Jerk The Slack Out Of My Chain, Please!
“Apply your heart to instruction and your ears to words of knowledge”
As I unpack scripture I learn there’s so much more than what meets the eye. When I added this verse to my list of potential blog subjects, I noted that our minds and logical reasoning abilities were excluded. Much of the bible and God’s methods of operation defy human rationale. I was surprised to learn the word instruction used here meant discipline, correction or chastening (no fun in any of those). The writer exhorts us to wholeheartedly pursue this type of instruction. We, however, are prone to do the exact opposite and skirt those issues.
Over the years I’ve slowly learned to appreciate and even seek out God’s correction. He faithfully administers it in a timely manner. Often His touch is so gentle it takes time to realize that I've been rebuked. The other weekend is a perfect example.
By late Friday afternoon my frustration level was through the roof. As a day trader, this past year has been my worst ever. I've been behind all year. Trying to trade while treading in a sea of red ink is mind numbing. After missing several opportunities for profitable trades, I had to walk away.
I'm also in the midst of a large landscape project, laying down pine straw mulch. On flat surfaces the job is easy. On steep inclined embankments it’s a challenge and a workout. As I struggled to secure the mulch I grumbled and complained to God. I was upset. I asked for His help and felt ignored. I reminded Him of promises that are still unfulfilled. I whined about watching people who don’t know or love Him prosper while others, like me, seemingly get the short end of the stick. “It’s not fair, God”, I told Him, “You said in Malachi that we can test you in the area of finances.” I stopped short of telling Him that in my opinion He flunked. I didn’t need to say a thing; He knew the thoughts and intents of my heart. I spent two hours throwing a pity party and no came but me.
Physically and emotionally exhausted, I looked toward heaven and said, “God, I’m wrong. Will You PLEASE correct my thinking?” Suddenly the heavens opened, angels descended and a heavenly voice spoke words of encouragement – NOT! Nothing happened. Initially, I wanted to scream, “I knew it, I knew it. Ask for help and all I get is dead air.” Wisely, I kept my mouth shut, dismissed that thought and listened.
Friday passed without a word. All day Saturday I consciously stayed tuned to hear His voice – silence. In the midst of the Sunday morning sermon my prayer was answered. My pastor made a statement to the effect that whatever has our focus and attention also has our devotion. Ouch, that jerked the slack out of my chain. I was centered on the problem not on God. I placed my losses in a position of pre-eminence over Him. I was fixated on the problem and not on the one who has and is the solution. God’s gentle rebuke came through loud and clear. He showed me the root of the problem. I needed to repent and think differently.
Going forward I get to daily choose what I’ll dwell on: God and His unlimited ability or my circumstances. It would be wonderful if my brain could be set to autopilot, disengage all thoughts of what isn’t working, concentrate on Him and what He can do. Everyday I’ll have to decide where to focus my attention and then reap the harvest of those thoughts. God won’t make me do what is best for me, He respects my free will. Can my thoughts change my circumstance? I believe they can. Will I take God’s correction and apply it? That remains to be seen.