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Wednesday, April 6, 2011

What is your "locality"?

 How well God must like you— you don't hang out at Sin Saloon, you don't slink along Dead-End Road, you don't go to Smart-Mouth College. Instead you thrill to God's Word, you chew on Scripture day and night.  You're a tree replanted in Eden, bearing fresh fruit every month, never dropping a leaf, always in blossom.  You're not at all like the wicked, who are mere windblown dust—without defense in court, unfit company for innocent people.  God charts the road you take. The road they take is Skid Row.
(Psalm 1)

The Message Bible really makes several truths in this Psalm plain - let's look at just a few:
  1. God respects the choices we make.  We can either choose our own path, or his.  The simple fact is that it is OUR choice - and he honors it.  If we choose to hang out in places or with people that present opportunities for compromise in our lives, we may.  If we choose to be in the place where God can bless us, he honors that choice.  This does not mean that we never "hang out" anyplace but church, a convent, or a monastery!  God intends for us to be light and salt in this world.  He does expect us to make choices that are honoring to him.
  2. God gives us the tools to help us make the right choices.  The first "tool" he gives us is his Word - the Bible.  Our psalmist reminds us that we are to "chew on it".  In other words, we engage in a process of meditating on it.  Meditation is not something "mystical", but is simply a process of reflecting on something over-and-over again.  Something that is considered that frequently begins to have an affect on us.  The second "tool" outlined is our "proximity" to God - a tree planted well can bear fruit!  If we are not staying close to God - enjoying times of his refreshing - we will be influenced by what we are closest to at that moment in time.
  3. God gives us the ability to bear new fruit.  Fruit is a result of the process of growth.  If there is no active growth, there is no fruit production.  Choices affect action.  Action affects where it is that we end up (our locality).  Locality affects the next steps we take.  
Simply put - if we made the right choice, we manifest actions that yield fruit in the right season.  Think about a small calf in a large pasture.  That calf has many fascinating things that may attract its attention along the way:  a butterfly flits about, the strands of grass moving in the wind a little farther off, the rustling of the leaves in a stand of trees.  As the calf is distracted by these things, it wanders farther and farther from its source of nourishment, protection, and sense of safety (MOM).  Soon, the calf is growing hungry.  It begins to bellow out its misery - calling for the security and nurturing of its mother.  

We are sometimes like that - wandering away, in seeming innocence, then realizing that our wandering has made us miserably hungry!  As long as we stay close enough to the source of our growth, we are content.  When we wander, we "feel it".  

God has given us "feelings" as one way to "measure" our locality.  When we are not quite "feeling right" about where it is that we are at, the choices we have made, the acquaintances we have been keeping, it is likely that our feelings are pointing out the fact that we have wandered too far from the source of our nourishment and nurturing - God.  Remember this:  The tree "planted" is the one that bears fruit!