You’ve heard the story about the little girl who asked her momma why they always cut the end off the Christmas ham, right? No? Well, she asked, and her momma said, “Because that’s the way grandma taught me.” So the little girl goes to her grandma and asks why they cut the end off the ham, and the grandma replies, “Because that’s the way my momma taught me to do it.” So the little girl asks her great-grandma why they always cut the end off the ham, and great-grandma answers, “I have no idea why your grandma and your momma cut the end off their hams. I did it because my pan was too short.”
It’s easy to let ourselves get stuck in a mental rut (perhaps that’s what those weird wrinkles are on our brains), plodding along on the same limited course day after day. We get a certain idea in our heads about how things are going to go, and then we’re frightened, frustrated, and disappointed when circumstances change.
If you suffered through my whiny Christmas post last week (I apologize, by the way), you got an ugly picture of that kind of blockheaded thinking. I felt trapped in a circumstantial snare, helpless and without options, like a fly in a web, just waiting for the spider to come and finish me off.
|Don’t you love how our Bible story
pictures are full of white guys?
I ended up in 2 Chronicles 20. According to the story, the people of Judah were facing imminent destruction at the hands of three armies. King Jehoshaphat, the Bible says, “feared, and set himself to seek the Lord…” He then prayed what might be one of the greatest prayers of faith in the whole Bible.
“O our God, will You not judge them? For we have no power against this great multitude that is coming against us; nor do we know what to do, but our eyes are upon You.” That’s right, it’s perfectly all right to go to God and say, “I have no idea what to do, but I trust You, Lord.” God responded to Jehoshaphat’s prayer through one of His prophets, saying, “…Position yourselves, stand still and see the salvation of the Lord, who is with you.”
If an attacking army is headed your way, and you are more or less defenseless, isn’t running away, or at least ducking into a hidey-hole the sensible thing to do? There’s the rub. The sensible thing (the one possibility we see with our limited knowledge and ability) is not the only possible solution, it’s just the only one you can see at the moment. I was watching my SIL play video games the other day, and it occurred to me that until you’ve played the game a few times you don’t know all the tricks and turns and possibilities. In fact, today’s games are so complex that the possibilities for action and reaction are almost limitless. I find it intimidating, but I’m from the Pac-Man generation: one screen, one character, a few bad guys, and only four directions to choose from.
How many of us are living our lives in that Pong/Pac-Man/Space Invaders kind of thinking, when we serve a completely limitless, endless-possibility kind of Lord and Savior?
Anyway, back to our story … In response to the instructions from the prophet, Jehoshaphat did something completely bizarre. He took his praise and worship team and put them out on the front lines. (He had to have had some really, really, loyal and trusting music ministers.) And when they began to sing and praise “the Lord set ambushes against the people … who had come against Judah; and they were defeated.”
Having endured a few middle school band concerts and an opera or two, I can imagine the kind of music that would wipe out an entire army, but I don’t think it was the music that took out the opposition. It was the POSITION they took of trust and praise in God and not trust in themselves or their weapons or their prowess with the sword and bow that gave them the victory.
The enemy of our souls sends his threats and his lies to terrorize us, circumstances come up in our faces because of the broken world in which we live, we make foolish mistakes and fall in holes of our own design, and we can see no way out, no way of escape. Ever been there?
THIS (above) is not the answer.
For some, tragically, the despair and hopelessness becomes so great they choose any way out they can find. Others run like scared rabbits. Some folks just freeze up and stop functioning. Others lash out in fury at anyone and anything in their path. The temptation is great, but the results are lousy.
Let’s encourage one another, especially our friends and acquaintances and loved ones who are discouraged and frustrated by the mountains, or the advancing army, or the Red Seas in front of them, to keep our eyes and hearts and minds open to fresh ways of thinking and acting, new instructions (or old ones you haven’t obeyed) to follow, even when those ideas seem contrary to the way we’ve always done things. Instead, tune in to that still, small voice in your spirit. I believe He’s saying something to those facing apparently impossible situations:
“Don’t panic, just trust Me. There’s more than one way to skin this (proverbial) cat.”