons interesting (I could endure even up to 2-hour lecture in class setting, but an hour sermon is long to handle).
I prepared a 13-slide PowerPoint presentation. Six of those slides were photos with lil’ information, the rest of seven slides, some quotes and verses. It’s still long, as I reviewed it. I am grateful that I’m progressing with my goal to being a minimalist.
I was blessed to have my siblings with me to support. Zola, my younger sister was appreciative that I was able to practice brevity (it’s a big deal for a verbose me), and very significant and timely message.
The main message is to gracefully respond to what life has to offer. I used Sister Ellen White’s experience, a dream where she encountered a woman in a garden, murmuring and focusing on the thorns, rather than the roses, to emphasize that negativity and pessimistic attitude would never help. Our lives are like the garden, there could be beautiful blossoms of awesome experiences, and there could be thorns and thistles of trials and burdens. It is only through Jesus we could be able to still be grateful in spite of problems we have.
“Let the thorns alone, for they will only wound you. Gather the roses, the lilies, and the pinks.”
These are the questions quoted from Steps to Christ, p.118
- Have there not been some bright spots in your experience?
- Have you not had some precious seasons when your heart throbbed with joy in response to the Spirit of God?
- When you look back into the chapters of your life experience do you not find some pleasant pages?
- Are not God’s promises, like the fragrant flowers, growing beside your path on every hand?
- Will you not let their beauty and sweetness fill your heart with joy?
“The briers and thorns will only wound and grieve you; and if you gather only these things, and present them to others, are you not, besides slighting the goodness of God yourself, preventing those around you from walking in the path of life?”
“It is not wise to gather together all the unpleasant recollections of a past life,—its iniquities and disappointments,—to talk over them and mourn over them until we are overwhelmed with discouragement.
A discouraged soul is filled with darkness, shutting out the light of God from his own soul and casting a shadow upon the pathway of others.”
There would be irksome cockroaches of unexpected circumstances, trials and problems to bug you. But how would you handle it? REACT and freak out? Or RESPOND and handle it with ease and calm composure?
“Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance.” James 1:2-3
© 2015 LAF