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Wednesday, August 24, 2016

Repair it, or replace it?

Have you ever heard the quote, "It is easier to build strong children than to repair broken men." (Frederick Douglass) His words are truer than we might realize, for God reminds us to train up our children in the way they should go, spare the rod and spoil the child (Proverbs 13:24), and that discipline proves a father's love for his child (Proverbs 3:12). If there is so much emphasis on training up our children in "the right way" so they will make decisions which end up being "good choices", then how much more do you suppose God will do the same with us?  As Douglass said, it is much easier to build us up than to repair us!

Teach a child how to follow the right way; even when he is old, he will stay on course.  (Proverbs 22:6 VOICE)

I think the first thing we all need to remember is that we are told to approach God as the small child does - with innocence, curiosity, interest, and awe.  As we do, we are drawn into his presence and begin to sense the guiding direction of his hand.  A good parent isn't one who swings the paddle, spouts a plethora of obnoxious words to motivate us, or even one who just sits back watching us stumble through life.  A good parent is one who knows when to say "no", gives a little latitude when they know the child will not be harmed by their actions, and gives advice when the decisions are a little tougher than the child may be ready or equipped to handle at the moment.  As good as a parent may be, if the child is unwilling to embrace the direction given, life will always be a constant struggle of will.

As scripture implies, we need to be taught.  At first, I didn't want to buckle down in school to "learn my lessons" - I liked recess the best and that is where my mind constantly wandered!  Why?  It was fun - there was a chance to release my energy - and did I mention, it was fun?  Most of us go through life wanting all our decisions to be "fun" in nature. The tough ones we'd like to leave to someone else, but when it is a parent we are leaving those to, we can sometimes even resist what we know we don't want to deal with!  We don't want to have to learn the "hard stuff" as much as we want to know when the next "recess" will be!

Broken adults are often the result of lots and lots of missed-steps along the way in life.  Steps when we should have asked for direction and been willing to receive it, but chose instead to follow our own advice.  Steps when others with greater insight than we had tried to talk us out of whatever it was we were about to do, but we just couldn't bear to have anyone tell us what we needed to do.  Steps when we just followed and found ourselves following the wrong lead.  I think this is why God reminds us to come to him as little children - laying aside all our preconceived ideas of how life works, who controls all the pieces, and what is really "good" for us. Little children are drawn into loving arms, aren't they?  They learn to trust by being sheltered in those arms - even when the things they are asked to do seem contrary to their wishes or a little too frightening to handle alone.

While all brokenness is a place for God to begin a work of rebuilding in our lives, wouldn't it be nice if we didn't need to "deconstruct" what has been built in us in order to see the "construction" of what only he can create?  Truth be told, all of us are at different places of "reconstruction" in our lives. Some are further along than others because it was easier for them to get rid of the old and embrace the new - something just "clicked" on the inside of them and they saw the old as undesirable and the new as better than anything they could ever imagine or dream.  The rest of us are struggling with letting go of some of the decisions and missed-steps we have made in life.  We continue to look at the dilapidated ruins of those places where we are broken beyond measure, but we somehow escalate those ruins to a "monuments" of pain in our lives.  Monuments are things we protect, aren't they? Yet when it is all said and done, some of the things we have erected monuments to in our lives are not really worthy of that status!

We'd be better to allow God to build us up - taking apart the pieces which don't belong in our lives.  Just remember this - in order to see anything new growing in the place of the old, there has to be a removal of the old.  We cannot "build over" the rubble of our lives.  Brokenness is not a bad thing as long as we allow God the access to not "repair" all the broken parts, but replace them with what only he can bring into our lives.  Just sayin!