Sand in My Eyes

30 Aug

What is there about someone falling in front of us that makes us laugh? Oh, we might check to see if they’re injured, but if they’re not hurt, we chuckle or explode into giggles.

Comedians like Dick Van Dyke made pratfall humor famous! (But most of us don’t get paid to humiliate ourselves for a laugh.)

One of my most embarrassing moments was at the Michigan sand dunes. When the wind picked up, blowing sand into SandInMyEyes_LOL_Framedmy eyes, I couldn’t see for a few moments.

Instead of being sensible and standing in place until my vision cleared, I walked forward – mummy-like – toward my friends. Or at least, I thought they were my friends.

I ended up falling over a cement bench, bending forward into something of a somersault. I landed on my rear end. A perfect pratfall.

Friends and others nearby rushed to my side, concerned. But then they started laughing.

“That was great!” one said. (Ha, ha, ha.)

“You did that with such grace,” another added. “We should sign you up for the circus.” (Ha, ha, ha.)

Humiliated, I asked for water to help clear my eyes of remaining sand. My hair and clothes were filled with sand too.

“Maybe we should nickname you ‘Sandy,'” a friend suggested.

I only suffered a few bruises, but the joke lived on for years.

Have you ever noticed that our spiritual eyes can fill up with things that don’t belong there? Believe me, when that happens we can “fall” into embarrassing, even hurtful situations.

I’ve been thinking about spiritual blindness. The Bible speaks of those who do not know the Lord as being “blind” (2 Corinthians 4:4). The famous hymn, “Amazing Grace,” says: “I once was was lost, but now I’m found, was blind but now I see.” God wants to open unbelievers’ eyes (Acts 26:18).

But it’s not just unbelievers who have a blind-eye issue.

Though their eyes have been opened, God’s children can sometimes live as though they’re blind.

2 Peter 1:3-7 explains some qualities (or virtues) that believers should exhibit in their lives as partakers in the divine nature; these are qualities that will make us useful for the Kingdom of God.

But verse 9 says, “… whoever lacks these qualities is so nearsighted that he is blind, having FORGOTTEN  that he was cleansed from his former sins.”

The “nearsightedness” Peter is talking about may mean that when we lack these virtues in our lives, we can only see earthly things. We aren’t focusing on eternal truths and values. We don’t see the spiritual realities of the unseen world. Our perspective is cloudy. We don’t see far off to our heavenly King. And when we fail to focus on Him and what He has done for us, we act like we are spiritually blind.

What cause did Peter offer for this blindness? He said we “forget” what Jesus did on the cross and in His resurrection to cleanse us from our sins.

We who have the light of Christ need to live in that light … to walk in the light (Ephesians 5:7-9). In other words, we need to remember the cross, remember the power of Jesus’ resurrection. Every single day.

I’ve thought about what kind of “sand” might blind me to the power of the Gospel in my everyday life.

This S-A-N-D includes:

S – Stubbornness and Sinful Habits that get in the way

Stubbornness is a serious offense against God (Jeremiah 7:24). He wants His people to fear Him, love Him, and obey and serve Him completely with a cheerful heart (Deuteronomy 10:12-13; 1 John 5:3).

Also, when we cherish sinful habits or addictions, we exhibit a spirit of rebellion against God. Why should He show us more light, more truth, if we refuse to obey Him? Luke 6:46 challenges us – Why do we call Him “Lord” when we are unwilling to do what He says?

Jamieson-Fausset-Brown’s Bible Commentary says (of 1 Peter 1:9), there may even be “a degree of wilfulness in the blindness” (implied in the Greek) with “closing the eyes.” Sometimes even Christians can rebel against the light shining around them.

A – Attitudes and Affections that don’t please the Lord

1 Peter 1:3-7 lists some of the attitudes we should have as believers. But too many of us display exactly the opposite attitudes: impatience, ungodliness, selfishness, etc. How interesting that Peter says, “… if you practice these things [the positive virtues/attitudes], you will never fall.” (To push my analogy a bit … unlike the sand in the eyes that causes us to stumble, clear vision of what Jesus has done for us encourages a steady walk with God.)

