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Saturday, August 21, 2010

Take and listen

21 We humans keep brainstorming options and plans,
   but God's purpose prevails. 
(Proverbs 19:21)

How silly it is to think we have the solutions to the things we face on a daily basis, all tucked away in our arsenal of thinking and reasoning.  It is a pretty common fact that many of us spend more time focusing on the potential solution to a problem than we do in seeking God for direction.  

At best, we may have a couple of ideas, options that we consider viable solutions to the problem, but our insight into the true nature of the problem is limited by our knowledge, position, experience, and influence.  When we 'opt' for a solution, we are choosing to take a path that we see as only one alternative - we choose it as what we believe to be the "best" alternative.

Options are the various 'scenarios' of the solution - the 'what if'.  A plan is a method for achieving a particular end.  It is perhaps more deeply thought out than an option.  A plan may take into consideration the customary or usual method of achieving the end result.  A plan is limited, though, by experience or understanding.  If we have never experienced something, we may consider that solution to a problem as only one of the 'options'.  

It is important to submit to wise counsel and to take everything before God because of our limitations and the very feebleness of our plans.  Our writer of this Proverb offers an additional insight into not considering the problem at the feet of Jesus:

27 If you quit listening, dear child, and strike off on your own,
   you'll soon be out of your depth. 

There is no safety in being 'out on your own' - we may not realize when we move in the direction of independent action, but we will certainly realize it in the end product that is produced by that action.  We get in "too deep" for our understanding or ability - then, like impassioned children, we cry for help!

It is easy to get into things that are both beyond our ability to endure and to overcome.  Getting in too deep is both a conscious choice and an unconscious drift.  Whenever we consciously choose a certain course of action in a vacuum of what we see or perceive alone, we really never consider the consequences prior to setting out in our independent action.  Whenever we make an unconscious choice toward a certain course of action, we can be caught up into that course without any real thinking or control over the outcomes.

So, if we are finding that the actions we are taking are getting us 'out of our depth' more often than not, it is time to pull back and consider how we are handling issues.  It is likely that we find that we are given toward impulsive, independent actions quite frequently - never taking into consideration that God has a plan for us that may be quite different than the actions we are contemplating.

They key is to first 'take' the issues to God and then to 'listen' to what he advises on them.  When we 'take' them to God, we stop all the 'mulling over' of the issue in our own thought processes and allow God to direct us to a new thought process that helps us see things from his perspective.  When we 'listen' to his purposes, we reap the reward of stepping out in faith upon what he reveals.