Sunday, October 23, 2016

Learning to Lean

Thank you for praying for me and my dear family over the past few months.  Shortly after my last blog post, I underwent surgery to remove and biopsy a suspicious area in my bladder. I am overjoyed, however, to tell you that during the procedure, the area in question was nowhere to be found!  There was literally nothing, NOTHING to be removed!  Permission granted to dance happily amongst yourselves.  I may or may not have danced a jig myself.  (No, I’m not a good dancer.  But, hey, Jesus doesn’t judge my lack of dancing skills, so let's move on shall we?)

I will be seeing a kidney specialist in a couple of weeks to determine whether kidney disease is the culprit of these ongoing health concerns.  The symptoms that started five months ago are still very much present.  So, while we are rejoicing over the absence of a cancer diagnosis, we continue to wait with anticipation for answers.  Each day I’m learning to lean more and more on the grace and goodness of the Lord...trusting in His timing and His plans.  Desperately trying not to run ahead and control things myself.  I know His ways are better than my own.  And, because of that I’m so very thankful that He loves me despite myself and despite my failures in leaning on Him as often as I should.  More of Him, less of me.  I’m learning to lean.

This learning to lean thing is hard.  It’s truly a daily decision...sometimes it’s a minute by minute, or even second by second decision.  We, as a society, are so accustomed to instant gratification that any amount of waiting or not getting exactly what we want can often lead to tantrums of toddler like proportions.  Bless.  Trust me when I say I could easily be mistaken for Veruca Salt’s understudy in Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory.  And, she was a bad egg, my friends (Check it out here).  Thank God He doesn’t always give us what we want, but He is oh so faithful to meet our every need.  He saves us over and over and over again; steadying our stride and reminding us to lean.  For goodness sake, He’s the creator of the universe.  So, um, He's perfectly capable of handling the hot mess we are, no? 

From my study Bible, in the introduction to the book of Proverbs, the commentators write:

“Knowledge is good, but a vast difference stands between ‘knowledge’ (having the facts) and ‘wisdom’ (applying those facts to life).  We may amass knowledge, but without wisdom our knowledge is useless.  We must learn to live out what we know.” 

Mercy. That gets me right in the feelers.
  We can study, and even memorize the entire Bible.  We can be Bible scholars (and heaven knows there are many scholars out there who can quote the Bible from cover to cover) but, without application of what we know and learn from scripture – all we have is...knowledge. Being smart is good.  Being wise is greater.  If we aren’t applying God breathed instruction to our lives, then God's word is nothing more than a bunch of useless information floating around in our big ol’ brains.
Let me be perfectly clear here, I don’t share with you as an expert on this subject by any means.  I’m just a girl longing to serve and honor the Lord, working out her salvation each and every day.  If my sharing is helpful to you along your spiritual journey, then I am ever so thankful for the ability to share.  But, hear me when I say - Praise God His mercies are new every morning.  Cause, you guys, I need some mercy.  For reals.  I can’t even tell you how many times, in the last week alone, I have laid down my crown at the feet of Jesus just to pick it back up again seconds later. 

The Lord has proven Himself faithful time and time again in my life.  I could talk till I’m blue in the face of His providence.  I have no reason to doubt Him.  I know His plans are best, but living out what I know...sigh.  That’s where the rubber hits the road, and I’m like a teenager learning to drive.  Jesus take the wheel.  Each day I’m learning to loosen my grip on my own agendas, my friends, food (props to Reese’s peanut butter cups), music, retail name it - whatever or whomever I’m leaning on for temporary satisfaction and security in place of the One who grants eternal satisfaction and security.  I’m learning...learning to lean on Jesus. 

Running after instant gratification is such an easy takes us off of the perfect, individualized path God has designed just for each and every one of us. And, it’s a trap that I (and I pray you do too) know better than to fall into. The more aware we are of the traps and snares, the greater chance we have of avoiding them in the future. I liken this to my boys’ math homework. Todd and I require the boys do their homework as soon as they get home from school.  It has to be done before they can watch TV, get on the X-box, or whatever else their little hearts desire. I can’t tell you the number of times I have graded their math homework and found careless mistakes. They know most of the answers, but make errors because they aren’t focused on their work. Instead they are in a hurry to get that temporary high of playing games or watching a show. So, they rush to the finish line and end up getting off track – only to find they saved no time at all and have to go back and correct mistakes that shouldn’t have been made in the first place (at which point whining ensues on their end...and mine. Algebra gives mama a headache). 

Slow and steady wins the race, but often we are too concerned with satisfying our desires that we run ahead and end up taking a detour down the wrong path, tripping over ourselves along the way. Have I mentioned I trip a lot? In the hurdles of life, we find success, joy and peace when we lay aside our own plans and expectations—and surrender to His. His pace. His path. His answers. His plans.

The wisest man who ever lived, Solomon, wrote the book of Proverbs. He also wrote the books of Ecclesiastes, and the Song of Solomon. In these books, Solomon shares his wisdom with readers. But, Solomon wasn’t wise by his own merits or doing – his wisdom came from the Lord. Solomon literally prayed for it, and God, in His great faithfulness, granted it to him (2 Chronicles 1:7-12).

In Proverbs 1:7 (NIV), Solomon wrote, “The fear of the Lord is the beginning of knowledge, but fools despise wisdom and instruction.”  Knowledge is plentiful.  But, wisdom, wisdom is scarce.  Wisdom requires putting into practice what we know, not just taking charge and running full steam ahead.  Everyone is looking for a source of strength.  We can choose to lean on ourselves, on others, on things, or...we can lean on the everlasting arms of Jesus.

Our human understanding always limits God. Learning to lean on Jesus - to depend, rely, and rest on him is a crucial part of our spiritual journey. May we seek His wisdom as we run with endurance the race He has set before us.
“Trust in the Lord with all your heart; and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways submit to Him, and He will make your paths straight.”  -Proverbs 3:5, 6 (NIV)

I'm learning to lean.