Also, what do we love? Do we love anyone or anything more than God? We must love Him with our entire being (Matthew 22:37-38). He is a “jealous” God – deeply desiring our love and worship (Exodus 34:14), which is entirely His due.

N – Negativity and “Neediness” that hinder progress

If we are an “I’m ag’in it” sort of Christian, always focusing on the negative, it’s hard to move forward into opportunities for ministry. Perhaps our negativity comes from focusing on the splinter in others’ eyes while excusing the log in our own eyes (Matthew 7:3-5).

We all have needs, and the Lord is more than sufficient to meet our needs (Philippians 4:19; 2 Corinthians 12:9), but when we are “needy” in the sense that it’s all about us (only focusing on our needs), our selfishness stunts our usefulness. God wants us to love, encourage and serve others and we are, ultimately, to do it all for Him (Matthew 25:40).

D – Double-mindedness and Deceit that keep us in the dark

A double-minded Christian will be unstable, stumbling around in confusion (James 1:8); cp. Psalm 112:5-8). A single-minded person is stable and established, discerning and mature.

And lying to ourselves is as serious as lying to others (Ephesians 4:25), because it influences our walk with Christ. We must fill our minds and counsel our hearts with God’s truth (an example: Psalm 42:5). We are to walk in truth (Psalm 86:11; 3 John 1:4).

I’m sure there are many other ways Christians can act as though they are blind. 

Can you think of any “sand” that gets in our eyes, impeding our walk in love, truth and wisdom?

- Dawn

 

When You ‘Don’t Know Beans’

16 Aug

Some of the folklore surrounding one of the more “delicate” circumstances during NASA flights is that Astronauts are not allowed to eat beans before they go into space. The supposed theory was that beans cause “gas,” and passing wind in a space suit would damage the suit. 

Although many find this idea humorous, it’s entirely untrue. Although astronauts are put on a “low residue diet” three days before their flight, they are not prohibited from eating beans. And passing wind will not damage space suits.

“If gas could damage a space suit,” one source said, “there’s be a lot more astronaut fatalities.” *

So if YOU believed that – you don’t know beans!

DoYouKnowBeans_aboutGodI wondered where that phrase came from, and discovered the phrase apparently originated in a riddle told in old country stores. The question was asked, “How many blue beans does it take to make seven white beans?” Those who didn’t know the answer were told, “You don’t know beans!” (The answer is, seven blue make seven white, because when you peel the blue beans, you get white beans.) **

Today, the phrase “you don’t know beans” refers to people who don’t know something that should be common knowledge or common sense.

There was a time I “didn’t know beans” about God’s true nature. Sometimes I thought He was an old grandfatherly figure, loving but basically powerless. Other times, I considered Him an angry tyrant.

It took me years to understand God is great, good, loving, everywhere present, all-knowing, all-powerful, kind, involved, just, sovereign, purposeful, wise …. in short, He was nothing like I imagined.

The reason I didn’t know “beans” about God’s nature for so long was simple. I didn’t know God’s Word. I allowed the imaginations of my own heart and the weaknesses of my own thinking – plus the philosophies of this world – to corrupt my perception of the true nature of God.

It’s crucial we study the scriptures, because the Word of God – as well as His creation – reveal much about Him.

No, we can’t know everything about Him. As many have noted, He is God and we are not. In ourselves, we cannot think or act like Him (Isaiah 55:8). But there’s no excuse to be ignorant about His basic nature and how He deals with humanity.

The truth is:

  • Our thinking must be transformed through the Word (Romans 12:1-2).
  • God tells us our only reason for boasting must be that we “understand” and “know” Him (Jeremiah 9:23-24).
  • Jesus wants us to know His Father (John 17:1), and His love in us allows us to know God (1 John 4:6-7).
  • Jesus’ disciple, Peter, tells us to grow in the knowledge of Jesus, God’s Son (2 Peter 3:18).

