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Reacting or Acting?

Ever fail a test?  You know, you think you have "studied" hard enough to make your brain actually leak forth the right stuff in just the right moment - then almost without recognizing the turning point, you "slip" in what you "leaked" and down you go!  Yep, been there, done that, bought the shirt, and wore it out!  The truth is, we all fail - sometimes more miserably than others, but we fail nonetheless.  It may be in some commitment we have made such as determining to eat right, or some "trigger" we just didn't want to respond to in quite the same way the next time we were faced with it.  This week was one of those weeks for me.  The "trigger" came and there came my response - not the grace-filled one I would have like to respond with, but the adrenaline kicked into full gear and there I was facing the same old stuff.  The truth be told - I didn't go as far in my negative response to the trigger - for I held back the words I would have liked to have said at that moment, but I faced the "triggering point" with a response I immediately regretted.  It was a test - and I studied well - but all the studying in the world didn't help me "pass the test"!

I can see now, God, that your decisions are right; your testing has taught me what’s true and right.  Oh, love me—and right now!—hold me tight, just the way you promised.  Now comfort me so I can live, really live; your revelation is the tune I dance to.  (Psalm 119:75-77 MSG)

At that moment in time, I chose to dance to my own tune.  In retrospect, I can see this clearly now.  The triggering point was the beginning of the test.  The apology I extended afterward was the recognition I did not allow the studying to be converted into actual "learning".  So, now you have heard my true confessions - but I don't think I am sailing these seas alone!  We often face "triggers" we think we have under control only to find at the right moment, the very thing we thought we "learned" in our studies was not "fully learned" yet.

David says something in this portion of scripture which caught my eye this morning.  Maybe it was because my heart was a little sensitized by the failure of the test - or maybe it was just God's timing of the test!  This particular passage is "sandwiched" between two very important ideas - the first being the idea of waiting in expectation for God's wisdom to be "delivered" in the moment of our testing and the commitment to keep our minds "fixed" on God's counsel especially in the midst of the test.  To this, David adds:  "And let me live whole and holy, soul and body, so I can always walk with my head held high."  (vs. 80)  

Triggers are anything which serve as stimuli or initiators of a REACTION or series of REACTIONS.  Notice, I did not say a trigger was a stimulator of an action - it is a stimulator of a REACTION.  Most of the time, the triggers we face in life cause a reaction - they may follow-through with actions, but it is the reaction which really ignites the beginning of any action!  As a kid, we did the experiment of adding vinegar to backing soda into a bottle, observing that the reaction produced a powerful "propellant" which caused the bottle to almost act as a rocket.  The bottle was never created to be a rocket, but the combining of the substances in the bottle caused the rocket to act in a way it was never designed to act!  

The reaction of the combined substances became the stimulus which changed the intended purpose of the bottle into the "undesigned purposed"!  Does this speak anything to you about your tendency to REACT to the combining of substances (the wrong word at the wrong time in the wrong place, for example)?  You were designed by God to ACT one way, but the REACTION of the combined substances resulted in a totally contrary action!  Maybe this is why David asked God to help him learn this process of "waiting in expectation" for God's wisdom.  It would only take the substitution of one ingredient to change the combined substances!  Substitute water for the vinegar and you don't get the explosive potential of the acid and base mixture!  

Now, think about this - when you mix two acidic items together, do you get anything good?  Not really!  Try mixing bleach and vinegar together and you inadvertently end up making chlorine gas!  Not only are you affected by the mixture, but you inadvertently can affect others, too!  There are some "triggers" which end up only affecting you, but more often than not, the triggers we face end up affecting others around us!  

So, having said all that, here's what I want you to see.  The REACTION is only changed when the "substance" I offer into the mixture is exactly the opposite of what will result in the REACTION!  Yep, the test is passed when I recognize (with God's help - that is the waiting on him part) the exact "opposite" of what I am faced with in the test as what needs to be "added" to the mixture! Whatever triggers will then be rendered harmless - the stimulus will have no effect - like launching forth a dud missile!   The missile had potential beyond its knowing, but without the reaction of the "electrical impulse" which acts as the detonator, the missile is a dud!  Just sayin!

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