Friday, April 29, 2011

Sitting on Our Hands

It is true that we are required to sit and receive information that we would rather bypass. A friend of mine recently relayed a story to me from her son who is a U. S. Marine in Afghanistan. He told her that during training before his first tour in Iraq, he and his fellow soldiers were made to sit on their right hand while they ate each meal. He kept his thoughts to himself, but it was clear everyone thought this was cruel and unnecessary treatment. They just guessed it was something to put down their will and make them uncomfortable.

His mother told me that after the companies of soldiers were adept at feeding themselves left-handed, the explanation came. Their superior officer announced that they were being sent to Iraq. And in Iraq, the enemy would be waiting for them to put down their weapons to eat. Their right hand was their weapon hand and they would not be allowed to put down their weapon. If they hadn’t been subjected to the seemingly useless exercise of eating with one left hand, they would have had to choose between eating and protecting their lives. The best-case scenario would have been a soldier extremely distracted by trying to maneuver a meal and a weapon without practice. The Marines are not told in advance what the exercise is meant to accomplish in order to keep the focus on obedience.

The more we know, the more questions, comments and or suggestions we have. They would likely have left-handed soldiers filing exemptions and others claiming they could eat with their left hand if they had to. But a one time test would not provide the training a process provides. Training ensures the consistent and dependable traits necessary are present in the product. We can pass a test on a fluke and the test is the product. But when we pass through a training process, we are the product. We come out on the other side disciplined by unwavering obedience to God. Ironically my friend’s son, this soldier, is named Will. Will had to sit on his right hand. His strong arm had to sit one out for obedience and allow the untrained, weaker arm to become adept. We all want to use our strengths and depend upon the arm of the flesh to feed us. But leaning on our own strength even when we are instructed to simply obey is disobedience.

I have realized recently that I naturally go to my strengths and even my library of experiences when I need to solve a problem. And if I don’t find the quick answer there, then I go to God for instruction. I give God the glory for any wisdom or knowledge I may have, but that is not enough. God is not here for us just to get the glory, He is here to give us guidance. And I was convicted of the fact that I run to my own strength before calling on God for guidance. I always have included Him in the solution but in order for me to go to the next level I know that I must submit more of my own ability. It doesn’t make my gifts useless to do so, in fact, my strengths unfold more graciously and miraculously than ever before.

God is the source of all wisdom; but wisdom loses its effectiveness when we believe it releases us from simple obedience to Him.

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

The Lady in The Blue Car

Chick-fil-a always has a long drive-through line, around lunch time. They are so efficient in cutting the waiting time in half, by sending attendants out to take your order before you get to the speaker menu. Knowing that Chick-fil-a gets slammed around noon, I usually wait till the crowd subsides before driving over for my favorite salad. A few days ago, I went a bit too early and I hit the end of a very long line. This line wrapped around the building and I was at the end of it. As I sat in my car thinking about how discouraging it might be for the person who gets in line behind me, I decided to do something fun. Everyone hates to rush up to buy something only to see a long weary line ahead. So, I made up my mind to pay the bill for the person who would pull up behind me. I had been the 100th customer at Chick-fil-a twice before and knew that after all the waiting, having your meal paid for, felt like a special message from God saying, "I see you, I know where you are, I can bless you any time I want."

Still the caboose in a train of hungry cars, I made the turn around the front playground area. The line had really gone down, and no one else had come up to join me at the back. The line that was once wrapped wholly around the building was now only half what it was. I had been in line for about fifteen minutes, so I realized I wasn't going anywhere fast. Within a few quick seconds a blue car comes in the front entrance. And instead of going around the building to join the line (as everyone else had), this car wedged its way into the four foot space in front of my car. I was in a convertible, so I graciously twirled my hand in a gesture to say, "join the line around that way." I am sure this lady was expecting something ugly in terms of a response from me. So she turned her body with her back completely against her door which was perpendicular to me. I said nothing. Just smiled. (which confused her whispering passenger.) She knew what she was doing when she cut in line. What she didn't know is that she was cutting herself off from a blessing.

I knew that just moments before I had decided to buy lunch for the car who came behind me. Butting in line had cost her more than she would know. When she got her food, I realized how big a blessing. It looked as if she was buying lunch for a whole daycare. It took three employees to bring out all the food she ordered. She could have had it all, without the cost. If only she had found her place in line. If only she had been willing to wait. In looking at the condition of her vehicle it was clear that she could have used a little blessing. I ended up buying a cool wrap and an arnold palmer for the man behind me. The only person who forfeited their blessing was the one who really needed it. All because she wasn't willing to wait behind one more car.

It made me think. How many times have I tried to jump the line and skip the waiting process?
I don't know about you but the waiting game wears me out.

Reasons we might cut in line and miss God's blessing...
I don't deserve to wait any longer...
Other people can get over it.
We are all responsible for ourselves, and I'm gonna get mine.
This is the way of the world.

All the reasons I can think of are ideals of self-servitude. Self-servitude is the humanistic line of thinking where we feel we must strong arm our blessing. We become the judge and jury, securing our own way. This is a game we play where we decide what rewards and recompense are deserved based upon our selfish premise.

A string of circumstances in the span of one morning gone wrong, can cause us all to fall into an attitude of self-servitude.The lady in the blue car probably endured many discouragements and God meant for her to get an encouraging message from Him. And she missed the message that could have fed her much more deeply than a value sized #1 with sweet tea.

I want to wait for God's best for me! How about you?!