I've written several articles that I believe are germane to the purposes of us as Christians and politically informed citizens. Below is one such article. I hope you enjoy. God Bless,
written on July 27th, 2007 – The Way Things Work
Scripture Reading: Isaiah 28:23-28 “Listen and hear my voice; pay attention and hear what I say. When a farmer plows for planting, does he plow continually? Does he keep on breaking up and harrowing the soil? When he has leveled the surface, does he not sow caraway and cumin? . . . His God instructs him and teaches him the right way. Caraway is not threshed with a sledge, nor is a cartwheel rolled over cumin; caraway is beaten out with a rod, and cumin with a stick.” (New International Version)
“Isaiah is pointing to the experiences of farming – to man engaging the natural world – to remind us that there is a way things work. That is one of the great lessons nature has for us. There is a way things work. You cannot simply walk through this world any old way you want. Turn a canoe sideways and it will tip. Approach an elk upwind and it will spook. Run your hand along the grain of wood and you’ll get a splinter. There is a way things work. Oh, what a crucial lesson this is for us. In the realm of nature, you can’t just order room service or change the channel, or write a new program to solve your problems. You can’t ignore the way things work. You must be taught by it. Humility and wisdom come to a man when he learns those ways and learns to live his life accordingly. His God instructs him through the natural world.” (John Eldredge; “The Way of the Wild Heart”; pp102) (Emphasis by underlining is mine)
This week’s writing is in the form of a confession, so if you see the word “I” in it a great deal more than normal perhaps you’ll forgive me in advance.
When I read John’s words this last week something in me rose up and said “Yes!” Most of my life I’ve worked with this precept as one of my main assumptions “There is a way things work.” Also, most of my life has been spent in trying to figure out what that way is. I’m not sure why it took so long for me to begin taking instruction and learn how to expand my experience through listening to others…but it took too long.
It was during my days at Army “boot camp” (Basic Training) that I got the first inkling that I could actually learn from someone else’s experience, rather than my own. We had reported to an area where an older, crusty, and scarred veteran instructor was going to teach us about night vision and night firing of our weapons. He started out with a speech that really impressed me. I don’t remember it all, by any means, but in it I do remember him saying “Give me the good ol’ American fighting man every time. We’ve been in every kind of battle, and never been beaten. The reason for that is that we learn well from others and our own history on how to fight; we apply those lessons and…we never give up.” During his introduction he also said that while he knew we were tired and that it was dark and might be easy to doze off, he encouraged us to keep ourselves alert and to learn the lessons of other soldiers who had paid a high price for their combat education and that, by doing so, we too could become superior soldiers, no matter what the circumstances of the battle. That stuck with me. I could learn from other people’s experiences. I could practice their techniques and improve myself without having to struggle on my own so much. All I really needed to do was to learn “…the way things work.”
I wound up coupling that with another piece of advice from my dad. During one of his “education sessions” with me he said “Son. If you ask another person’s advice you do them a disservice and announce your ignorance if you don’t take the advice. By asking for their advice you’re admitting that you don’t know, and that you think they do know, so it would be insulting to ask and then not take their advice. Which brings me to the second part of my advice to you. Be very picky who you ask advice from. Now, if someone offers their advice it may be worth what you pay for it (nothing) and there’s no obligation to take it.”
I discovered dad’s assessment to be true. There was no dearth of advice from many quarters, and that much of it was worth what you paid for it. But also, I discovered that a good way to begin to understand things beyond my experience was by reading the reports, exploits, or reasoning of others who’ve written, experienced, and/or carefully considered the subject (whatever it was). However, most writings only explore one aspect of a thing in order to promote whatever the author’s conclusion was. Only a few writers were open enough, candid enough, or clear enough to have searched out the way a thing works and share that with their readers. So I found that, while I might read anything, there were only a few writers who became my mentors and teachers. Those writers fell into two categories. First were the writers of the books of the Bible and, in the second group, were a few expositors or apologists like C.S. Lewis, Watchman Nee and, most recently John Eldredge.
One piece of great advice I received in my early Christian life was that I should read the four gospels and the book of 1st John to begin my Christian journey. So I did. I discovered that the Holy Spirit had been given to us to be the “Parakaleö ” in our lives. The Greek word may be translated as “Advocate,” “Counselor,” “Comforter,” or “Friend.” Early on, I often turned to Him for advice and direction in learning “…the way things work.”
He’s been so good to teach me in my ignorance, and comfort me in the hard process of learning about life in a sinful world. The lessons were both grand and painful. There were lessons of love and betrayal, wonder and abhorrence, accomplishment and failure, my own obedience to Him and my failures to obey (sin). There’s a good reason why God had John use the word parakaleö. I have frequently needed the Holy Spirit in all of His roles as advocate, counselor, comforter, and friend.
But recently I’ve come to see that, somewhere along The Way, I began using His counseling less and began to depend upon my own experiences more. What a shame both for me and on me. He is the ultimate Counselor and advice-giver, for He is a part of the Triune God who created all and who, beyond all that we ask, think, or imagine knows “…the way things work.” I’m still involved in needing the great Counselor in many things every day and, while my experience should be included in the understanding process, it’s only a small and basic inclusion of the “more” He has for me.
How about you? Often the Lord has taken me through something or shows me something about myself that needs correcting in me – not just for my own good – but also to share that very thing with others who also need His love and counsel in their life. Do you turn to God and ask for His counsel and, even more important, His Counselor? Are you willing to take His counsel when He tells you what is needed, no matter how hard it may seem?
There is a great battle going on in the world between God and evil. God isn’t threatened, nor can He be either threatened or defeated, but the stakes for you and I couldn’t be higher. For at risk are the souls of men, women, and children. At stake are the eternal destinies of eternal beings who will spend that eternity in glory or the Lake of Fire. And it’s important that those who name Christ as their Savior hear His Counselor, take His instructions, and walk in His ways – in “…the way things work.” We all need to live “on purpose” be deliberate in our walk with God and each other.
I’ve needed to repent this week of relying only upon my own experiences and to pay closer attention to the counsel of the Holy Spirit in daily activities. We walk by people every day who are at all points in the human spectrum of life and decision. That clerk you see at the grocery store may commit suicide tonight. The man coming out of the liquor store may be in an auto accident on the way home. The bright teenager who just graduated may live a trivial life looking for “success” to fill the emptiness. Only God knows why He puts someone in our path today. Start up each day soaking up His life, love, and counsel so that the clerk feels new hope, the man coming out of the liquor store is delayed from his accident, and the teenager finds real fulfillment in Jesus Christ. Join with me in asking the Holy Spirit, as our ultimate counselor, “How do things work?” and be prepared for His answer, along with the application steps. You see, my experience has shown me that God doesn’t often just tell me stuff so I can run around with it in my head. He tells me “…the way things work.” So that I can put them to good use.
Will you join me?