Skip to main content

I've tried that before...

A long time ago, a friend gave me an illustration which has stuck with me through the years. He held out a beautiful Montblanc pen, (since I am a writer, pens are kind of a passion of mine), and asked me to "try" to take the pen away from him. Seeing this as an easy thing, I reached out to his outstretched hand to take the pen. Now the pen was in my possession, or so I thought. He then corrected me with the following: He told me to only "try" to take the pen! When I responded with a quizzical look on my face, he used this illustration to speak a life-lesson. Knowing my passion for words, he was showing me the very first definition of the word "try" is really something quite different than we might suppose. In fact, it means to "attempt" to accomplish something. It does not imply actually "doing" it - just attempting it! We talked for a while about "trying" versus "doing". We go through life doing a whole lot of "trying" - attempting to accomplish whatever we set our minds toward. Yet, in the end, when we look back at the "attempts" we may find most of them are actually only marginally successful, if not totally unsuccessful and unrealistic!

We Jews know that we have no advantage of birth over "non-Jewish sinners." We know very well that we are not set right with God by rule-keeping but only through personal faith in Jesus Christ. How do we know? We tried it—and we had the best system of rules the world has ever seen! Convinced that no human being can please God by self-improvement, we believed in Jesus as the Messiah so that we might be set right before God by trusting in the Messiah, not by trying to be good. 
(Galatians 2:15-16)

There is a definite difference between "doing" and "trying". What I did when he offered his pen is an action which accomplished the intended result. If I was simply trying, I might only have looked at the pen, imagining in my mind how I could swoop in, grasp the object and be off with it. One produced a result, the other produced a whole lot of "mind effort", but no real change in the pen's location or possession. There are many times we look back over our decisions only to find our "efforts" of "trying" to change a particular habit, or break free of a particularly annoying sin never really accomplished the change we desired. When we examine this further, we might just find we actually are doing what the dictionary offers as the second definition of "try" - we have "experimented" with various "options" to see which one might just work. Unfortunately, in our walk with Christ, no amount of "experimenting" with things we could "try" on our own will ever work to bring lasting change!

Lasting change comes not in merely changing the rules we keep. It comes in the changing of the company we keep! The company we keep in our thought life influences the decisions we make. If the company we are keeping in our minds is a confluence of all kinds of input - some spiritual, some worldly, some of our own twisted imaginations - we are often confused as to the actions we should take to accomplish change. This is why we are warned to not focus so much on the input, but the source of the input! Grace is the method of change God uses each and every time. It is by grace our thoughts are changed. It is through grace our choices are refined. In the movement of grace in our lives, we see what we imagine IN CHRIST accomplished in our lives. When we finally admit the "trying" efforts of our own "experiments" at change as riddled with self-failure, we begin to invite the influence of the Spirit of God into the midst of our desired change. We move from a position of "trying" into a place of "doing" by embracing the method of change that really works - Christ IN us, the hope of glory! Just sayin!

Comments

Popular posts from this blog

The bobby pin in the electrical socket does what???

Avoidance is the act of staying away from something - usually because it brings some kind of negative effect into your life.  For example, if you are a diabetic, you avoid the intake of high quantities of simple sugars because they bring the negative effect of elevating your blood glucose to unhealthy levels.  If you were like me as a kid, listening to mom and dad tell you the electrical outlets were actually dangerous didn't matter all that much until you put the bobby pin into the tiny slots and felt that jolt of electric current course through your body! At that point, you recognized electricity as having a "dangerous" side to it - it produces negative effects when embraced in a wrong manner.  Both of these are good things, when used correctly.  Sugar has a benefit of producing energy within our cells, but an over-abundance of it will have a bad effect.  Electricity lights our path and keeps us warm on cold nights, but not contained as it should be and it can produce …

Give him the pieces

What or Who is it that causes division among you right now? Maybe it is more of a 'what' than a 'who' that is creating the division between you and something you need in your life. Perhaps you are struggling with an addiction to something that keeps coming between you and true liberty from the hold that thing has on you. Yes, addiction is really the worst kind of enslavement one can imagine - being so emotionally or psychologically attached to the 'thing' that any attempt to break free causes so much trauma in your life that you just cannot imagine being free. But...God is above that addiction - he is stronger than the emotional or psychological pull that thing has in your life. Maybe the dividing force in your life right now is a 'who' - a tough relationship challenge between you and a coworker, a spouse that seems to no longer share your interests or values, or even a relative that doesn't understand some of your choices and now chooses to withdra…

Period!

When someone tells you that you need to wrap your mind around some concept, they are telling you that the subject at hand will take some effort on our part to actually get enough of a hint of it in order to even remotely understand it. The subject is complex, even a little overwhelming, and we will have to apply ourselves to really grasp it very well. We cannot wrap our minds around God's wisdom and knowledge - because it is infinite and our brains are sadly finite. We can only 'think' so far and then we have to 'trust'. Some of us think there is nothing we can trust if we cannot 'think' it through, but this will never work when it comes to our faith. Faith requires trust in what is unseen and not fully comprehended. The truth we believe is really building our trust, but until we approach God with more trust than 'thought', we will never fully grasp some of the things he has prepared for us.

We cannot wrap our minds around God’s wisdom and knowledge…