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Wednesday, March 26, 2014

You riding a bicycle or tricycle?

Ruined lives surround us no matter where we live.  People start out well, but somehow through a series of misadventures and wrong turns, their lives end up in a state of shambles, almost like falling down shacks.  Along the way, they may have heard advice to not take a certain path, or to turn away from what they were pursuing with such earnest.  In ignoring the warnings, they compounded their misfortune and increased their speed of decline.  Now, at the bottom of the pit, they live with nothing more than regrets and the constant wondering of the "what if".  The worrisome part of their decline into the pit is the possibility of them having blamed God for the decline - for putting them in the pit.  In reality, it was their failure to heed warnings, to turn away from their self-directed pursuits.  Why is it we blame God when things end in ruins?  He isn't a God of "ruin", but of "hope", "possibilities", and even "impossibilities".  

People ruin their lives by their own stupidity, so why does God always get blamed?  (Proverbs 19:3 MSG)

Scripture is quite plain, no matter which interpretation or version you consult - people ruin their lives by their own decisions, actions, and self-directed paths. On the other hand, people do not really "improve" their lives - at best, we can do a little self-help regimen which might create a different set of circumstances for ourselves for a while, but true life change only is accomplished by the indwelling of God's Spirit in our lives.  Try as we might, we cannot change ourselves.  Scripture calls following our own path "foolishness" or "folly".  It ends in disaster, defeat, and decline - in other words, the bottom of the pit!  What seems good at the moment results in a "pay-out" much worse than we counted on.

Self-directed lives have a natural "flaw" - they are directed by emotion and reason (two quite unreliable sources of direction for our lives).  Yesterday, we spoke about the importance of man's three parts - body, soul, and spirit.  As we explored those three aspects of our being, we discovered man needs the spirit to bring balance to the things "sensed" in the body and "experienced" in the emotions, rational intelligence, etc.  Relying upon one or the other exclusively (body or soul) is definitely leaving us at risk.  If man relies upon how he interprets life simply by what he "senses" with his body - sight, smell, touch, hearing, etc. - he will lack the help of the intellect and emotion to "interpret" what he is sensing.  On the other hand, if he relies solely upon emotions to give him insight into right choices, he may miss the importance of how emotions are affected by our senses.  Body and soul walk side-by-side - but they still need a "third wheel" to give them balance much in the same way we need a third wheel on a tricycle!

A bicycle is like relying upon the body and soul - we can go places, but we may lack the stability of balance.  Adding the third wheel to the bicycle makes it a tricycle. If you learned to ride one of these, you know you didn't have to work hard to keep yourself upright - the third wheel assisted us in balancing without much effort on our part.  In the same manner, the spirit is the place of balance in our lives - the place of connection with God.  I realize this is an over-simplified illustration, but when we begin to recognize how the Spirit of God influences our spirit and brings us to a place of "reliable balance" in our decisions, we become less reliant upon our own abilities to remain upright and moving forward (like we have to when riding a two-wheel bicycle).  The "third wheel" is not added to the back, but to the front.  Think of the body and soul as being those two back wheels on the tricycle - the spirit is the front wheel. As the wheel out front, when it is connected with God's Spirit, it is free to help direct our path, steering us around obstacles, and keeping us from ending up in the pit!

We may not always make the best decisions in life, but it is good to know that we have been given every resource to change those decisions and to see new outcomes.  As we connect with God's Spirit, our spirit is energized, made alive, and we can begin to see the influence of his "balance" in our daily decisions.  We may curse the place where our body and soul allowed us to end up, but we cannot accept that God put us there.  No pit is so deep he cannot rescue us from it - no despair so dark he cannot bring light into those dark spaces.  How?  Connection with his Spirit in our spirit.  Just sayin!