Sunday, September 24, 2006
One day Balaam was on his way to take care of some business he thought was important. As he made his way there, the donkey he was riding suddenly stopped. Balaam nudged him onward, but the donkey wouldn't move. He kicked him harder and the donkey still wouldn't budge. Finally Balaam tore into the donkey, showing him no mercy.
It was at that point that the donkey turned around and spoke to him, asking "What's your problem, man? Have I ever acted this way before? Get a clue. There's a reason this is happening." Okay, maybe he didn't say those exact words, but it was something like that.
As I recently read this story again, it made me think of my own frustrations with "smart donkeys" (if you use the King James Version, it reads differently), I sometimes encounter in my own life. Sometimes I find myself growing impatient with people's behavior in certain situations - the things they might say or do or not do.
Recently I had an experience where somebody didn't do something that I thought they were supposed to do. I felt frustrated at first, then felt myself becoming agitated about their failure to do what I thought needed to be done. Then I read the story of Balaam again.
God can use the stubborness or even the irresponsibility of other people to make sure we stay on the right path. If Balaam had been allowed to go on with his plan, he would have died in the process. God used a donkey to stop him.
So the next time you have to deal with a "smart donkey" who won't do what they're supposed to do, don't be so quick to judge. It may be that God is using their action to ensure that you don't do what you aren't supposed to do and that instead you walk the path He has planned for you. "Smart donkeys" can be frustrating, but even they are tools in the hands of our Sovereign Lord.
Saturday, September 16, 2006
Something that the Holy Spirit is teaching me lately has to do with the importance of choosing how to interpret the circumstances of life. In my August 25 blog (A Matter or Perspective), I wrote about how I was growing in my understanding of how our focus on a situation will greatly affect the way we respond to it. It was a picture that spoke to me then. (It’s the one of the old/young lady that I posted with that entry.)
I’ve recently come across something else that God is using to reiterate this point. It works this way for me often – the Lord has to tell me something several times in various ways to cause it to penetrate my thick skull. Anyway, the message comes to me again now through a scene C.S. Lewis describes in Until We Have Faces.
Lewis tells the story of two sisters – Orual and Psyche, who are princesses in the Kingdom of Glome. To get to the point that spoke to me in the story – everything is going well until the Priest of the goddess Ungit comes to the king to tell him that Psyche must be sacrificed to the goddess. Psyche is drugged and chained to the sacred tree, where she is left to be eaten by the Shadowbrute.
A few days later, Orual returns to the tree to give her sister’s bones a proper burial. When she arrives, Psyche’s bones are nowhere to be found. She wanders over to the river, crying, when she looks up to see Psyche standing on the other side of the river. Orual is shocked. She doesn’t know what to think. How is it possible? She knows that Psyche is dead. How can this be true?
Orual crosses the river and she and Psyche embrace. Psyche then tells her sister the story of how the god of the west wind saved her from the shadowbrute and brought her to his palace to be his bride. Orual think Psyche has lost her mind. To humor her, she listens to Psyche’s story as if she believes it.
Psyche leads Orual a short distance away to sit in the heather. There she serves a glass of wine to Oural – the choicest of wine in an exquisite goblet. She asks Orual if she likes the goblet and the wine. Orual goes along with her and nods, but what she actually sees is her sister cupping her hands in a pool of water. She is sure Psyche has lost her mind.
Psyche goes on to tell Orual stories of gods and palaces and how she wears the most beautiful gowns. Orual sees no palace, only woods. No gowns, only Psyche dressed in rags. After awhile she can bear it no longer and demands that her sister show her the palace.
Orual is dumbfounded when her sister nods with a smile and says, “Of course I will. Let us go in.” Orual asks, “Is it far?” “Far to where?” Psyche responds. “To the palace,” Orual shouts, “to your god’s house!”
Psyche starts to tremble. “Orual, what do you mean, is it far?” “Mean?” Orual asks. “Where is the palace? How far have we to go to reach it?” Psyche starts to cry. Through her tears and cries, she stares into Orual’s eyes and answers, “But this is it, Orual! Can’t you see it? You are standing on the stairs to the great gate!”
Two people in the same situation. One saw a palace. The other saw only trees. One tasted expensive wine while the other tasted only water. One saw a beautiful gown. The other saw rags. One saw great pillars at a palace entryway. The other saw only trees.
Orual was right on the steps of the palace, but she couldn’t see it. Her perspective was skewed by a faulty paradigm. What Psyche saw was real, but Orual just couldn’t see it.
Faith doesn’t create anything. It simply sees what is there. It looks beyond superficial senses and sees supernatural reality. I wonder how many times I taste brackish water when I've been given fine wine; how often I see stumps instead of ivory pillars; how often do I see rags when I've been given riches? I certainly want to continue to grow in this area of the grace walk. It would make the awareness of victory in life’s circumstances so much more real.
Friday, September 01, 2006
Last night we watched this movie with Queen Latifah. Melanie picked it out and brought it home. It wouldn't have been my pick, but I was pleasantly surprised. The movie actually has a positive message that anybody would benefit from who takes it to heart.
Georgia Byrd, the lead role played by Queen Latifah, is working a dead end job as a sales clerk, when she is told by her doctor that she has a rare disease and only has three weeks to live. She immediately confronts her heavy handed boss, quits her job, cashes in her savings and IRA and leaves for her dream vacation.
She goes to the Grandhotel Pupp in the spa city of Karlovy Vary, Czech Republic. There, Georgia makes extensive use of the hotel's spa. She attempts snowboarding and base jumping off of a dam, enjoys succulent meals prepared by the world-renowned Chef Didier, occupies the presidential suite, and otherwise enjoys herself.
She wins over the hotel's staff with her direct manner and kindness, with the exception of the cantankerous floor valet Miss Gunther, who eventually becomes a friend too. She meets Matthew Kragen (Timothy Hutton), the businessman who owns the store where she worked. Also at the resort are his assistant/mistress Ms. Burns, a pandering Louisiana senator, and a prominent congressman.
Since she is dying anyway, she speaks the truth to each of these people, helping them in the process. She comes out of her shell and lives life to the fullest.
In the end , Georgia finds out that the machine used to test her at the hospital was broken and that she is, in fact, not dying. The movie ends with her opening her own restaurant, a lifelong dream.
Tracy Allerton of the South Florida Sun-Sentinel reviewed the movie and said, "Almost makes you want to cash in your IRA and live it up." I agree. The strength of this movie is that it shows how much we all allow fear to hold us back in life. It encourages the viewer to live every day as if we only had three weeks to live.
Fear was the immediate result of man's fall in the garden of Eden. "I heard your voice and I was afraid, so I hid myself," Adam said. Mankind has been doing that every since then. If God is Sovereign and He does indeed love us, why don't we live more boldly? That's what I want to do, don't you? Let's do it.