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Life Hack #22: Listen Again

Life Hack #22:

It’s better to be wise than strong; intelligence outranks muscle any day. Strategic planning is the key to warfare; to win, you need a lot of good counsel. (Proverbs 24:5-6)

Back in the day, it was not uncommon to witness kids squaring off on the playground, then announcing: "My dad can beat your dad any day"? One child trying to prove something - that he or she has an advantage. Advantage is something we have been trying to "get" ever since we took our first breath. We are after any opportunity or circumstance we can "work our way" into to ensure success or a particular desired end. I remember learning some hand-to-hand combat maneuvers in the military, somehow thinking knowing the maneuvers would give me some advantage over another if the situation arose. I know I would have zero advantage over a black belt in karate, let alone a 250-pound angry military man! Why? What I was putting my faith in as "advantage" was pretty unreliable! Advantage is really not in what we possess or what we declare to be at our disposal - it is in what becomes an ingrained, worked-in, practiced part of our daily lives.

Advantage is really determined by things other than military might or the size of your muscles (or your dad's). We must realize the advantages we have in this life are entirely because of who and what we know. We have the wise counsel of scripture - giving us an advantage over those who rely upon their own devices to get through in this life. We have the determined tutelage of the Holy Spirit in our lives - giving us the advantage of receiving immediate feedback before any decision is made. We also have the excellent advice of wise counselors - those in the faith who have walked where we walk today and have learned a thing or two along the way. Advantage is in who and what we know - the way knowledge is a powerful tool in our hands only when we put it into practice enough to know it is tested and true.

To win, you need a lot of good counsel - not just one word you will hang your hat on out there on the playground. I cannot tell you the times I have just listened to the first voice that came along and found myself "burned" in the end. At times, things turned out miserably for me, while at others, they just kept getting worse as time went on. This tendency to get "burned" comes from the over-reliance upon that "first voice" information. We get burned because we did not use the advantage of putting that "voice" to the test. 

There is much wisdom in not always listening to the first voice we hear. I don't think God is affronted by me asking if it is his voice I am hearing, because he knows I am really saying I don't want to go into something blind - I want him with me! I begin to recognize the voice of my Lord, but at first, I may find myself questioning if it is him. Why does time make a difference? In time, I learn how he speaks, when he speaks, what things he values and directs my life toward. It comes by spending time with him and listening to the counsel he gives through the Word, sound biblical teaching, and even a worship song. Time with him develops a set of trusted principles in my life which I can refer to when considering the next step to be taken. In other words, I have a set of "counsel" principles which I know to be wise and trusted - foundational to my life. We can go a long way in this life with "true advantage" when we allow the counsel of the Lord to be the guiding influence of our lives. Just sayin!


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