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Tuesday, April 2, 2013

Envy this!

I have caught a couple of shows recently where the point of the show is to showcase the tremendously awesome pools people build in their backyards or the tricked out recreational vehicles they take on their vacations.  The pools feature water slides, natural water features such as waterfalls, and even some "lazy rivers" for just drifting along on a raft or inner tube.  The RVs have granit counter tops, full-sized showers, and more flat screen TVs than you can shake a stick at!  These shows have appeal because of the "envy-factor" they create.  Isn't it part of human nature to hope to live the life everyone else looks at and says, "Wow!  I wish I lived like that?"  I have to admit, I am amazed at the neat things which are created - until I hear the price!  Some of these folks spend over a million dollars just for a backyard pool!  Now, don't get me wrong, but is this really something we want to be defined by?

Blessed (happy, fortunate, prosperous, and enviable) is the man who walks and lives not in the counsel of the ungodly [following their advice, their plans and purposes], nor stands [submissive and inactive] in the path where sinners walk, nor sits down [to relax and rest] where the scornful [and the mockers] gather.  But his delight and desire are in the law of the Lord, and on His law (the precepts, the instructions, the teachings of God) he habitually meditates (ponders and studies) by day and by night.  (Psalm 1:1-2 AMP)

Our psalmist opens the entire Book of Psalms with these two verses - the real thing which makes a man "enviable" is the thing which is on the inside - not in the backyard or the garage!  I remember some of the most amazing times of my life when I was a kid in a camper on the back of my Dad's pickup!  We had a small cook stove, a tank of water, a table which doubled as a bed for me, and a porta-potty which required emptying each day!  Nothing "luxurious" about it!  Yet, it took us to places where tide-pools gathered creatures from the sea, providing hours of exploration and many good times.  It traversed the mountain tops, taking us to the gentle flowing rivers teaming with fish caught in human hands by forming human dams.  Probably no one would have "envied" our simple "home away from home" these days, but I can look back at the memories formed in those simple trips and it brings both a smile to my face and a warmth to my soul.

Our psalmist points out a couple of things to be "envied" in a believer's life:

* He knows which counsel is worth listening to.  The counsel of the ungodly may "seem" good for now, but it won't stand the tests of time.  I wonder just how many of these folks who buy these tricked out RVs or gargantuan pools find themselves face-to-face with the monthly payments somewhere down the road and wonder why they signed on the bottom line?  The appeal of the counsel of the ungodly comes in the "upfront" promises which are not backed with the "security" of divine provision and power.  David reminds us of the fortunate place we stand in when we don't embrace the advice which "seems good", but test it a little to see if it is really backed by something more than man's ego!

* He understands the importance of seeking rest in the right places.  I have tried sleeping on airplanes, but I rarely gather more than a few catnaps which leave me feeling more tired than I was before I dozed.  It isn't because I don't trust the pilot or am afraid to miss out on the pretzels passed during snack time.  I just don't rest well in a sitting position, surrounded by people I don't know, unable to extend my legs!  It is not conducive to rest!  To be able to rest, I need to be in the right place - such as in the comfort of a reclining chair, fully extended, listening to the breezes gently blowing through the trees.  The difference between the two is in the degree of rest I will receive in my "resting".  Where I choose to find my rest is as important as taking time to rest!  

* He appreciates the dangers of inactivity.  Most are amazed at how my mind works - it is almost continual.  As my mind is working, I am able to process a whole lot of stuff.  I do crosswords in my down-time, as well as play computer games which challenge me to think ahead.  I like the games where I have to build an entire town, not knowing which challenges will be put before me like tornado, hurricane, or earthquake.  The better my preparation for these challenges, the better my city fairs in the time of the storm.  The time of "inactivity" in the game is not really a time for nothing to happen - it is a time of preparation.  Inactivity actually is a dangerous place to find ourselves because it is a place of submission - we submit to whatever captures our attention in the moment.  I regularly take in the Word of God each morning because it is my focal-point for the day.  It starts the activity in my life.  There are times when we need "down-time", when the activity ceases and we "re-center", so to speak.  Yet, it is never a time of just opening up to whatever comes our way - it is planned, prepared time!

* He forms good habits.  We teach our kids to brush their teeth so they won't get cavities, will always have teeth to chew their food with, and so their smile can warm the hearts of those around them.  We train employees how to apply various safety practices in the work environment through fire drills, safety fairs, and lessons in applying personal protective equipment such as back braces and hard hats.  We emphasize the importance of washing our hands before we eat because we know the many germs which have been acquired in all we touched throughout our day.  I wonder why we struggle so much with the "habits" God asks us to develop?  If he is like a father to us, isn't he just doing what any good dad does for his children - helping us develop the habits which will keep us safe!  He gives us the precepts (rules of action or conduct) which will keep us out of harm's way - but hearing is not acting.  He wants us to develop the habit of taking them in regularly until they affect the way we act!

Just some thoughts on what makes a man or woman truly "enviable".  It isn't in the "much" we amass, it is in the "greatness" we allow to be developed by the choices we make in the moments that matter.  Just sayin!