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Tuesday, March 31, 2015

Signs of life

Advice:  Something offered as a guide for action or conduct; an official notification.  There are times when I have received advice which has really benefited me in a positive manner.  I think of a previous leader I served with who guided me into investing my retirement funds in a way which was not only diversified, but helped me grow my funds a little quicker since I had some catching up to do.  This was advice which actually assisted me in a very positive manner.  I have also followed some not so great advice, purchasing some things I wish I had not simply because it was the latest trend and someone "swore" it would make all the difference to own it!  Now, let me just assure you, there are some things which have benefited my life, while there are others which were just pure flops.  Everyone talked about the battery driven can opener you place on the top of the can and turn on - but did anyone consider how long the batteries would last and how frequently it would run down?  I don't think so!  I have two of these devices since mom had one when she moved in with me. Guess what I use to open cans...a good old-fashioned crank can opener!  I got on the bandwagon with everyone else and asked for one of those really expensive coffee brewers which makes only one cup at a time - you know which one I mean.  Then I realized the cost of coffee packaged this way and had to find a suitable "refillable" device to house my own coffee grinds to keep the cost of coffee down to a manageable sum!  Now that it has given up the ghost, I am not looking to replace it with another of this type - I am going back to my simple four-cup brewer.  It might not be as "trendy", but it certainly gets the job done in a pretty efficient manner!   Sometimes we don't always heed the "best" advice, but hop quickly to embrace advice which is more or less "trendy". We can see it is not always the best advice!

We are rewarded or punished for what we say and do. Fools think they know what is best, but a sensible person listens to advice. (Proverbs 12:14-15 CEV)

We are rewarded or punished for what we say and do - if we heed bad advice, what is our reward?  I don't think of it as punishment, but as the consequences of not taking time to really consider our steps.  Reward is not always positive! It can carry a little bit of a consequence to it, making it more like a punishment than a reward.  Yesterday I pulled up my first carrot from the garden.  It was about 3 inches long.  I washed it complete with the carrot leaves still on it and presented it to mom.  She said it was sweet and quite excellent in taste.  It took a pretty long while for them to go from carrot tops to something growing beneath the surface!  I have been plucking up a little carrot green about once a month for a couple of months to keep tabs on how they are growing.  I didn't expect anything quite as lovely when I plucked this one, but was rewarded with a nice wee carrot!  Sometimes our actions are just like that - we look for growth but don't always see it.  We don't pluck up all the promising signs of growth to discover this - we just pluck one single carrot!  In our lives, we may not see immediate reward for each and every promising sign of growth in our lives, but we can "track" the growth if we consider where we are over the course of time. We might not be fully developed in a particular area, but if we continue to cultivate and nourish that area of our life, we will eventually be rewarded with the growth beneath the surface.

A sensible person listens to advice - this is having the keen awareness and judgment which actually keeps us from making totally wrong decisions all the time. It doesn't mean we "never" operate in the realm of silliness and take an occasional unwise step, but it refers to more of the idea of leaving some things alone once we get any idea they are not really the right thing for us to be pursuing.  Advice may come in the form of a warning - if heeded, we can turn away before we launch fully into something.  It may come in the form of plain old common sense - like when I didn't pluck up all the carrot tops when I didn't see growth under the first one!  I know it takes time for these things to mature. Now imagine what life would be like if we examined our own lives in this way. We look to see what is beneath the surface, but if we don't see growth immediately and then just start all over again we might be labeled as being a little "flighty".  Last year I planted some sweet potato vine and elephant ear vine in the same bed.  We had a really bad frost which took rather hearty growth and destroyed it overnight.  I left it there, though, knowing when the frosts passed, I would re-cultivate the bed and try again.  As I pulled back those dead vines, I discovered some small sweet potatoes beneath the surface!  Who knew those were there?  Not me!  So, I left them there and have waited to see what would happen.  I am pleased to say there is life emerging! 

What we might think we need is continual "advice" on how to live or make the decisions we have to make.  What we fail to recognize is the wisdom and sense God has built into our lives to know "growth" comes where we see any and all potential for growth!  Those carrot tops promise carrots beneath the surface. The wee sweet potatoes promise the evidence of another round of vining plants this season.  That spark of hope promises a developing sense of peace and freedom in your life where only darkness and frustration has been evident before.  We might not always receive "advice" - sometimes we just need to lay hold of the truth we already possess and act upon it.  That can be the difference between the fool and the wise!  Just sayin!