Roll Up Your Sleeves...

Roll up your sleeves, this entry deals with down-to-earth things. Not long ago I wrote a rant about Charlie Brown getting rocks again at Halloween. What jogged that entry was a letter written by Jim Reynolds. Jim writes a series called

I asked his permission to post that letter here, and he gave it. I put the subscription information at the bottom in case you're interested in receiving his letters by e-mail. This particular one focuses on how we can get stuck in going through the motions of walking with God but not having our actions pouring from our hearts. Anyway, these are my thoughts for the day. Well, actually, they're Jim's thoughts. ;-) But sometimes the best thing we can do is to "share a letter" we received that was encouraging.

Another Short, but maybe not so Simple, Lesson
Several weeks ago, Deanna and I were in the office together, researching something on the computer. It was raining outside… nothing serious, just a nice, heavy downpour, with an occasional wink of lightning and the distant roar of thunder. Then someone shot off a cannon in our backyard – or at least that’s what it sounded like. After recovering my heart from the ceiling, I raised the shade, expecting to see a civil war re-enactment or at least something on fire. But it was just rain. We knew lightning had hit and that it was close, but with a million other things to do, the whole episode was quickly forgotten. A few days later, one of the older men in our church took me into the backyard and showed me the damage I had missed. The bark had been stripped from the large pecan tree outside my office window. You can clearly see where lightning struck the top of the tree and then apparently engulfed it, fingering around individual branches and searing off tendrils of bark. All the way to the roots that snake along the surface of the ground, soft, light-colored wood is now exposed and bits of tree skin litter the yard in all directions. It made quite an impression on me… especially when God used it to remind me of something.
If you’ll remember, I had the opportunity to go on a self-made sabbatical. On the way, I used my “windshield time” to pray and reflect on my life. The sky was a gloomy gray and I told God that I had been feeling just like that. Holy Spirit reminded me that the promise of clouds is rain. It was a comforting thought as God has used rain many times in my life; it symbolizes His deepest dreams for me… my destiny, my future. The problem was the clouds I was driving under were never going to produce rain; the “promise” was not going to be fulfilled. Holy Spirit then asked me, “Why don’t some clouds produce rain?” My first answer, discussed in last week’s letter, was that there wasn’t enough moisture. Likewise, I had somehow allowed “stuff” to crowd out the Presence of God in my life. I wasn’t making room for Him. There wasn’t enough “moisture” in my atmosphere… in my environment… for Him to provide the promised rain of blessing.
But something else is necessary for rain as well… especially for a storm that can produce the kind of power that temporarily reduced our muscles to jelly and left one of the strongest trees in our backyard marked for life. If I’m remembering my fifth grade science correctly, energy is required to produce rain. In fact, as I recall, once the process starts, it builds on itself, causing the cloud to stretch higher and higher into the atmosphere, producing stronger and stronger thunderstorms. A storm feeds on itself in a sense.
When we get caught in that place I described last time, where we’re still working for God, but not truly with Him… when we’re busy, but with little sense of divine purpose and presence, it can often become unconscious habit. In other words, we quite literally miss the fact that we’re missing Him. And then we keep plodding along… unknowingly digging ourselves a deeper trench. I’ve told a couple of people recently that I needed help overcoming the inertia of my own environment. What I was saying (without yet knowing I was saying it) was that I was digging such a trench. Objects at rest tend to stay at rest; people who are struggling – especially if they can’t pinpoint the why or if they remain ignorant of it – tend to continue to struggle. I was. Captured by bad habits I didn’t recognize as such, the life was seeping from me. And the “inertia” of standing still was draining me as well. Maybe an illustration would help: it sounds like one of those apocryphal stories that preachers tell, but my preacher friend swears this story is true. He used to work with a fellow who would peer in his lunch sack quite often and sigh plaintively. “Baloney again,” he muttered. One day my friend decided to ask him the obvious: “Why don’t you ask your wife or mom or whoever’s making your lunch to give you something different?” The man replied, “I make my own.” The condition I found myself in was a direct result of the habits I had formed… the mind-set I had embraced… the attitude I had grown comfortable with. Negative thought was feeding negative action and negative action was feeding negative thought. I realized in the car – and it was reinforced during my sabbatical – that I was “making my own baloney.”
All of the above… that entire thought process (and more that I won’t even try to describe) was injected into my heart by Holy Spirit as I said the word, “energy. Energy is necessary for rain.” That was when Holy Spirit reminded me of the other side of inertia: objects in motion tend to stay in motion. Carving out a space for God… putting “moisture” back into my atmosphere was the first step. But the more I was able to do that… the more genuine prayer I put into some kind of dreaded project… the more I chose to stay on task – undistracted, undivided – the more “energy” would build. I was allowing myself to get off track… to be drawn away from my central focus of “walking with Jesus.” Restoring that… and, just as importantly, refusing to give in to the “baloney mindset” would put me into motion again. I could – and have begun to – break the cycle of negative inertia and am building on the positive inertia.
Now… I can only hope that somehow the same Holy Spirit that has been working in me will help you understand my ramblings. This may have been a case where I should have let this “cook” in my own life for awhile before attempting to express it – but I felt compelled to try. I have a sense that I’m not the only one “making baloney.” I’m not the only one who is missing the fact that I was missing Him. I’m definitely not the only one that needed reminding to carve out a space in which the Presence of God can be active again. And I seriously doubt I’m the only one that needs to break the inertia of standing still by disciplining myself to stay on task (which is a lot easier while living in the a renewed sense of His Presence!) I hope God somehow uses my “ramblings” to help others break out. I hope there are many, many storms brewing as all of us learn afresh to…
Walk WITH Jesus,


Anonymous said...

Thank YOU so much for posting this!!! It is just what the Dr. ordered for me!!!! Thanks for blessing my life!

The Feathered Nest said...

Oh Dixie. This. was. wonderful. It touched my heart and is so, so, true. Thank you for such a meaningful post ~ I'm sending it to my husband to read as I know he will love it. xxoo, Dawn

LoveThePrimLook said...

Dixie, what a beautiful post. Thank you so much for sharing it.

"Do not let what you cannot do
keep you from doing what you can do."

John Wooden