So I'm doing my bible study and I come across this question:
How did you last respond to reproof - whether from an authority in your life, the bathroom scale, or an unbalanced checkbook?
It’s a good question to consider. The last time I spent more then I could afford, I paid for it - literally. And the last time the bathroom scale reproofed (that can't possibly be a word) me, I got so depressed about it I had to go eat some ice cream before I could possibly even consider a solution. It pretty much ended there.
Both humbling thoughts…
But it's the first part of the question that really got me thinking about the last few times someone in authority lovingly took the time to correct me. Notice the emphasis on the the word “lovingly” to clarify I am not referring to the time someone criticizes you out of turn. I am referring to the times when someone righteously rebukes you from a place of genuine caring. It's an important difference. And whoa! My answer to the question was much too obvious for comfort. I'm defensive. I really saw an ugly pattern of feeling I needed to explain myself, certain I could justify my actions if I could only make the person understand. But that's not true.
The Lord has really brought to my attention my obsessive need to defend myself. It’s not a quality from or of the Spirit. Here’s why…
Commit your way to the LORD;
trust in him and he will do this: He will make your righteous reward shine like the dawn,
your vindication like the noonday sun.
The bottom line is this: If I am walking in the light, I will have no need to be defensive. The Lord will justify my actions for me. Notice it says “He” will do it.
When I get defensive, it’s because I’m lying to myself and my actions are not above reproach. And a situation will arise where I can’t deceive myself any longer, causing me to respond with trying to convince others of the lies I have already convinced myself were true. Praise God for the Holy Spirit, who brings these things into the light. Could you imagine the depravity of your soul without His perfect work?
Everyone starts out as a fool because foolishness is bound up in the heart of a child. Our response to reproof determines whether we are hardened into permanent fools or whether we become wise women.
-Barbara K. Mouser
To neatly wrap up the point I’m trying to make, I was really pondering this analogy. When I step on the bathroom scale and it says I have gained ten pounds, this is the reality check. This is equivalent to when a dear friend (I love you, Kristen) sits you down and says, “Honey, have you been faithful to be in the word and maintain good discipline lately? Because it’s not really showing in your attitude.” Now, my first reaction to seeing the weight gain is usually this:
“I think this scale is broken.”
“I think my hair has grown a lot these past three days, and my ponytail weighs a lot”
“I think this scale usually sits on a different place on the floor, so it might just be on uneven ground.”
“This is a joke”
“I HAVE BEEN SO EMOTIONAL LATELY!”
“I shouldn’t have taken a sip of water right before I weighed myself.”
“Curse you, coffee pastries.”
“Muscle weights more then fat.”
“Seriously, this scale is whack.”
“I’m a hippo.”
“Maybe I’ll try again, the second result will be better.”
“Maybe I grew taller…”
“It’s definitely the scale.”
This is equivalent to my defensive attitude. And for the record, I could easily come up with fifty more reasons to explain the weight gain that don’t include the fact I forgot what vegetables taste like and I’m now the gym’s most valuable customer due to the fact I pay to never visit them. Anyways, whatever reasons I convince myself are true, the facts are still plain as day. I am ten pounds heavier. (Not for real, for the record. Whoa! Defensive.) And eventually I am going to have to stop lying to myself in order to solve the problem and in doing so become healthier. On a spiritual level, I think God spends a great deal of time bringing us to a point where he can break through our defenses (without breaking us), so he can show us how to become spiritually healthier. The process really kinda sucks, its giant fatty slice of humble pie (Oh pie! That sounds good.) but in the end, we become more like Christ. And that, dear reader, is the point.
I leave you with this thought:
The only difference in soot and diamonds is heat, pressure, and time. God says a wise woman is like a jewel. Her character is of great beauty and value because she had endured the heat and pressure of testing and training over time. A lady-of-wisdom is like a diamond which had formed under the pressure of reproof, discipline, and self-control. She grows in authority by learning to rule with skill in God's world. Out of her wisdom flows her ministry to others.
You know what bothers me? Well, lots of things actually. Have you ever asked someone how to spell a word and they respond by saying the word veeerrryyy slooowllly. Why?
I'll tell you what bothers me. THE RAINBOW WHEEL! It's probably the first thing you noticed when you clicked on this post. If you clenched your fists, experienced accelerated heart rates, tried to punch your little brother, signed off before you could even read this sentence, or simply started to weep... don't worry. Those reactions are normal. There are few images capable of invoking such rage on sight. I hate you, rainbow wheel.