So there might be a lot of things we “don’t know beans” about – but knowing God doesn’t have to be one of them! He is ready and eager to reveal Himself to us, but we need to seek Him! (Psalm 119:10a).

What has God shown you about Himself this week?

- Dawn

* http://www.superkids.com/aweb/pages/humor/042207.sht

** http://www.brownielocks.com/wordorigins.html

 

The Buddy System

1 Aug

As a young mom of two boys, I often wondered why socks were missing. Now I know …

I saw a funny comic by comic artist Lonnie Easterling. Matched sets of socks approached an open washing machine. On the wall behind the machine was a sign that read, “Field Trip Today!”

The first set of socks looked back over the group and said, “Okay! Everyone remember the Buddy System!”

LOL.

When my in-laws and I went on vacation last year, we left our dogs at a kennel … together. They are doggie buddies and loved their time together. BuddiesAt the window_2013

Beau, a chihuahua-terrier mix, and my maltipoo, Roscoe, have been buddies since puppyhood, and they still love to get together for a few days. When Beau stays for a while at the “Wilson Doggie Resort,” these pals are inseparable.

This photo shows them sharing the platform by my desk, peering through the screen, under the blinds, to see who might be passing by.

For better or worse, they lead each other into all sorts of escapades.

Buddies can do that. That’s why the Bible tells us to choose our friends carefully (Proverbs 12:26). Wrong buddies can lead us astray

When I lived in Iceland as a teen, there were days that got “blizzardy,” and we were told not to venture out into the snow alone. “Take a buddy with you,” I heard. “If you fall into a deep drift, your friend can help you get out … or if you fall in together, you can stay warm until help arrives.”

Now I never knew whether to take that “buddy system” advice seriously, but the concept sure did stick.  And later I found out it’s biblical. Ecclesiastes 4:9-11 says,Two are better than one, because they have a good reward for their toil. For if they fall, one will lift up his fellow. But woe to him who is alone when he falls and has not another to lift him up! Again, if two lie together, they keep warm, but how can one keep warm alone?”

We need buddies for the tough times. They can help us, or they can at least comfort us until the tough times pass.

The biblical patriarch Job didn’t have comforting buddies. Oh, they wailed with him over his circumstances, but I don’t remember too many encouraging words. And his wife didn’t help much either. (Of course, I was reminded she went through those trials with Job too — many of the same losses!) I would hope that Job, being the spiritual leader of the family, could counsel her with the same counsel he ended up giving his own heart.

But I know I need “buddies.”

I didn’t always believe that. I was pretty self-sufficient.

I thought I’d only need buddies for hard times. I didn’t have a clue.

I didn’t realize I need buddies for growth, challenge, accountability, encouragement, vision and a whole lot of other positive things.

We were never meant to exist or function alone. God knew Adam needed a partner (Genesis 2:18). And He knows we need buddies (I call them my Sister-Girlfriends); we were created for community. The Bible says the disciples were sent out in twos (Mark 6:7; Luke 10:1). Probably for encouragement, but also because they likely had different gifts and skill sets!

I don’t consider God my “Buddy,” as many Christians do. No, he is my Father God – the Sovereign Ruler who loves me. But one of the truths I learned later in life is the concept of the strength of a “threefold cord” (Ecclesiastes 4:12). While this may be talking about a third person coming alongside to help two people, I also like to think that the Lord is the third partner. He is the partner in my marriage – the glue that made my Bob and I stick together in tough times. He is also the partner in many of my other relationships.

Yes, I need people. I don’t want to do life alone. And I don’t have to. My Father God is always with me (Deuteronomy 31:6; Isaiah 41:10; Matthew 28:20; Hebrews 13:5b; 1 Corinthians 3:16). I have the privilege to live for Him and bring Him glory – to live for His purposes – but it’s wonderful to know He cares about my needs too.

Knowing Him beats the Buddy System any day.

Who is your best earthly buddy? Have you told your buddy lately how thankful you are for her (or him)? Have you thanked the Lord today for His constant presence in your life?

- Dawn

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