Saturday, July 21, 2012

What quarry are you dug from?

There is a pretty familiar question which we hear many times a week, if not everyday:  "Are you serious?"  Whenever someone poses this question, they may not really be seeking the truth about your level of trustworthiness or your desire to commit to something.  In fact, they might just be saying this to exclaim some message of surprise - like they could not possibly imagine what we just did or said as even remotely possible!  There is another saying:  "Let's get serious now."  This one is often spoken as a word or two of admonishment  designed to get us focused (refocused) on what is at hand.  

Listen to me, all you who are serious about right living and committed to seeking God.  Ponder the rock from which you were cut, the quarry from which you were dug.  (Isaiah 51:1 The Message)

When you are serious about something, there is a process which occurs.  First, there is conscious thought - you focus your capacity for understanding and processing on the subject or task at hand.  Second, you have determined the subject or task to be weighty enough to require your attention and time.  In turn, you make a determination to undertake it with earnestness.

Isaiah is speaking to Israel in his words of prophecy, but there are always tidbits of truth for us in each message.  Today, I'd like us to take a moment to think about the things we take seriously in life.  Could you indulge me for a moment?  If you have paper and pen, take a moment to make two columns.  On the left, put a title at the top "Serious About" - on the right, put a title "Not So Much".  Now, as you go throughout your day, will you take a moment here and there to write down the things you are really serious about - those things you give your capacity of thought to, which you have determined to be weighty enough to require your focused attention, and those you have some sense of earnestness in seeing completed.

I usually undertake this "exercise" on a pretty regular basis.  Why?  Simply because I have a tendency to allow things to drift into my realm of thought and attention which really are demanding too much of my attention and time! As I refocus on what it is I am serious about - I often see my list can be a little too self-focused (taking time and giving attention to what will satisfy my needs rather than the needs of those God places in my life).  Now, this may not be the case with you, but it could very well be.  If so, putting this down on paper actually helps us to recognize the things which are consuming our time and even consuming "us".  

Look at what Isaiah said:  If you are serious about RIGHT living and committed to SEEKING God....ponder.... do you see the connection between what Isaiah advises and my little exercise?  Yep, as you took time to write those things out in one or the other column, you were "pondering" what it is you are committed to - what you (or others who have influence in your life) have determined to be worthy of your thought and attention.  You can think of pondering as a kind of "chewing upon" exercise.  You kind of keep pouring over and over the list until you begin to see how each of the things listed is really affecting your relationships with God or each other, and even balance in your life.  There is much to be gained by taking time to ponder.

Isaiah was speaking to a nation of "believers" who had taken their eye off of the things which were most important.  In fact, they find themselves driven into servitude to nations around them and living under the burden of being "slaves" to another.  God's intention was for them to live free - unburdened.  How did they get to this point?  Maybe if someone had asked, "Are you serious?" a little earlier, they might not have drifted this far!  I don't know about you, but as hard as it is to hear an accountability partner ask me the tough questions, I appreciate their words!  It is often exactly what I need in order to refocus!

Some advice from our passage:

- Ponder the rock from which you were cut.  Are you familiar with the passage from I Peter 2:5 which refers to us as living stones?  When we actually take time to consider the rock from which we are cut, we are considering the things which make our "cornerstone" so reliable.  His love, grace, and forgiveness.  His truthfulness, commitment, and transparency.  In turn, we begin to emulate the "stone" from which we were taken - we begin to look and act like Christ.

- Ponder the quarry from which you were dug.  I live close enough to some of the copper mines in Arizona to know what a mine looks like.  I also have been to the quarries from which granite is taken.  Having this experience allows me to recognize some things about a quarry.  First, it is a pretty dirty place.  There is a whole lot of "turning over" of soil until you find the thing you desire most.  God has taken us from a whole lot of "dirt".  Second, once the copper is removed or the granite cut, it is a thing of beauty and function.  We are not dug from the quarry of sin to just "exist" - but to be a thing of beauty and function in the kingdom of God.

So, ponder with me today.  You might be surprised what it is you discover about yourself - and God!

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