How can you claim, “We are wise; the law of the Lord is with us”? In fact, the lying pen of scribes has produced falsehood. The wise will be put to shame; they will be dismayed and snared. They have rejected the word of the Lord, so what wisdom do they really have?…They have treated superficially the brokenness of My dear people, claiming, “Peace, peace,” when there is no peace. (Jeremiah 8:8-9,11)
We sometimes claim what we want to be true. If we claim it enough, it must be true, right?
Not even close.
Each of us has limited perspective. We have a foggy view of reality, moreso in some areas than others. We can share with one another, acknowledging that someone else’s view of a specific truth might be more clear than ours. But only God has crystal clear vision. Only He can truly fact check us. Only He can be completely trusted. We just have to be humble enough to learn – from Him and through others. We can’t get too caught up in our lack of understanding, while being willing to see our misunderstandings. We need to explore what we can and keep moving forward, because fog lifts.
Those who are confused will gain understanding, and those who grumble will accept instruction. (Isaiah 29:24)
“Well, that would be nice!”
That’s what I wrote to the side of this verse in last year’s journalling Bible.
What if every time we grumble, we use it as motivation to shift to inviting and accepting instruction? I’m not pointing fingers; I’m including myself.
Wouldn’t be great if grumbling became something productive?
When we do it, we tend to get stuck. It’s as if the scowl on our face deepens, and we feel the need to infect as many people as possible.
But look at the word. It’s kind of funny-looking. Stare at long enough, and you just might smile or giggle. I start thinking about Pooh Bear’s rumbly tummy.
Oddly enough, when I search for an image of “grumble,” the results include many photos of puppies. I guess others are trying to find anecdotes for grumbles, too.
There is an anecdote (that isn’t alive and squirmy). It’s humility, a willingness to see outside ourselves and learn. And learning seems a lot more fun and worthwhile to me than grumbling.
Hold on to instruction; don’t let go. Guard it, for it is your life. (Proverbs 4:13)
We must grasp and hold onto God’s words, not just bump into them or be familiar with them. God’s Word has power even with the slightest contact, but co-ownership requires more of us.
We need to guard what God is cultivating within us, not to be stubborn, because a open invitation for Him to change us is essential, but to be attentive. He’s willing to work in our lives. We can respond with a willingness to listen, learn, and live well.
Faith should remain open to the ever-present Spirit rather than chaining the Spirit to our past.
We seem to want to figure something out, then be content to keep it that way instead of being as willing to discover and change as we were when we first learned or realized something.
God wants to change us, continually. Faith isn’t a one time decision. It’s ever-present and active. It’s ever-deepening trust. It’s one step at a time. It’s getting to know God as the Father, Jesus, and Holy Spirit, so that we can change as we yield and grow.
Joshua sent the people away, and the Israelites went to take possession of the land, each to his own inheritance. The people worshiped the Lord throughout Joshua’s lifetime and during the lifetimes of the elders who outlived Joshua. They had seen all the Lord’s great works He had done for Israel. (Judges 2:6-7)
What a legacy!
Yet it was short-lived:
After them another generation rose up who did not know the Lord or the works He had done for Israel. (Judges 2:10b)
Proverbs 22:6 says, Teach a youth about the way he should go; even when he is old he will not depart from it.
Indeed, this is what we should do, but it is not a guaranteed promise that generations will follow the example set for them. Because (1) every generation that teaches the next is flawed and imperfect, and (2) every generation that follows must wrestle through and learn some things for themselves. It is how we grow.
These are the nations the Lord left in order to test Israel, since the Israelites had fought none of these in any of the wars with Canaan. This was to teach the future generations of the Israelites how to fight in battle, especially those who had not fought before. (Judges 3:1-2)
Each generation must learn to fight, not just in physical battle but in spiritual, relationship, and emotional battle. They need to learn how to fight well, not just with the end in mind but with valuing the process of learning and fighting. It’s not always about the declared winner but being able to claim honor and humility every step of the way.
Have you heard of a gap year? It’s a period, typically an academic year, taken by a student as a break between high school and college, vocational school, or military service. President Obama’s daughter’s gap year announcement has recently made the news. In her case, I think it’s a good idea. She already faces a year of changes ahead, as her dad leaves office and the entire family moves and readjusts. Plus, she’s lived the past (at least) eight years in the spotlight. Not that she won’t have a spotlight on her once her dad’s out of office, but perhaps it will be just a little less after someone else is Commander-in-Chief.
But for those of us who grew up in the “push forward and work hard and don’t stop or you’re a slacker” era, a gap year is hard to swallow. Are these kids lazy?
Maybe a few are, but I think that’s a dangerous assumption to make. To be honest, not everyone knows what they want to do beyond high school. Or they know they have a long road ahead and want some prep time before diving into adulthood. Looking back, we might be able to say high school was easy and should be counted as a “gap” before real life, but for those in the middle of it or pushing through to the end, it can be stressful and demanding. Maybe some people choosing a gap year are not being lazy but smart, practical, and discerning.
Let’s be honest. There are gaps in all of our lives. Some we need, and some we don’t. Some we see, and some we don’t. We often see gaps in others. There are gaps between goals and where we are, our goals and reality. But isn’t that normal? When we’re working toward something, doesn’t that assume we’re not quite there?
Christians are often accused of being hypocritical, and they blame others of the same thing. What if we actually invited others into the gap between our goals and reality instead of pointing to hypocrisy? What if we tried to see the wisdom, practicality, discernment, and humility in the gap instead of the fault?
Some things are hard and helpful. I’ve learned that a lot lately. We want to separate the two. If something is hard, we have an aversion to it. We don’t want to endure it. We’re rather avoid it. But we need it in order to grow, to refine us, to teach us who we are, and in most cases, who God is. Without it, we miss something.
If you try to help a butterfly out of its cocoon, trying to make it’s transition easier, it will not be able to fly. It needs the struggle to complete its transformation. The struggles prepares the butterfly for the next stage of life.
We can help each other through struggles, but we can’t completely take them away. We can be present, patient, and encouraging. We can help, but it’s not easy. It’s okay. The hard stuff is often work it when we approach it with humility and a willingness to learn and grow.