Friday, November 16, 2018

Repeat this

Bill Graham reminds us: "Each life is made up of mistakes and learning, waiting and growing, practicing patience and being persistent." We find ourselves repeating these things all through life. None of us ever gets to the point we stop making mistakes - for all of us are capable of missteps. Yet, all of us are equally capable of avoiding them again because we learn from those mistakes. There are many things that 'prod us' into living wisely, growing well, so that we understand the value in being patient, or trudging headlong into something we should not overlook. Nothing 'prods' us more than the Word of God - put that Word into the mouth of a close friend who is looking out for our good and you have a double-edged sword!

The words of the wise prod us to live well. They're like nails hammered home, holding life together. They are given by God, the one Shepherd. (Ecclesiastes 12:11)

The words of the wise - oh, how hard it is to find those words at times. We are inundated with all kinds of "words" - surrounded on all sides with varying opinions, challenging propositions, and proposals of hope that somewhat stimulate us into a form of action. In the end, if we are faithful to turn back to the Word of God, not just listening to these opinions or propositions, we will find balance in what we are hearing. Wise words are those which give counsel, steadying our course, and redirecting us when our purpose may be a little self-centered or off-balance. They "prod" us to live well - to make wise choices. Words that stem from relationship with Christ are those which stimulate others and excite them into action. They are words that trigger or launch action - rousing us from our spiritual, emotional, or physical slumber. They are words spoken at the right time, in the right spirit, with the right intensity to get our attention. As such, they "prod" us - stirring us up and moving us into action.

Like nails hammered home - they hold our life together. Nothing provides stability or soundness in the midst of chaos as well as a well-appointed word from a godly man or woman with a listening ear and tender heart of the one intent on learning what God would have them share. Some messages we hear from the pulpit are like that - they are nails hammered home. We almost sense that God "aired our dirty laundry" to the pastor that morning, and the message was directed right at us! Yet, in embracing the "prodding" of that message, we find exactly what we needed. There are times when the words 'hammered home' come from a close friend, knowing exactly what to speak and specifically when it needs to be spoken into our lives. Both carry a challenge - both stimulate us to growth - both help us to receive clarity. So many times we can feel like life is falling apart around us - nothing seems or appears stable. In those moments, a word aptly spoken provides great comfort, wise direction, and purposeful plans for our life. 

Learning to be the one God uses to bring such words of wisdom in the right season is what each of us should strive to see developed within us. There are probably things God has shared in your life (in your time of study, in your opportunities of worship, or in your moments of personal tragedy), that if you'd just took the time to share them, they would be like a spiritual hammer driving a much needed nail home to a listening and hungry heart. Some of us think we have no ability to "teach" another, but the words we share could redeem a life and right a course. Read this passage again. Have you the desire and ability to "prod" another to live well? Then ask God to open doors of opportunity to share the wisdom he has given you - someone will benefit from what you have learned in your walk with Christ. Open doors are the first step to your words "hitting home" just where they are needed. Ask God to give you the ability to share his truths that you've tucked into the recesses of your heart - with a clarity of speech that touches the heart of the hearer. As you begin to walk through the "open doors" God provides, trusting him to bring the "right words" in the "right season", he will. As I was out walking with my BFF this week, I found a gentle sharing back and forth - words that just come out of hearts committed to finding the best in one another and in lifting each other up. These are words that 'drive home' and 'prod' a soul. 

The words of the wise are not always the words of the "learned". Book learning and higher education just go so far. The words that influence are those that are spoken from a place of relationship - relationship solidly founded on truth, growing in grace, and triumphant in testing. They are not words spoken from places of perfection, but from places of perseverance.  The truth you stand upon, the grace you have embraced, and the triumph you learned in the midst of testing are but a few of the "words of wisdom" that are like "nails driven home" when they are ignited by the passion of the Spirit that lives within you. We don't do the "hammering" ourselves - the Spirit of God places the "nail" - he allows our words to drive that nail home. Words spoken in the right season, in the right spirit, act as a "hammer" in God's hands. Let's learn to be "hammers" in God's hands. Just sayin!