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Thursday, October 29, 2015

It is all "relative"

Have you ever been in a place where no matter where you look or turn absolutely nothing is going right?  You one avenue of attack, only to find that ends in a dead-end.  You plan a new way of dealing with the issue, then get foiled because your plan turned out to be too hard or just took too much effort.  At some point, you find yourself about to give up and you don't know why life has to be so hard!  We have all probably been that at some point in life as this is not an uncommon "fate" for humankind.  One area where I think we all struggle on occasion is finding the "right answer" when it is most needed.  You know exactly what I mean here - those moments when the moment passes and you are now able to think up all kinds of "good advice", "better solutions", or "clever come-backs".  Where were these "in the moment"?   If you think about it, life happened and you weren't very well-prepared for what happened because you cannot "plan" for everything.  What we can "plan", we should.  What is absolutely out of our control or planning, we CAN plan a strategy to deal with, but we may not have the "exact" plan figured out.

Without good advice everything goes wrong—it takes careful planning for things to go right. Giving the right answer at the right time makes everyone happy.  All who are wise follow a road that leads upward to life and away from death. (Proverbs 15:22-24 CEV)

I think this is probably one of the specific areas of our lives where we just don't do as well as we should - planning and preparing.  Now, lest you think I am going down the path of being so well-prepared that we are constantly in control of our outcomes, I am not saying that at all.  What I am saying is that if we have the right principles formed into our lives, the chances of facing life's challenging moments with some degree of "prepared response" will occur.  It isn't that we have it "all figured out", but we lean into what we know is true and right, then we count on those principles to help us formulate the best "plan" to deal with whatever or whomever it is we are facing.

Good advice just isn't the result of receiving counsel from someone "wiser" than you are on the subject.  It involves getting so familiar with the truth that we can begin to spot at first glance something which veers from truth even in the slightest.  We get "familiar" with truth through continual study of the Word of God, listening to wise teaching from those God has appointed as teachers in our lives, and also from simply living life next to someone who helps challenge you to continually grow up in Jesus.  We might get two of these incorporated into our lives - usually the first two - but neglect the other.  Why is that?  It is probably because it is hard to become so vulnerable with someone that you challenge each other to grow.  We live in a pretty superficial world - even in the realm of our relationships!

Life wasn't meant to be lived in solitude.  I think this is the moral of the movie "Cast Away", in which Tom Hanks played a Federal Express employee who was stranded on an island apart from any other human being after a crash of the airplane.  In the course of time, he came to "create" relationships with things like a soccer ball he named "Wilson" - his new best friend on the island.  What most don't remember about the movie is how he was called away from friends and family during the holiday season in order to solve some issue in an overseas location.  His job "trouble-shooting" life's issues for his job took him away repeatedly from his girlfriend - further delaying their chances at marriage.  

One of the most touching scenes in the movie comes when Tom Hanks actually creates a raft and sails away from the island.  After a period of time paddling hard, using his make-shift sail on the raft, a storm comes and he loses "Wilson" into the tumultuous seas and heavy winds.  He sinks into depths of loneliness so severe you think he might just want to end his life.  At the end of the movie, he buys a new volleyball and takes it to the home of the person the original packaged volleyball was addressed to in a small town in Texas.  Somehow, he wanted to restore what was lost those years before in the crash of the plane by those who were counting on those packages for their holiday giving.  I have to wonder if the one receiving the new "Wilson" would ever know how much that package actually meant to him on that island for all those five years he is stranded alone.

We are definitely not created to "go it alone" in this life.  Even when we are so alone our "alone" place echoes with the quiet of "just us", there is something deep down inside which craves so desperately for relationship.  The depths of our hearts echo the loneliness - often creating what is "missed" or "missing" through whatever means it has at its disposal.  Why? I honestly believe it is because God created us not only with a unique place for him within each of us, but for each other.  In creating us this way, any "void" created because we are not relating to others in the deep way he intends will cause us a sense of "loneliness".  Loneliness is an acknowledgement of the "void".  We need the Word to give us the foundation upon which relationship is built and maintained.  We need the solid teaching of those who have learned God's truths and know how to use them as building-blocks for wise living.  We also need each other - the missing element we often don't "build into" our plans in seeking answers to life's toughest challenges.  

Rather than "creating" something to fill the void, perhaps we'd benefit more from asking God to help us find the ones he has designed for us - to help us walk this life out, learning the answers to life's toughest challenges lie not in the "good answer" we might be able to provide in the moment, but in the "depths of relationship" which will help us walk stronger through those challenges!   Just relating!