Thursday, May 31, 2018

Don't just pucker up!

If people can't see what God is doing, they stumble all over themselves; But when they attend to what he reveals,
they are most blessed.  (Proverbs 29:18)

"If life gives you lemons, make lemonade." This was Dale Carnegie's way of telling us to keep a positive focus on a whole lot of negative stuff that is happening to us in life - from business difficulties to personal ones. Have you ever noticed that after a while a steady diet of lemonade gets to taste pretty bitter! If your physical body can only handle so much "acidic" intake before it starts to rebel with changes internally that you may not fully recognize until they have created a state of imbalance that you cannot easily bounce back from, what about the 'rest of you'. Guess what - your spiritual state of "balance" can be equally as disturbed by a steady diet of "bitterness". The bitterness of life can present us with much difficulty in our physical, emotional, spiritual, and relational health!

Our passage reminds us that not being able to see what God is doing leads to us kind of stumbling all over ourselves. Sometimes we even find ourselves stumbling all over each other in the process of trying to make forward progress beyond the bitter stuff in life. For many of us, "not seeing what God is doing" can be more common-place than some may think. It took me a long while in my own walk to finally come to the place where I took the time to just settle myself down long enough to finally get to the place that God could even show me what he was doing instead of just getting all wigged out about the 'unkind' things that were happening! I charged around in the chaos of the moment, wondering all along what God was doing, but not even bothering being quiet in my spirit or emotions long enough for him to speak to me. I was adding even more chaos to the situation by my inattention to God and my unwillingness to take control of my emotions instead of allowing them to control me.

The danger of becoming more focused on how we can deal with the "lemons" in life than on how God wants us to be processing those "lemons" is that we may become very bitter by their influence inside us. Whenever we give life's issues more attention than we give God, we get chaos - we get 'wigged out' by the very 'sour' stuff of life. Where chaos is present, the soil of our hearts, minds, and spirits are ripe for a harvest of very bitter or sour fruit. Chaos is a state of utter confusion, disorder, or turmoil. In chaos, we don't see clearly because we interpret things through a perspective that is clouded by the acidic nature of the circumstances. Acid burns and it creates a sour mood, unkind responses, and unintended consequences both to us and to those around us in life.

It is a fine line between being caught up in the moment and being silent in God's presence. It is a matter of the internal will to be very attentive to quieting oneself in the midst of chaos. Yet, as we are reminded in our passage, that is exactly how God intends to keep us from a steady intake of "lemonade" that turns us bitter on the inside! In the quiet of his presence, we are "re-balanced" - the acidic stuff of life is allowed to 'neutralize' in his presence. Whenever I find myself interpreting life's issues as though they are lemons just ripe for making lemonade, God helps me to remember that I really don't like the taste of lemonade! His Holy Spirit is kind of like our spiritual "litmus" paper - that tiny strip of paper that lets us see if a substance is acidic or alkaline. Too acidic and we need to re-balance in order to not become bitter old bags! Too alkaline and we need to re-balance in order to have any impact as the salt of this earth!

As you may have heard, to be "blessed" is to be happy. It is not a promise that God will lavish all kinds of material blessings on us, but rather a reminder that our hearts, minds, and spirits will be "re-centered" on what matters, what gives true hope, and what will create inner peace in the time of trial. If life is giving you lemons right now, ask God to show you how to handle the lemons. Get quiet long enough for the Spirit of God to show you just how much of those lemons you have internalized and how they have affected your inner spirit. When you do, he can and will bring balance again and help you to avoid the bitterness that comes when we try to deal with truckloads of lemons all on your own! Just sayin!