Tuesday, January 15, 2019

Follow the pattern

The pattern makes all the difference when we don't know how to do something and need a little guidance to get the job done. I used to sew my own clothes and clothes for the kids. I used a lot of patterns back in the day. Some were very simply making it very easy to follow along with the completion of the garment. Others were quite hard, requiring a lot more concentration and attention to the details if I was going to get the job done right. I have assembled my share of 'out of the box' furniture - gaining me the privilege of being called upon by my family to always do it now. Why have I become so proficient in the task? Because I made my share of mistakes of NOT following the directions, having to start over again, and now I remember to read the instructions word for word! They are given to guide me in the assembly and to discount them is to allow for error. The Word of God is given as our instruction, but we are also asked to watch God and see what he does - his actions serve as an example or pattern for us to learn from and begin to emulate.

Watch what God does, and then you do it, like children who learn proper behavior from their parents. Mostly what God does is love you. Keep company with him and learn a life of love. Observe how Christ loved us. His love was not cautious but extravagant. He didn’t love in order to get something from us but to give everything of himself to us. Love like that. (Ephesians 5:1-2 MSG)

Watch and do. This is an age-old way of learning new things. Try as I might, I never did learn to line dance even though I really wanted to, although I have had great examples to follow. Why? It isn't in me to learn it! I think I don't have the rhythm or something, but it didn't ever really 'sink in' no matter how much I observed their example. Forward, backward, side to side, slide, glide, turn, AYE! Now my feet are all muddled up and everyone is bumping into me because I went the wrong direction! I was watching my example, but I didn't do it right! We don't always get things 'right', do we? Sometimes we have the best example around and still don't get it 'right'. We make a wrong step, turn the wrong way, and alas, we find ourselves stumbling or being a stumbling block!

I gave up on line dancing. but I didn't give up on learning a life of love by keeping company with the one who loves like no other. Line dancing won't minister to a hurting heart, or lift a spirit knocked down by life. Love will! Keep company with God - learn of him, observe his actions, see when he doesn't act, and really soak it all in. There is something powerful in observing the actions of another. Not only do we see how it 'should' be done, but we can also observe how it should 'not' be done. The coin has two sides, doesn't it? I have observed examples I really don't want to emulate - simply because the outcome of their actions didn't produce what I desired in my life. The examples we choose to emulate will be those that produce the outcomes we desire or 'crave' in life.

God's love doesn't quit - it is steady, persevering, and focused. His love doesn't find favorites - it is open to all who would receive it, even though they don't know they want or need it. His love finds ways to reach people - it is powerful, penetrating, and persuasive. His love is unmatched by any other and it is a great example for us to follow. We only learn of his love by observing him - by keeping company with him and those who have already learned a great deal of his love in their own lives. Examples - patterns to be followed. Being new to woodworking, I realize the importance of a good 'pattern' to follow. I can go to Pinterest for ideas of all manner of projects, but if I want to really know the way to construct something, Pinterest is not the end-all. I need the pattern. I have to go to the site of the individual who posted the project and read the intricate details of each cut, joint, and required tool.

God provides all these instructions in his Word, but he doesn't expect us to learn of his love from words alone. He provides examples - repeatedly showing us HOW he loves. Why? He knows very well that when we connect the HOW with the WHAT, we might just understand a little better the WHY behind the actions we are taking! Just sayin!

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