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.

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