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

Getting at the heart of it all

Have you ever seen someone so good with their skinning knife they can just peel away the hide of an animal without a rip or tear, no waste of any of the meat just below that skin? I have seen some fishermen able to fillet their catch with such skill not even one bone is found in the fillet. How do they learn this skill? I think it comes to them through practice and with the employment of the right 'tool' to do the job at hand. There is comfort in knowing that God means what he says and his Word will come to pass. His Word is like the scalpel in the skilled hands of a surgeon or the knife in the hands of the skilled hunter. As a nurse, I have seen the skillful use of the scalpel - dissecting away the finest of tissue to protect the healthy tissue and to expose the tissue that has become devitalized by disease or decay. I have also seen the damage done by a "blade" in the hands of one not trained or at all skilled in its use. The difference is beyond description.

God m…

Be a little salt

Ever wonder why Jesus left his disciples with the idea of being 'salt on this earth'? We don't fully appreciate salt these days because we aren't as accustomed to how it was used during the times Jesus spoke those words. We often have to put ourselves into the culture where the words are being recorded in order to fully comprehend the significance of their meaning. In the days of the disciples, salt was a basic "staple" of life. It was that which acted as "preservation" for everything. It also was the main seasoning of the dishes prepared - although there were other spices, salt was a 'staple'. Perhaps we would do well to look at some of the other functions of salt in order to see what Jesus may have meant when he referred to our lives a salt-seasoning that brings out the God-flavors of the earth.

"Let me tell you why you are here. You're here to be salt-seasoning that brings out the God-flavors of this earth. If you lose your saltin…

Hey, friend me!

When we really determine to walk the pathway of a disciple, it will cost us. The pathway is not always traveled by as many of those we call "friends" as we'd like to think. Yet, when we find someone to travel with us in this journey of faith, what a blessing it is! We need each other to understand and fulfill God's calling on our lives. We each compliment the other, challenging and uplifting, learning together what is contained deep in the Word of God.

Keep me safe, O God, I've run for dear life to you. I say to God, "Be my Lord!" Without you, nothing makes sense. And these God-chosen lives all around—what splendid friends they make! (Psalm 16:1-3)

David's words ring true in the hearts of many who engage in this walk of discipleship with Christ - without you, God, absolutely nothing makes sense at all. We can attempt to make sense out of tragedy, loss, or even a success all on our own. Without God, and those he places in our lives as fellow travelers…