Friday, May 13, 2016

Direction, Visibility, and Correction - we need all three

"Action is the foundational key to all success." (Pablo Picasso)  If this statement is true, then it stands to reason that the exact opposite of this hypothesis is also true: "Inaction is the foundational key to all lack of success." Would this be true?  No.  There are times when "inaction" is the best "action" - yielding a good result (which is one way we label "success" in our lives).  There are also times when action can be totally in the wrong direction, yielding something less than "successful" which we spend a great deal of time "undoing" in life.  So, I have to disagree with Picasso a little here - action in and of itself is not the foundation to success - it is taking the right action which makes the results more certain!

So, my son, follow your father’s direction, and don’t forget what your mother taught you—keep their teachings close to your heart; engrave them on a pendant, and hang it around your neck.  Their instruction will guide you along your journey, guard you when you sleep, and address you when you wake in the morning. For their direction is a lamp; their instruction will light your path, and their discipline will correct your missteps, sending you down the right path of life. (Proverbs 6:20-23 VOICE)

When our actions are based in well-founded principles, they are more likely to yield the results we can build upon until we begin to see the "success" we desire as a result of these actions.  The principles by which we live are often established at a very early age - by the parenting of others in our lives.  Sometimes this comes from our actual parents, but at times the parenting comes as a result of a "mentoring" relationship we have with any number of individuals.  If those principles are based upon the teachings outlined in the Word of God, we stand a much better chance of not having to "undo" those beliefs or standards later on in life.  If we adopt a principle which is flawed, the foundation to our actions is flawed, as well.  This means whatever is built upon that foundation will bear the "flaw" at some point.

Right principles actually do three things for us:

1) They are illuminating direction for our actions.  If you have ever taken any action in the total darkness, you know how cautiously you have to move.  You often trust you are putting an object where it belongs, or that you are moving along a course free of anything which will make you stumble and fall. Right teaching (principles) in our lives actually becomes a "lamp" which helps to define direction.  "Direction" comes from the Latin word meaning to arrange in a straight line. It stands to reason that we wouldn't want to be zig-zagging all through life life a football player trying to escape all those players trying to bring him down on the field.  That type of "evasive activity" is good on occasion to avoid the stumble and allow us to keep running the race, but to do it day after day, every move we make - - - that would wear us down quickly, leave us with injuries we might not recuperate well with, and place us in innumerably more danger than we might want to live with!

2) They make things visible which otherwise might be less than noticeable to us.  Light just affords opportunities for illumination.  When the principles we base our action upon are biblical, the steps we take are because we begin to receive a little bit of "visibility" in our actions.  If you have ever driven through dense fog or a huge wall of blowing dust, you know just how cautious you have to be as you make your way along.  You cannot "see" what you normally count on "seeing" as you make your way through that stuff.  What has happened is that your "visibility" has been decreased to almost zero.  It is dangerous to proceed, but if you do, you must do so at a much slower pace - almost inching your way along.  The right principles actually make clear the path we are about to take.  We may not know all the hazards along the way, but at least our "visibility" is established for the course we are on!

3) They actually correct our actions before we do irreparable harm to ourselves.  If you have ever been so caught up gawking around at things around you that you stumble over the smallest crack in the sidewalk, you know how easily that stumble can lead you toward the ground!  What right principles do for us is redirect our focus - they keep us from being distracted by all the things around us and help us to make course corrections when necessary.  Maybe this is why God gave us peripheral vision.  If all we had was that "direct line of sight" (like looking through a tiny pinhole) in life, think of how many potential hazards we would miss and possibly end up with hurt being brought into our lives simply by their presence.  God's principles help us to see what is not only in our direct line of sight, but what presents hazards in the periphery of our journey!

We might not value right principles much when they are being taught, but if we will embrace that the one who prepared those principles for our safety has done so because of his intense love for us, we might be more inclined to accept their direction, allowing it to give us visibility in our path, and helping us to make even the subtle course corrections which will preserve us safely in the end.  Just sayin!