Saturday, July 28, 2012

All the bells & whistles, please!

Have you ever bought a new car from the car dealership?  If you have, you can probably associate with the anxiety of having to make all those choices!  First, you have to have an idea of the basic type of vehicle you need.  Car or truck, SUV or van, two doors or four, etc.  Then you head to this "section" on the lot.  The inventory is sometimes daunting!   They are all lined up in colors galore - bright and shiny.  You navigate in and out of each row, looking at each one, picturing yourself behind the wheel.  Then comes something I will call the "sticker effect".  You find the one you really like - upgraded wheels, window tinting, leather interior - you know the one I mean. see the "sticker" and almost feel the blood running from your head and the dollars emptying from your bank account!  What happened to your desire at that moment?  It was probably "diverted" to settle for a vehicle with a few less bells and whistles!

Ears that hear and eyes that see—we get our basic equipment from God! (Proverbs 20:12 The Message)  

As I was re-reading this Proverb today, I came across this verse and it made me chuckle a little.  I think we might do a little "lot walking" with God at times - dreaming big, having eyes that like the shiny stuff, until we see the "sticker"!  We want all the bells and whistles he can provide, but then we see the sticker and we get the sticker effect!  Oh, don't get me wrong - we don't "pay" for our salvation with anything we can do ourselves, but as we grow with Christ, the "bells and whistles" of an obedient life begin to become more evident in our lives.  Sometimes we want all these "bells and whistles" without the cost of obedience!

We want the anointing - but are we willing to be disciplined in our study of the word and time in listening to his voice guide us?  We want the depth of knowledge evident in the lives of those we hold before us as examples - but are we making the investment into sitting at their feet to learn from their examples?  I wonder just how often we see the "sticker" and reconsider our desires?

Our scripture today is quite clear - we get our basic equipment from God.  What we choose to do with it is quite a different matter!  Ears to hear are considered basic equipment - yet do we use them to really listen to his voice? Eyes to see are also basic - what we use them to behold the most frequently often determines what influences our lives the most.  So, learning to use our "basic equipment" is of as much importance as learning to use all the "bells and whistles" which come with time.

I have a fairly nice vehicle - but have I learned to master all the bells and whistles on it?  To be honest, no!  I have a basic knowledge of some of them, but could I say I have a mastery of any of them?  Nope!  Why?  Well, I read the parts of the owner's manual which were of interest to me first - things like the hands-free dialing feature on the bluetooth system.  I even managed to program a few numbers into the system so I could push a button and call home in one quick move without taking my eyes off the road.  But...when you look at the display, the number comes up, but it is devoid of a name!  In fact, every number says, "No Name"!

What happened to my desire to own the model with the bells and whistles?  I don't use them to their fullest potential if I don't learn how they function.  The same is true in my spiritual life.  If I never learn how to do more than the "basics" with my spiritual life - a little prayer here and there, an occasional look into the scripture, making it to church weekly - I will never understand how to use the "bells and whistles" given so freely to me when I first came to Christ.

Here's where I am going with this:

- If we are to grow, we have to eat right, and yes, even exercise frequently.  We are given two legs and two arms - both of each are to be used to their fullest advantage.  If we don't use the basic equipment we are given, all the bells and whistles never will amount to much!  In terms of our Christian walk, we grow when we allow ourselves to be fed from the word and we learn to be strong when our spiritual muscles are stretched a little.  When we allow God to work on the basics, we grow!

- When growth is well underway, we often discover all the spiritual "bells and whistles" we have been given.  We notice them more and have a desire to actually see them put to full use in our lives.  Things like the gifts of compassion and mercy.  As we begin to use these gifts, we become more proficient in their use.  We may start out a little on the "basic" side of things, but eventually we will master it!  For a while, we may only be able to make sense of things through our limited focus, but eventually we will begin to see clearly how God intends for these "bells and whistles" to be used in our relationships with others.

Just some thoughts on our basic equipment.  We have to learn to do the basics before we will ever be able to appreciate and utilize all the bells and whistles we have been given!  But...once we begin to see how these bells and whistles operate - we would do well not to stop at a basic use of them!  We need to become masters in their use!

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