Monday, January 13, 2014

Learning to climb a ladder?

God's business vs. our business - have you ever stopped to just think that one through?  Some stuff is just not ours to handle, while other stuff is clearly within our ability and common sense to handle.  For example, which laundry detergent to purchase is a matter of our own ability and a little common sense.  If you want clean clothes, you might choose this brand over another because it is better at removing the stains without pre-treating.  If you want this wonderful fresh smell to them, you might choose one high in fragrance added.  These are common sense decisions based on what we are capable of determining ourselves.  On the other hand, decisions such as the person we should marry may not fall into the "common sense" and "personal ability" category!  If you want to argue that one through for a while, I am all ears, but the divorce statistics worldwide would indicate we do a pretty lousy job at this one in "our own ability".  We need divine wisdom to really look beyond the surface of the stuff we focus on when dating - simply because of the old adage of "love being blind".  We have a tough time relying on getting things right on the basis of our own ability or the use of our common sense.  It is good to know God's business begins and ends with putting things right!  

God's business is putting things right; he loves getting the lines straight, setting us straight. Once we’re standing tall, we can look him straight in the eye.  (Psalm 11:7 MSG)

On our own, we do a less than a stellar job of "standing tall".  In fact, the weight of our sin and disobedience just manages to bend us over, doesn't it? It is as though we cannot seem to "rise above" the things which give us the heartache and trouble in life - not because God doesn't want us to break free from their burden, but because we still keep trying to handle or deal with them according to our own ability or common sense.  Truth be told - we do a miserable job of using the wisdom God gives and then relying upon him to do the rest!  Reliance is something upon which we place all our confidence - in hopes it will yield the results we imagine possible.  I get up on a step ladder, relying upon it to not only hold my weight, but to be steady, allowing me to reach parts of my home I cannot reach on my own, and to give me a perspective I don't possess from "down below".  To attempt the repairs without the step ladder would be almost comical and would produce far less "permanent" fixes.  In fact, they'd probably look pretty shabby.  When I use the step ladder appropriately, I am able to get the job done right.  If we rely upon God's ability to hold the weight of our sin, give us steadiness in our stand, and to elevate us to heights which give us a fresh perspective, we might just get better results!

The first time I was ever up on a step ladder was when I was a small child. Dad would be working on something and I tried to ski-daddle up that ladder, just like he had done. My legs were shorter than Dad's, so the first time I tried to climb the ladder, I struggled a little to make the "reach" between the first and second rungs.  It was less than quick - in fact, I didn't finish the process because it wore me out!  In life, there are times when the "rungs" seem to be placed a little far apart and it almost tires us out trying to make the "climb".  Getting a new perspective takes quite a bit of work - doesn't it? In fact, we sometimes find we just give up because the work of scaling those "rungs" seems like it will do us in.  We are relying upon human effort to get us up that ladder, friends!  When Dad came down that ladder and then put me on the ladder in front of him, lifting me ever so slightly between each rung so that I could get to the top, what a difference it made!  I didn't have to strain to reach the next "rung" because Dad was doing the work!  This is the difference between God setting things right in our lives and us trying to do it all on our own!

I think this is the difference between using our common sense and allowing God to set us right in life - we get the change in perspective without having to do it by our own work!  When you rely upon God, you are placing your trust in someone who is unchanging and totally trustworthy.  When you rely upon your own experience, intelligence, or ability, you are relying upon something (or someone) which is a little "flawed" and "influenced" by the situations you have experienced, learned about, etc.  The first time I realized I wanted to climb the ladder to get up to the place my Dad was, I didn't realize the work it would take - why?  Dad made it look so easy.  The thing I didn't realize was how many times he had already traversed that same ladder and how proficient he had become using the ladder to reach places he had need of reaching.  God provides a means by which we reach "places" in our lives we have "need of reaching", but we have to use the "tools" he gives us and the "ability" he provides to learn how to use them appropriately.  

Dad didn't want me to fall off the ladder, so when he allowed me my first "climb", he was behind me all the way.  This continued many times until he saw I had "mastered" the skill. Then he could trust me to climb without him behind me - in fact, he changed places and was ahead of me on the ladder, often preparing something up ahead for what we'd be doing together when I got up there!  God is much the same way, behind us until we get the hang of the climb, then ahead of us preparing things up ahead so we can engage in the work he has planned TOGETHER.  We don't climb alone and we don't work alone!  We do it TOGETHER.  God's business is setting things right - getting things in order.  Then he helps us to work out that "order" in our lives alongside us all the way!  Just sayin!

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