Have you ever been on your computer, just a'clickin along when all of the sudden... BAM! Like an uninvited dinner guest, you are suddenly forced to spend minutes (potentially hours for all you know) in his company. And yes, I'm personifying the rainbow wheel as male. Why? Two reasons. One, it's always a female. Give me a break. And two, a man actually would show up to dinner uninvited.
Let me tell you why the rainbow wheel is so frustrating. He made several grand appearances on my screen yesterday so I had what felt like hours to think about this... He's frustrating because he is supposed to represent the computer "thinking" but you never actually know if it's really thinking about anything. (Like a man...hehe)
Oh hey! I know you just wanted to go back a page. I know you just wanted to download one file. I know you just wanted to delete a sentence or two. Let me think about it... but actually I'm really not doing anything, because the other fifty million times you asked me to do this I did it without hesitation. Bwaa ha ha! I can do this because I'm the rainbow wheel.
So then, you get angry. You know he just showed up to make you think the computer was doing something. So you do the inevitable. You start clicking on stuff. It never works. And then, COME ON! Now he's going to make you wait even longer because while he was trying to take his little rest you insisted on irritating him. And you will never know if the reason he "thought" so long was because of your original click or the fifty thousand clicks that followed. And I will never know if the reason it takes so long for him to realize he has outstayed his welcome is because of the first click or the fifty thousand clicks because I don't have the self-control to not click and then compare the times.
Have you ever just straight up shut your computer down the moment you saw him? I have. Because I know. I know if I don't take action immediately, he wins.
Does it ever end?
She felt it again. The feeling with many names, characterized by an aching in her chest and a sickening lurch in her stomach. She didn't fight the momentum of the acceleration of the car, letting her head fall backwards against the seat. The scenery passing at an average rate outside the window was unimpressive. The colors rushing by were faded and dull.
When does it get better?
It had been much too long since the incident to still feel the way she felt. The moment when her world shifted from pressing on to pressing in. Or perhaps it had always been that way. She didn't want to accept it as truth. She fought the acceptance of a new reality as hard as she should have fought to hold on to what was once hers. The darkness, a catalyst to a desperately late appreciation of light.
Why did this happen?
The car's wheels swallowed yard after yard, mile after mile. She contemplated answers to this question, each answer in a different language. She spoke the language of the one who sat atop the lofty tower. But the words tasted bitter in her mouth and sour to her stomach. For they had not been processed by the one who spoke them before they were taught to her. She could repeat the answers of the knowing ones word for word. But their advice chapped her soul as with a dry wind for it did not originate in the fresh springs of compassion but rather the harsh desert of carelessness. Fear of silence had spoken that particular language into existence. And there came a point when it became noise no longer heard due to overuse. She also fluently spoke in tongues of the one who reasoned. This language was circular and left her feeling somewhat comforted for a short period of time. What-ifs and how-abouts begin each sentence. She would follow as best she could until it made her dizzy in the attempt to keep pace. There was also another language. It was sweet. Too sweet. And there were times she wished she had never tasted it on her tongue. It was the language of the one who pitied. This language was easier to speak then all the others and it brought her to a place of great despair. For this language tore her in two; half of her senselessly empowered in her helplessness and half of her drowning in the knowledge she was a victim.
Did it have to be her?
A bump in the road brought her attention crashing back to her surroundings. She glanced slightly to the left. Her mind was diverted from her tortured thoughts when her eyes fell upon the driver's hands. She noted the effortless way they gripped the steering wheel, taking them to their destination almost automatically. For a brief moment she envied their confidence. Her soul was no longer certain of the right path because she knew the path she desired was far behind her. She wondered if she was purposely being led to a place where her desires no longer mattered. Her chest clenched a little tighter and aching waves crashed as recklessly as the ocean's when she realized half of her wished it to be so. Why feel so much when so much of what you feel is pain?
What is that sound?
She chanced another glance back to the driver to see if there was a witness to the tears balancing on the brims of her eyes. But there was none. Then came the voice. And this voice spoke a language she did not understand.The meaning of the words she had not yet been taught. And yet, they brought feeling into the numbness of her heart. It was a blazing fire that burned, a cool water then quenched, a soft breeze that stirred. It was too much and it was not enough. It was overwhelming yet, she wished it would never cease.
“Do not fear, for I have redeemed you;
I have summoned you by name; you are mine.
When you pass through the waters,
I will be with you;
and when you pass through the rivers,
they will not sweep over you.
When you walk through the fire,
you will not be burned;
the flames will not set you ablaze.
For I am the LORD your God,
the Holy One of Israel, your Savior."