Stubborn?? Me????? NO way…
I’ve been struggling for some time with the concept of growing spiritually… how do I do it? I mean, I know that being in the Word on a regular basis is an important step… that Book is magnificent! I mean… it really does have something to say about every aspect of life. I’m an auditory learner, so I enjoy downloading content I can learn from that is specific to a particular issue. Existing in the technology age has tremendous benefits for me; downloading messages and sermons so they exist in the ‘cloud’ allows me to listen anytime I want from my computer or my cell phone. In 2013, there is certainly no lack of material to grow spiritually and to change our hearts, and yet, there is still something keeping me from full access to God’s voice into my soul, but what is it?
Years ago, while listing to an audio book by Stephen Covey, I learned of an interaction between a ship’s captain and seaman that was life changing… the story went something like this… While on maneuvers, a battleship lookout noted a light in the dark, foggy night. After noting the light’s coordinates, the captain recognized his ship was on a collision course with the other vessel. The captain instructed, “Signal the ship: We are on a collision course, advise you change course 20 degrees.” The return signal countered, “Advisable for you to change course 20 degrees.” The captain signaled, “I’m a captain, change course 20 degrees.” The response was, “I’m a seaman second class, you’d better change course 20 degrees.” By this time the captain was furious. His signal curtly ordered, “I’m a battleship. Change course 20 degrees, immediately!” The reply: “I’m a lighthouse. You make the call.”
Is it possible that like the captain of the battleship, I believe that I can control and handle all of my problems on my own and don’t need to heed to anything or anyone? Is the problem really… me? I’ve examined this more in the last several years and I’m not liking what I see. My Dad taught me a long time ago that a man does things for himself… you don’t ask for help… you just dig in and do what you need to do. If I could speak with my Dad today, I would respectfully tell my Dad that he was wrong… that through a relationship with Christ, there is no shame in seeking Him as a model to aspire to in all things and to be there, without fail, to hear and bless us. It has been said that God doesn’t give us more than we can handle… I don’t agree… I believe God gives us more than we can handle so we must turn to Him instead of relying on ourselves.
In his views on learning in the 21st century, Allen Toffler has often been quoted as stating that “[t]he illiterate of the 21st century will not be those who cannot read and write, but those who cannot learn, unlearn, and relearn.” Perhaps the take away from this quote from a Christian perspective is that regardless of how we were all raised, in order to grow in Christ, we need to make some adjustments to learn a different way to live… to include Christ in ALL things of our lives, good or bad. Because, like the lighthouse we just read about, God’s authority is never changing, it’s always constant (Hab.1:12; 1John5:20). Whenever a change of course is required, it is I must make the correction from my end.
The Captain in the story was stubborn, but he certainly hasn’t cornered the market on stubbornness. There are times when stubbornness is a good thing, like being the breadwinner in the home or a care taker protecting their children from wrong influences. However, more often than not, our stubbornness can cause a plethora of other problems, especially when our stubbornness is directed towards God and how He wants His children to live their lives.
So… how do we get over ourselves with the goal of increasing the pathway to our Lord and Savior? 2 Chronicles 6:12-42 offers some guidelines which will help us to consider the ‘lighthouse’ more than ourselves on the deck of our own lives… starting with humility (2 Chronicles 6:12-13). God’s Word speaks of humility being the key to acceptance by God (Micah 6:8). And as we are called to act like Christ, humbling ourselves in the presence of others is a start towards heart change. Honoring Him (2 Chronicles 6:12-13) has the effect of redirecting our focus on God and remembering who He is… He is Lord (Luke 6:46; Luke 20:44), He is God (John 20:28), He is Lord of the Church (Col. 1:18), He is faithful (Heb. 10:23), and He is merciful (Ps. 118:1). Through God’s promises (2 Chronicles 6:16-18), we have the opportunity to reflect on His fulfilled and yet to be fulfilled promises; for whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved (Rom. 10:13). Lastly, we should whole-heartedly seek God in all things for revival through prayer (2 Chronicles 6:19-21) as it pleases God when we seek Him and pour ourselves out to Him (Ps. 126:5). Seeking our Father, with all our hearts allows restoration to begin (2 Chronicles 6:22-42).
Lord… help me to unlearn what I needed to learn to survive… to mark my checklist of religious rituals. Sweet Jesus, please stand by my side during this process of relearning how to live life with You in it… always… not just when things are going as I believe them to be going. You are my lighthouse, my rock I want to fixate on, because like the lighthouse, you are steady and provide comfort to those that are lost. Break me of all stubbornness and from being prideful… Amen!