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Saturday, November 3, 2012

How is not as important as What

Have you ever stumbled over your own feet?  You know...just walking along without any cares in the world, and WHAM...you find yourself tripping on some imaginary crack in the sidewalk that just jumped up and gotcha!  Sometimes we look around to see if anyone saw us, right?  If there were no "observers" of our stumbling, we let out a huge, "Whew" and move on, don't we?  If someone actually caught us in the act, we try to find the crack in some elaborate display of "justifying" behavior, don't we?  We are pretty much unwilling to just admit it was our OWN trip up!  Silly us!  Why on earth do we struggle so much with admitting our own failures?  At other times, we just cannot see what God is doing in our lives, and in the process, we find ourselves "stumbling" all over the place.  We just cannot get it together - or so it would appear.  What is the big deal?  Do we ALWAYS have to see what God is doing in order to take the next step of faith?  Most of us would answer "yes" if we were totally honest.  We actually want to KNOW what God is doing, when he plans on doing it, and who will be involved in the process - don't we?  

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 MSG)

God does not delight in keeping his kids in the dark.  There are times when we just don't see what he is doing though.  What I mean here is we don't "perceive" with clarity what he is doing, so we waffle a little in our conviction or in our faith to stand in the midst of the uncertainty.  Some of God's activity in our lives is quite visible - just like when God created the heavens and the earth.  From void, he made a thing of beauty.  Anyone beholding the boulders on the mountainside, the fish in the sea, or the tall cedars of the forest can see the majesty of his creation and marvel in it all.  Now, understanding just "how" he did it all is still a mystery to us, isn't it?  We don't "perceive" the HOW as much as we perceive the WHAT.  We see evidence of the WHAT, not so much the HOW.

Sometimes knowing God's "how" is not within our reach.  We just don't connect the dots behind the scenes because we have a "finite" ability to perceive.  In other words, we are not omniscient (all-knowing).  So, with this little bit of information in hand, why is it we still struggle so much with not trusting God when we don't understand the "how"?  Maybe it is because we try too hard to figure out God!  Trust me - I do it, so I don't think I am alone in this deal!  God is not "figurable" (not sure that is a word, but it is now).  

Isaiah was a prophet of old.  He penned these words, "My plans aren’t your plans, nor are your ways my ways, says the Lord.  Just as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways, and my plans than your plans." (Isaiah 55:8-9 CEB)  We often struggle with what we understand the least.  God's ways are often in this category.  God's plans are open to the man or woman who seeks him with all their heart, but understanding the "how" may still elude us.  God may reveal the WHO and even the WHEN, but the "how" may just not come.  I don't know "how" kids are brought out of their rebellion and come to a place of restored relationship with their parents, but I do know WHO does the work!  I don't know "how" the kids will return, but I do know it will be in God's perfect timing!  

A song I love is by Brandon Heath is "Now More Than Ever".  One of the lines in the song is, "I will keep my eyes open."  It goes on to say, "The more I see, the more I want."  I think Brandon may have had something there.  In "keeping my eyes open" I am in a place of seeing.  When I see what God is doing, I am more inclined to get with the plan!  How do we keep our eyes open?  I think it comes first in being willing to humble ourselves before God.  To admit to our weaknesses (those cracks which trip us up) opens us to enabling.  To cry out in our misery (those times when we fail) brings us into the wide open spaces of God's grace.  

The important thing for me to "see" is the "how" which only I can control.  The "how" I can control is the "how" of my actions and attitude.  To the best of my abilities, I can humble myself and reject untruth.  I can work on eliminating distractions which place me in the position of being "tripped up" in life.  These are the actions God expects of each of us.  The rest of the "how" in figuring out life's events will be secure in his hands if we take the first steps to order what it is we can control.  Then, he is free to move in us and through us to do his will.  

Attending to what God reveals is the result of seeing.  What I behold often enough, I become like.  Modeled behavior becomes repeated behavior - to coin Pastor Ridout from Sun Valley Community Church.  What I see modeled in scripture can become the behavior I embrace - it is good, but it is not enough.  I need to see this behavior embodied in others - in seeing what another person's life becomes when the scripture is embraced in their lives, it makes it twice as easy to repeat the behavior in my own life, doesn't it?  God gives us examples in the person right beside us because he knows we connect best to what we see.  Seeing is powerful - we may not know all the ins/outs of what it is we are seeing, but in seeing an intense desire is created!  

I don't know "how" God changes my heart, but I know he does.  All I do is take the steps of obedience he asks.  In turn, things get a little more ordered, a little more put together, until one day, my heart is changed.  I think this is maybe the "how" of God's work in our lives.  It is incremental, well-ordered, and grace-infused.  Just sayin!