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Friday, September 24, 2010

Truckloads of Lemons

18 If people can't see what God is doing,
   they stumble all over themselves;
But when they attend to what he reveals,
   they are most blessed. 
(Proverbs 29:18)

You have probably heard the saying, "If life gives you lemons, make lemonade."  I think this is probably somebody's way of trying to keep a positive focus on a whole lot of negative stuff that is happening to them.  But even after a while, a steady diet of lemonade gets to taste pretty bitter!  Your physical body can only handle so much "acidic" intake before it starts to rebel with changes internally that you may not fully recognize until they have created a state of imbalance that you cannot easily bounce back from.  Guess what - your spiritual state of "balance" can be equally as disturbed by a steady diet of "bitterness" just as easily.  

Our writer reminds us that not being able to see what God is doing leads to us stumbling all over ourselves.  Sometimes, we even stumble all over each other in the process.  For many of us, "not seeing what God is doing" can be more common-place than we think.  It took me a long while in my own walk to finally come to the place where I took the time to just settle myself down long enough to finally get to the place that God could even show me what he was doing!  I charged around in the chaos of the moment, wondering all along what God was doing, but not even bothering being quiet in my spirit long enough for him to speak to me.  I was adding even more chaos to the situation in my inattention to God.

The danger of becoming more focused on what you can do with the "lemons" in life than on how God wants you to be processing those "lemons" is that we may become very bitter by their influence over us.  Whenever we give life's issues more attention than we give God, we get chaos.  Where chaos is present, the soil of our hearts, minds, and spirits are ripe for a harvest of bitter fruit.  Chaos is a state of utter confusion, disorder, or turmoil.  In chaos, we don't see clearly - we interpret things through a perspective that is clouded by the acidic nature of the circumstances.  Acid burns - it creates a sour mood, unkind responses, and unintended consequences.  

It is a fine line between being caught up in the moment and being silent in God's presence.  It is a matter of the will to be attentive to quieting oneself in the midst of chaos.  Yet, as we are reminded in our passage, that is exactly how God intends to keep us from a steady intake of "lemonade" that turns us bitter on the inside!  In the quiet of his presence, we are "re-balanced".  Whenever I find myself interpreting life's issues as though they are lemons just ripe for making lemonade, God helps me to remember that I really don't like the taste of lemonade!  His Holy Spirit is kind of like our spiritual "litmus" paper - that tiny strip of paper that lets us see if a substance is acidic or alkaline.  Too acidic and we need to re-balance in order to not become bitter old bags!  Too alkaline and we need to re-balance in order to have any impact as the salt of this earth!

As you may have heard, to be "blessed" is to be happy.  It is not a promise that God will lavish all kinds of material blessings on us, but rather a reminder that our hearts, minds, and spirits will be "re-centered" on what matters, what gives true hope, and what will create inner peace in the time of trial.  If life is giving you lemons right now, ask God to show you how to handle the lemons.  Get quiet long enough for the Spirit of God to show you just how much of those lemons you have internalized and how they have affected your inner spirit.  When you do, he can bring balance again and help you to avoid the bitterness that comes when we try to deal with truckloads of lemons all on your own!