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Sunday, May 27, 2012

The devil is in the details!

How many times have we heard the idiom, "The devil is in the details"?  Did you ever realize the origin of this idiom actually went:  "God is in the detail"?  Quite a difference, huh?  There is more than one difference here - do you see it?  First, the biggest is God vs. the Devil.  But...look at the subtle differences.  With the devil, it is the "details" (plural) which is the focus.  With God, the word is "detail" (singular).  This is not a mis-type.  It is the original form.  I wonder if the devil gets us so wrapped up in the details so we will miss the detail God is intending for our present focus? 


One of the most recent forms of this idiom is:  "The truth, if it exists, is in the details".  Maybe you don't get very excited by understanding the origin of the various idioms we use so freely, but when we stop long enough to examine them, we see some interesting stuff.  With this in mind, let's launch into our scripture:


Our work as God's servants gets validated—or not—in the details. People are watching us as we stay at our post, alertly, unswervingly . . . in hard times, tough times, bad times; when we're beaten up, jailed, and mobbed; working hard, working late, working without eating; with pure heart, clear head, steady hand; in gentleness, holiness, and honest love; when we're telling the truth, and when God's showing his power; when we're doing our best setting things right; when we're praised, and when we're blamed; slandered, and honored; true to our word, though distrusted; ignored by the world, but recognized by God; terrifically alive, though rumored to be dead; beaten within an inch of our lives, but refusing to die; immersed in tears, yet always filled with deep joy; living on handouts, yet enriching many; having nothing, having it all.              (2 Corinthians 6:4-10 The Message)


Wow!  Our service is validated (or not) in the details of our lives!  Now, this should give us cause to pause.  Think of the details of the past one hour.  Maybe you are at work, or simply luxuriating in a late start on a day off.  Regardless, you had some "details" you could recall.  Now, take this one step further - how many of those "details" actually matter in the whole scheme of things?  Now I have gone meddling!


There are times in life when we just get caught up in the details without really taking any close look at what they contribute to the overall impact of our day.  Paul reminds us we are being watched.  We may not realize who, or how many, but people are watching us.  They may be looking in curiosity to see how it is we work through the tough times.  They may be even attach an element of admiration when they see us beaten up, but still moving forward.  Yet, the most important thing for us to understand is the opening statement - "in the details".  


Tough times, difficult projects, and oppressive forces - the details manifest in the heart.  The heart motivates every action of our hands and every word of our mouths.  We are at the verge of getting our feathers ruffled (or our knickers in a knot) - how we hand the "details" makes all the difference.  The devil would like us to focus on the "details" - God points us to the one "detail" which makes or breaks us.  The one detail - the response of our heart.  


Paul presents a litany of stuff we all face at some time or another.  Don't get lost in the list of "stuff".  Get the focus on the root of the passage.  People are watching us as we stay our post, alertly and unswervingly.  We are being validated by our action, and often by our inactivity.  When something is validated, it is proven real.  We think we have to line up all the pieces (the details) - God says it only takes one piece to make or break us.  


Just some food for thought today.  Detail or details?  How are you focused today?  It will make a difference in the outcome!