Something that truly amazes me about the bible is that no matter how many times I have read a passage, depending on the phase in my life, it is literally like reading it for the first time! A new understanding... a new set of eyes. I think this is why I do my best to be cautious in my "convictions" because to be too sure of my own understanding of scripture would be to deprive myself of the humility and willingness to find out I may have misunderstood!
And while it is critical to move ahead in our faith walk in just that... faith... I think too many of us believe that we must tread along with such unyielding convictions that we become blind to the wholeness of His Truth.
Duane and I have this debate all the time. For him, he has to plow ahead full force... 110% power and conviction... full speed ahead, so to speak. And while that is certainly commendable on many fronts, I argue with him that this can also be dangerous... what if you're wrong? Do you want to be plowing ahead at such speed and with such force that you miss the opportunities to see where you need to correct yourself or re-align with His Truth?
Yet there can be danger in being too relaxed about your faith, too. Perhaps the fear of getting it wrong in the first place prevents you from delving further! And while the convinced move ahead (whether in the right or wrong direction) you risk floating in a stagnant state of unknowing... and that can't give you life, either.
And then I have to ask myself, is there such a thing as the "wrong direction"?
I reflect on my past "mistakes", for instance, and had I isolated each incident to judge whether or not my decisions in that moment were leading me in the wrong direction, I would have to say "yes." HOWEVER, in the overall big picture, those mistakes played a key role in reaching greater depths of understanding of mercy, grace and forgiveness. What appeared to be the wrong direction ended up leading me straight to God in the end!
Does this mean you have to go punch someone in the teeth in order to understand what it means to be forgiven? NO! But for someone like me who unfortunately needs to "experience" truth before it fully registers, often times it did take touching a burning flame to find out it burns despite everyone around me saying "hey, fire burns!" Perhaps there is far more than meets the eye when it comes to those around us who seem to be headed in the "wrong direction".
My eldest brother has struggled with alcoholism for the last twenty-five years and it has been a heart-wrenching process of watching him get burned over and over and over again. Not only to see his pain but the ripple effect that bleeds into his children's lives, my parent's lives and even us siblings who just want to see him well and happy.
This has often revealed my own weakness of faith when I have become angry with him. Judgement creeps in and I catch my unforgiving thoughts accusing him of causing pain, misery, etc... And yet it dawns on me in moments of prayer, that God has granted my brother a far greater opportunity to bring Him glory than I ever could!
Just imagine if that glorious day of healing comes to my brother... how glorious would that Light be after living in such darkness for so many years? It would be positively BLINDING! The awe he would experience, the humility that would bring him to his knees would far exceed my level of experience to praise God as he would be equipped to in that moment! And here I am angry with him for his life path forgetting that there is a greater picture here... that there is God's will involved here... and the outcome could be positively breathtaking!
So on this Sabbath, from our Vaags household, I reach out to you with this awareness hoping that you, too, can choose a new set of eyes to "see" God's work in those around you whom cause you grief or with whom you cannot understand why they spiral downwards to depths of self-destruction. I know it is too naive of me to assume that all will have a miraculous moment of healing, but I think it is real to believe that God's will is working even in those situations we understand least.
And finally I leave you with a biblical quote from Ephesians 6:10-17 that lead me to this post in the first place (which has taken a path I was not quite expecting). I have bolded the points that struck me the most and pray that it brings to you a sense of empowerment that it did for me.
God bless you all out there in your own walk knowing that whatever direction you are headed, I am glad you are not stagnant and that every foot in front of the other is leading you to where you are meant to be! And be "equipped" in the ways you least expected... in faith, in TRUTH (with yourself and finally those around you), in peace, salvation and the gloriously powerful word of God (in all its mystery and complex ways it reaches you at the many different stages of your life). And may humility bless you with open arms to receive growth from your willingness to find out where you may be wrong... and to do something about it. Much love to you all out there!!
"Finally, be strong in the Lord and in His mighty power. Put on the full armor of God so that you can take your stand against the devil's schemes. For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms. Therefore put on the full armor of God, so that when the day of evil comes, you may be able to stand your ground, and after you have done everything, to stand. Stand firm then, with the belt of truth buckled around your waist, with the breastplate of righteousness in place, and with your feet fitted with the readiness that comes from the gospel of peace. In addition to all this, take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming arrows of the evil one. Take the helmet of salvation and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God."