Monday, February 17, 2014

Blogging with Liz: Favorite Proverbs

My friend Liz has an awesome blog. This year, she’s going doing a weekly Bible study post on people’s 50 favorite proverbs. I love her exegetical style, and often find myself pondering the question she includes at the end of each post. So this is me…catching up with the proverbs she’s covered so far. Without further ado: Blogging with Liz.

Wisdom’s Source - For the Lord gives wisdom; from his mouth come knowledge and understanding. Proverbs 2:6

I'm late revving up my engines, but here I am! I believe God is asking me to use his free gift of wisdom to get back into writing. God often speaks to me in strange and off-the-beat moments, and I used to be good at sitting down and capturing them (or working them out) as blog posts. This past year has been one of closeness with my heavenly father, but relative silence in the blogging world. But I sense a changing in the wind, and I truly believe it's his still, small voice calling me once again to return to the discipline of writing. Now I just have to put feet to that call. (Easier said than done!)

Right Time, Right Word - A person finds joy in giving an apt reply— and how good is a timely word! Proverbs 15:23

Timely words. I’ve experienced this phenomenon a time or two, and the one that sticks out most vividly in my memory is the time I shared a bit of my testimony with a village of women outside of Jinja, Uganda. I struggled with what I wanted to say, because I didn’t think I would have any common denominator with these women. My background and circumstances were just so different from theirs. How could I possibly say anything relevant or encouraging to them? But I went out on what I thought was a limb and spoke from my heart. Wouldn’t you know it; they had just finished a Bible study that overlapped with several of the aspects of my testimony! It was a precious time of fellowship, and I emerged from that day with a renewed respect for that still small voice that speaks so faithfully to my heart.

No Fooling - The way of fools seems right to them, but the wise listen to advice. Proverbs 12:15

Something that seemed so right at the time.  Missionary friendship. You know, continuing to be close friends with someone who once walked the straight and narrow but is now following the wide and popular…thinking my presence would shine a light in a darkened place.  It's a principle that may be true, but is a path that must be walked with great care and intention. Because while it is true that the light of Christ can shine in the darkest of dark, it is also true that bad company corrupts good character. And when roles are reversed, and the once discipled becomes the missionary to the disciple-er….the regular rules of outreach become blurred. Advisers told me to distance myself from my friend, but I foolishly thought if I held out, I could show grace and compassion and unconditional love and, be a conduit of reconciliation. But in this case it was foolish. When hearts are hardened, it doesn’t matter what my walk shows. The fallen friend sees what they want to see, and hears what they want to hear. Truth be told, my character and testimony *did* suffer for a time, and it was incredibly hard to back away from someone I loved. But through my experience I learned the difference between showing Jesus to a new audience vs. showing Jesus to a hardened heart. It’s a heartbreaking lesson, and I still pray for my friend…but I no longer walk as closely by her side.

In the Spotlight - The human spirit is the lamp of the Lord that sheds light on one’s inmost being. Proverbs 20:27

When I ponder this verse, I think about how God has set eternity in the hearts of men. The very fact that the human spirit continues to search and ask and explores deep questions is a searchlight meant to point the way home to our heavenly Father. And no matter how messy and complicated our inmost being might be, grace whispers “Where sin abounded, grace abounded much more.” (Romans 5:20) This promise has rescued me on more than one dark night, and my view of God expands each time I understand a deeper part of myself. “You love that part too?” I ask. “Yes.” Comes the answer. “I knit you together before your story began (Psalm 139:19), and I love you.” As my road continues on, I can truly declare that I love him, but he loved me first (1 John 4:9)…quirks and failures and triumphs all.

Here Comes Trouble - When pride comes, then comes disgrace, but with humility comes wisdom. Proverbs 11:2

When I look back now at all the activities and responsibilities I juggled in my early 20’s, I just don’t know how I did it. Being that high performer was an area of pride for me. My "Newport Beach" moment came when the inevitable happened and I dropped the ball in a big way. It was a time of transition at our church, and there was suddenly a need for someone to lead the children’s handbell group. The person who asked me thought I would be more than up to the task: I’d grown up playing handbells at our church, I was good with kids, I was a natural leader…everything pointed to me being the perfect person to fit the bill. I thought so too.

But it turned out that even though the kids only rehearsed once a week for an hour, the demand and draw on me as the leader went much beyond that. The kids were lovely. I had actually had a great time introducing them to the world of music, and even more into the world of handbells. But I quickly discovered myself falling behind and feeling unprepared and frazzled. Long story short, it turned out to be a train wreck and I dropped out just two months after accepting the challenge.

I was so embarrassed, disappointed in myself, and tremendously humbled. I prided myself on being dependable, being a leader, and being able to balance my demanding schedule…and I had fallen flat on my face. I felt guilty about letting the kids down. I felt guilty about letting the leader down. And truth be told, I spent the next several months avoiding both sets of people. Because each time I did, I felt my stomach drop anew. I was just ashamed.

The lesson I learned? The power of focusing on a few things instead of trying to everything. The necessity of being able to say “no.” And eventually, the beautiful forgiveness and renewal you can find in the context of serving in a church family. (That’s quite humbling to receive too.)

** Whew!  All caught up! ...Till Wednesday :-)  **

No comments:

Post a Comment