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Tuesday, January 7, 2014

Divergence

If you have ever tried to walk a straight line, you may just know how difficult this can be without total concentration, immensely good balance, and absolutely nothing pulling or pushing against you.  The slightest distraction can captivate your attention just enough to get you to stumble.  The most insignificant thing like a hiccup could cause you to lose concentration and your course changes ever so slightly.  Even a stray gust of wind can catch you off guard and give you a little challenge to stay the course!  None of these things even remotely come close to the things which might actually "impair" our walk, but each presents a definite opportunity to present us with a little moment of imbalance.  To walk straight, the focus must be on maintaining balance.  To maintain balance, one must know what it is which "impairs" balance.  

Train me, God, to walk straight; then I’ll follow your true path.  Put me together, one heart and mind; then, undivided, I’ll worship in joyful fear. From the bottom of my heart I thank you, dear Lord; I’ve never kept secret what you’re up to.  You’ve always been great toward me—what love!  (Psalm 86:11-14 MSG)

In life, we are faced with things, people, and events which work to "counter" our balance.  The "countering" objects, people, or events actually provide the opportunities for our "calm" to be disturbed - something we need to maintain focus.  If you have been on a boat on calm waters, then noticed the winds begin to kick up a little, you know the choppiness those winds bring to the water.  In just a short amount of time, the concentration it takes to traverse the waters and to remain upright just magnified beyond measure.  Why?  Your "calm" was disturbed!  Life throws stuff at us which has the potential of disturbing our calm - either in our underlying behavior, our actual performance, or our more or less unseen judgment. 

Notice that I underlined the word "potential" - for these objects, people and events have no real pull of their own - they just exert the capability of getting us off balance.  To actually get off balance, we have to move just enough toward their influence to be affected by it!  The wind is blowing outside right now, but I am not affected by it.  Why?  I haven't moved into its path!  I am still on the inside merely looking out.  I am not affected because I have not changed position.  The potential exists for the wind to affect me, but as long as the panes of glass separate me from the wind, I am not made off balance by its presence.  God often uses things like his Word and the influence of the Holy Spirit in our lives (that still small voice directing us) as "buffers" to separate us from those things which want to influence the balance in our lives much in the same way the panes of glass "buffer" the wind.

It is as we are trained to walk straight that we discover the influences which "counter" those which seek to afford a little imbalance in our lives.  It is as God "puts us together" - one heart and one mind - that we discover the peace and purpose of his balance.  What gives us the greatest struggles in life are not the influencing things, people, or events - it is the fact our mind and heart are divided!  We don't have "internal" balance, so maintaining any balance externally is quite difficult until we do.  What do heart and mind actually have to do with balance?  Simply put:  As a man thinks, so he acts.  Heart is the influence of emotion and will.  Mind is the place of decision and memory. Faulty or wrong memories actually affect our judgment in future decisions. Any type of imbalance emotionally will also "pull against" all sense of reason - no matter how much reason may be trying to influence us to act or think a different way. 

We need balance in our minds and hearts FIRST if we are to find any balance in the rest of our lives.  So many times we attempt to find balance "external" to ourselves, but this is backwards.  Balance begins "internally" first, then it begins to affect the external.  When we allow God to align our hearts and minds, we are actually setting ourselves up to begin to see the potential of imbalance by those things external to us which play against us to create an influence which will affect our "calm".  Notice, I said an "influence" designed to affect our calm.  The influence of these things, events, and people is not something we have an inability to resist the effect of in our lives.  In fact, we are given the training to resist their influence - but only as we maintain the right focus on their influence.  Just as I recognize the potential influence of the wind, I know the ability of the glass to help me maintain the right perspective on the wind's influence.  God gives us his Word and the Holy Spirit to help us maintain the right perspective on the influence of those things attempting to pull us off balance today.

Heart and mind are often divergent - choosing a path quite their own.  Do you know what divergence really is?  It is any point of "flux" - a point of imbalance.  God's remedy to us experiencing continual "flux" in our lives is to train us in the realm of balance.  In other words, he begins to reveal to us what creates "variation" in our lives and then he asks us to begin to eliminate the variation.  Variation is what leads to imbalance.  Variation is what disturbs our calm.  Variation is what has the potential of pulling us off course. When God wants to train our hearts and minds, so they might be undivided and work in symbiotic unity, he focuses first on removing the things which afford opportunities for divergence in our walk.  If you find God asking you to reduce the variables - or he is doing the reducing for you - don't resist this. He is merely seeking to bring mind and heart together.  Just sayin!