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Tuesday, November 25, 2014

Don't be afraid of the muddle

So many times we want total deliverance from what we are going through, all the while forgetting we grow in the midst of the trial, not by a rescue from it.  We often want the easy way out, not the way which means we have to get real, go deep, and struggle a bit to get past our resistance.  No good athlete will ever tell you they arrived at their current stage in life by sitting on the sidelines.  In fact, they will tell you "practice makes perfect" and the place of "practice" is in the middle of the field, running on the track, or fighting in the ring.  It is smack dab in the middle of the muddle where we learn what we are made of.  Maybe this is one reason we don't just say "yes" to Jesus, then magically find ourselves transported off to some nether region to live on a cloud for all of eternity.  God wants us in the midst of the muddle because the muddle needs us as much as we need them!

Father, I don’t ask you to take my followers out of the world, but keep them safe from the evil one. They don’t belong to this world, and neither do I. Your word is the truth. So let this truth make them completely yours. I am sending them into the world, just as you sent me. I have given myself completely for their sake, so that they may belong completely to the truth. (John 17:15-19 CEV)

There are times we forget we all had our beginning in the midst of this muddle we call the world.  None of us were born on a cloud, dropped on this earth by aliens, or appeared in a "poof" from some magician's wand.  We all originate from the same source - other humans! That being said, we dwell among this same group of humans, more or less, all our lives on this earth.  In time, we may put a little distance between ourselves and those we grew up among, but we still exist among other humans.  That can only mean one thing - we are in the midst of a whole bunch of muddlers!  No one has this thing called "life" all figured out - no one has "mastered" the universe, so to speak.  We all muddle through at one level or another, until at last we breathe our last.  Some "muddle" better than others, but we ALL muddle!

Jesus gave his disciples (his followers) some insight into how it is we "make it through the muddle" of our everyday lives.  They might have hoped for a more ethereal solution to their muddling - like being transported into the heavenlies so they no longer had to deal with this meddle on the earth - but the plan was for them to make an impact through their lives in the midst of the muddle.  Jesus didn't ask for them to be removed, but to remain.  Wherever we find ourselves is where God has a desire for us to make an impact - not to get caught up again in the midst of the muddle, but to impact those lives around us.  How we deal with the muddle AFTER we say "yes" to Jesus is different than how we were dealing with it before we did, though.  Jesus tells us we no longer belong to this world - we aren't sin-filled muddlers, but we are in the midst of the muddle.  In the midst of it, we are now light and life to those muddling through without Jesus.

How we get our own lives through the muddle of life is something we need to figure out first, then we take these same truths to those in the muddle around us. Jesus said it is by the Word dwelling within us.  We are kept safe by the Word of truth which resides in us, making us completely and totally whole wherever we need the healing it brings.  In turn, that living word within becomes the light which touches those who continue to muddle in this world. This is why we are to take in the word and to allow it to impact our lives.  Do you know what a muddler is?  It is someone caught in the midst of confusion, living life in a jumbled and mixed up way.  No wonder Jesus prays to his Father, asking he keep us safe through the Word which indwells us.  The Living Word indwells us - Christ himself.  As he indwells, the confusion (muddle of mind) begins to settle.  Nothing brings peace quite in the same way as when the Word of God settles the mind and soul.  Anguish begins to melt away and confused thought begins to sort itself out.  This is truly the power of the Living Word within.

A muddle is also something which has been mixed or stirred - making those of us within the muddle no longer individual parts, but part of the whole.  Nothing will allow for the blending of parts quite in the same way as the Word of God does.  Where the Word is revered, mixed up lives begin to be transformed into something quite different than the original.  Just as flour, eggs, oil, and sugar are mixed into a bowl to form a batter, the transformation of each of us is accomplished, not by the subtle stirring, but by the "aggressive mixing"!  We want the subtle stirring - God knows the parts don't blend together as well with a subtle stirring!  He brings us into unity often in some of the most traumatic ways!  Don't believe me?  Think of the last devastating hurricane, earthquake, tsunami, raging wildfire.  What happens in the midst of this type of muddle?  Don't people come together to make it through?  Yep, they do.  Why?  In the midst of the muddle, the pieces alone don't matter anymore - the pieces together are what matters!

We can argue we don't belong in this world, but I will dare to counter that argument with the truth that we were assigned a role in the midst of this muddle.  We are to help those muddling through to do come into the place of peace, security, and trust.  How?  We share the Word of God - truth brings light, light brings hope, and hope is the birthplace for faith! Just sayin!