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Saturday, April 10, 2010

Learning to dance

Psalm 119:65-72 (The Message) "Be good to your servant, GOD; be as good as your Word. Train me in good common sense; I'm thoroughly committed to living our way. Before I learned to answer you, I wandered all over the place, but now I'm in step with your Word. You are good and the source of good, train me in our goodness. The godless spread lies about me, but I focus my attention on what you are saying. They're bland as a bucket of lard, while I dance to the tune of your revelation. My troubles turned out all for the best - they forced me to learn from your textbook. Truth from your mouth means more to me than striking it rich in a gold mine."

Ever known anyone who had all the "book learning" (really knew their stuff) - kind of a genius or expert in their field of study - but lacking in even the least little bit of common sense? It is amazing to me how many times we can fall prey to "knowing" all the right things to do, the right words to speak, the right steps to take - all the while responding or acting in a way that reflects a total lack of common sense! Knowing can be associated with getting knowledge - yet simply learning "how to" is not the completion of developing our knowledge-base for life. We need to couple "learned" knowledge with "heart" knowledge - the stuff we come to understand because it has taken root deep within our inner being through frequent association and incorporation of it into our inner man.

David asks God to train him in common sense. Why? He knows that a knowledge of God's Word is not enough - he needs the wisdom (applied knowledge) God provides in order to interpret that awareness of what the Word says with a revelation of how it is to be "operationalized" in his daily life. For example: If I have learned that turning the dial on the stove produces heat from the burner, I have learned simply that heat is produced by turning the dial. If I then gain the additional knowledge that heat is good for cooking food, and that food cooked well is good for nourishing my body, I have added to my knowledge-base. Up to this point, I have only learned that I can cook the food on the stove top and that cooked food is good to eat. Now, here comes the adding of wisdom (applied knowledge) to my knowledge-base: I learn to discern what types of foods, when cooked on my stove, are better at providing me a well-balanced diet for my body, producing health and a source of energy for the physical demands of my day. I learn to exercise some "common sense" in my food choices that help to produce a better outcome to my body. I could live on Mac & Cheese all my life - but man does not live by Mac & Cheese alone!

The Psalmist has come to a place in his walk that he has learned the value of applying the principles taught in the Word of God to his daily life - using them as a guide for his responses to the challenges he faces, trainer for his soul (mind, will and emotions), and a melody for his heart-song. To be "trained" in common sense, he has opened himself up to God's instruction. He has allowed God to direct his growth - through a spiritual "pruning" process, coupled with redirecting his course of action whenever necessary - much as a gardener will tenderly prune and train a plant to produce the desired growth he desires to see. Training is a "forming" process - through instruction, discipline, and repetition - we come to a place of being "transformed" by the renewing of our minds (the seat of knowledge).

The goal of all training is to make one fit, qualified, or proficient. David has learned some lessons about life apart from relying on God to direct his course of action - it is a life characterized by wandering all over the place. I have had some lazy days when I just knew that I didn't want to be engaged in any real form of constructive work. I set off in no particular direction, all the while having no real end in mind, and by the end of the day, I have accomplished just what I set out to do: nothing! We all need "lazy days" when we really just don't have any real focus in mind other than to just "take a day off" and enjoy some relaxation. If we make a steady diet of these types of unproductive days, we will soon find ourselves in trouble!

Our Psalmist points us in the right direction - get knowledge, but learn from God's direction just how to apply it to our lives so that we don't go about life wandering hither and yon. When we face struggles or challenges in life - relationally, emotionally, in our physical bodies, or in our financial needs - we need to come back to the source of all knowledge and wisdom for the directing of our course. It is then that we will be able to say, as did the Psalmist, "My troubles turned out all for the best!"

We cannot lose sight of what David said next: "They (my troubles) forced me to learn from your textbook." His troubles drove him to find answers right where he knew he could find them - in the Word of God. In Bible College, one of the professors did a week-long study on the importance of a "Rhema" (pronounced RAYMA) from God. When God makes his Word come alive for us, speaking deep into our inner man, answering some of life's tough questions or providing us some deeply needed hope, he has given us a Rhema (his word made alive in our hearts). If we would learn the lesson of coming back to the Word with our life challenges, we'd soon learn the value of God's Word revealing the "how to" of handling those very challenges. There we find the truths that bring us revelation of what actions to take and the actions we should avoid - if we take that knowledge and apply it to our circumstance, we have added to our knowledge "wisdom".

I echo David's heart-response to God's revelation: "Truth from your mouth means more to me than striking it rich in a gold mine." His truth has been an anchoring-point for my life for over 38 years. It has comforted me through times of deep-emotional pain during times of loss, like when my Dad passed from this earth into eternity. He was an awesome guy - always supportive, always there for me, always Dad. God's Word was there for me anchoring me firmly to the reality that God was my shelter and provider, even in the chaos of the ending of 10 years of marriage, the uncertainty of raising two children on my own, and the uneasiness of stepping out into the workforce full-time some 20+ years ago. His Word has anchored me through the loss of jobs through down-sizing, the concern that a rapidly growing tumor may have been cancerous, and even through the lonely times when my heart just yearned for companionship. In the revelation of his Word, I have found all that I have needed for life. With David, I can say with a certainty, "I am thoroughly committed to living your way, God."

One closing thought this morning: Learn to dance to the tune of God's revelation. It is a rewarding venture!