Saturday, April 30, 2011

Do You Really Want the Sledgehammer?

The LORD confides in those who fear him; he makes his covenant known to them. Psalm 25:14

When friends in our life present us a message, they often begin their approach with subtle suggestion. If they notice no change, often they will attempt something a little firmer. A true friend, though, will stick with you on an important issue until you hear; even if it means being so harsh that you feel like you have been beaten with a sledgehammer.

Let us be alert to hear the message when it is subtle and feels more full of grace like a feather. If not, we may find ourselves left bloodied and hurting from the wounds of a sledgehammer.

. . .so it is with my word that goes out from my mouth: It will not return to me empty, but will accomplish what I desire and achieve the purpose for which I sent it. Isaiah 55: 11

Though you have made me see troubles, many and bitter, you will restore my life; again; from the depths of the earth you will again bring me up. You will increase my honor and comfort me once again. Psalm 71: 20-21

Don't Choose the Field Trip

Learn the lesson in the classroom . . .so that you don’t have to go on the field trip.

I’m thinking now of a friend that does not seem to choose to learn from the wisdom of others. Yes, I understand that the things suggested by the wise or by God-inspired words are not always convenient, not always easy, not always popular and don’t always feel good (see Colossians 2:8 below) . To throw the wisdom away based on any of these superficial reasons is to risk a painful field trip, and perhaps, risk taking innocent bystanders along for the ride.

I listened to a wise man giving advice to a friend. There were many common themes to his message: forgiveness, letting go, moving on. . .but there was one tangible piece of advice that he offered that was unmistakably concrete.

How is it that sometimes you understand the counsel given to others so clearly. . .and the intended party remains oblivious? They rationalize, explain, justify. . . all with no intention to implement. Should we not worry when we work overtime NOT to execute the wisdom bestowed on us or instead asking ourselves “Why do I protest so much?”

After a battle with the warring spirits of rationalization, explanation, and justification, we are left ruffled and uneasy. But when we take in the advice, consider it, and pray over it, even if, afterwards we don’t agree with it, we are left with a sense of peace.

God has blessed me with the opportunity to learn from other people’s experiences many times, but it is up to me to put this learning into use. . .lest, I too, end up on a field trip of my own.

I rejoice in following your statutes as one rejoices in great riches. I meditate on your precepts and consider your ways. I delight in your decrees: I will not neglect your word. Proverbs 119:14-16

See to it that no one takes you captive through hollow and deceptive philosophy, which depends on human tradition and the basic principles of this world rather than on Christ. Colossians 2:8

. . .A man is a slave to whatever has mastered him. 2 Peter 2:19b