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Sunday, March 8, 2015

Not just another wobbly step-ladder

How many times have you experienced placing trust in something you eventually came to understand you couldn't trust?  Maybe you took a step onto a wobbly step-ladder and found it crush underneath the load of your full weight, or you found yourself walking on an icy patch of water only to feel it crack beneath you.  These are visible things we can see or touch.  They should give us some warning they are not "reliable", right?  Now, imagine all the things we put our trust in which are not "visible".  These might be things like the continual beating of our heart, or the inter-related workings of the automobile engine and drive train which makes our car move when we apply the gas.  I see the my body, but I don't know all that is going on inside it.  I see the auto's engine, but I certainly don't understand all the working parts and what fires when in order to get this to happen at this point or that.  I trust the things unseen sometimes as much as I trust the things seen - even when I don't know they are in perfect working order, or are indeed "trustworthy".  Coming to a place where I place my trust in the most dependable stuff is really what brings me into a place of safety in my life.  I must choose wisely what it is (or even who it is) I will place my trust in.  The tendency to "blindly" trust is really not a very reliable way to do "business" in our lives!

With all your heart you must trust the Lord and not your own judgment. Always let him lead you, and he will clear the road for you to follow. Don’t ever think that you are wise enough, but respect the Lord and stay away from evil. This will make you healthy, and you will feel strong. (Proverbs 3:5-8 CEV)

The purpose of the proverbs was not to just give us words of wisdom we might put up on some brightly colored posters, or post with some serene picture on the internet social media feed.  They were intended to give us guidance in life, but also to point out the differences between acting/living in a wise vs. foolish manner.  One thing remains true in all of our lives - none of us has completely rid ourselves of foolishness.  No, I am not calling you a "fool" - just that you and I sometimes make some pretty foolish decisions based on things which are not fact, or which we have come to trust, but really are not fully trustworthy in our lives.  In this sense of the word, we are all "fools" at one time or another.  In the truest sense of the term, a fool is someone who is an "enthusiast who cannot resist the urge to indulge that enthusiasm".  Consider that one for just a moment and we might just see the importance of our "enthusiasm" being directed into or toward the right stuff!

Enthusiasm is good - we all could benefit from a little more of it on occasion. When I see a group of people begin to wrap their time and attention around a matter with a little bit of gusto and brain-power, I label this as enthusiasm. There is a new or heightened sense of "interest" being exhibited.  To say the least, enthusiastic individuals are marked by having their minds (and everything else that goes where our thoughts go) absorbed by some object of their attention.  Something has peaked their interest and they are pouring heart and soul into it.  Enthusiasm alone is not what gets us closer to obedience in our lives, though.  We need to ensure we are being "absorbed" by the right stuff or the pursuits will be totally amiss for us.  This is how we get off course in our lives.  Our reminder today is to place our trust in the one who's judgment we can trust, not in our own judgment about what might or might not be good for us to invest our enthusiasm in.

This is where wisdom and foolishness differ.  The focus of our heart determines the direction of our actions.  All we can see and touch bears a certain element of "evidence" we can use to determine the "value" of taking the first step toward that object.  We have already discussed how we might just take the first step regardless of what we "see" - we don't use the insight we have in order to guide our decisions.  This is where wisdom enters in - it is the use of the insight we have been given to "test" or "try" the object of our focus BEFORE we put our full weight on it.  Am I implying we "test" or "try" God's love or grace?  Well, in a way, yes.  Let me give you an illustration.  My friend had a bag of highly polished stones on her desk the other day.  When I commented about them, she removed them and let me "experience" those stones.  They were polished smooth (almost completely), bore a high luster, and were of varying shapes and sizes.  I could see all of that just by looking through the plastic bag.  It wasn't until she let me hold them, run them through my fingers and then consider the patterns created in the finely polished surface that I could begin to experience the beauty of those stones. 

God's love and grace are meant to be experienced - they have to be "examined" just like those highly polished stones.  They need to be "held up" for inspection and true appreciation.  We don't see the hidden facets of the beauty of his love or grace until we take the time to examine and truly "behold" those facets.  Just as with those stones, if we only admire them on the surface value they exhibit, we miss much of the intricacies of what we are seeing.  I trusted the stones were beautiful, but as I held them, turning them over and over in my hands, and even lifting them to the light, I saw much more of their beauty.  I appreciated their intricacies and discovered they looked like little animals, might have contained fossils, and were genuinely unique.  We don't "test" God, but we are given permission to intimately "experience" the goodness of his grace and love.  To truly put our faith in something, we have to have "tested" or "tried" it in one form or another.  We may not fully trust everything on this earth, but the things of God - these we know will hold up under our "weight"!  Just sayin!