Saturday, April 11, 2015

Nothing Wasted, Nothing Unimportant

image used under Creative Commons license, 
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If you've been a regular reader, here, or have been following our posts on LifeNotes, you may have figured out where this is going, from the title.  And, yes, we're going there anyway.

Our illustration is a bunch of coins falling out of someone's hands.  Think about our attitude toward change.  We don't really like carrying much change.  It's heavier than bills.  It takes a lot to buy much of anything worthwhile.  If it were up to us, pennies would quickly be out of circulation.  They don't seem to have much value.  Yet. there are all those pieces of gum and candy we'd never get without them.  Or, if something cost $.99 and we had no bills and only $.95, those four pennies become very important.

What goes into our salvation is very much like that.  There were some things we talked about in our 
Fear Not - Part 4 LifeNote that I want to look at further.


We say that God doesn't waste anything.  Not the good things, not the bad, not even the neutral. Yet, no matter how spiritual our churches seem to be, there's a tendency to emphasize the Cross or the Resurrection, while downgrading the importance of the other.  That's our flesh ignoring that both need the other to be as important as they are.  We've pretty much covered that in Fear Not - Part 4. But there's more to be said about Mary Magdalene.  She, too, has a lot that fits into the idea that nothing is wasted nor unimportant.

Whether we look at the woman at the well or Mary Magdalene, we see people who have tossed away long term value for things that give immediate, but short term, satisfaction.  Very much like Esau did for his bowl of soup.  The strength of immediate cravings overrode clear insight into what was really important.  And, no, we're not talking about sex.

Both the woman at the well and Mary Magdalene had needs.  The woman at the well needed love, security, a need to be needed.  Mary Magdalene needed "all these things" from Matthew 6:33, not realizing that degrading herself diminished their worth, as well as hers.  At least by the earthly standards she was living in to gain them.  And she probably wanted that same sense of being wanted and needed, which was subverted by how she tried to fulfill those needs.  Fortunately for both women, their lives, their thinking, and their souls were converted by Jesus.

If we have wrong thinking, it's easy to allow the visible to hide the invisible.  That moment's pleasure masks its weaknesses and consequences.  And makes it seem so much greater than the future we give up for it.  Our spiritual 20/20 hindsight can recognize that.  But our flesh dwells in immediate stimulation. And what we experience immediately.  The immediate satisfaction of fulfilling any of a variety of lusts can hide the fact that there is also a downside to giving in.

The drinker feels good after some number of drinks, but there are the comments that would never be said without the false courage, the possible accidents, or how it might block a stronger connection with God or others.  Those chasing after money forgo other things, convinced of the importance of earthly wealth.  Sex can convince us that physical satisfaction is without risk of unwanted pregnancies, diseases, the possible damage to relationships.

Consciously, in the back of our mind, we know all that.  So, here's a question.  Am I the only one who can sometimes look at those who've made wrong choices, then changed course, and have a little envy?  Feel like we've missed something?  And, for me, that's after living the downside for almost 20 years.  For others, it may be that they never succumbed to such idiocy.  But the flesh sees no further than outer attractiveness and immediate results.

A friend brought up the parable of the workers in the vineyard in Matthew 20:1-16.  There were different groups of workers hired at different times, each group offered the same pay as the others. Those who worked longer more were upset they didn't receive more for the greater amount of work. That's the flesh talking, 1000%!  From the standpoint of the vineyard owner, there were two possibilities for pay -- the full amount offered or none.  The amount agreed on was the full amount the vineyard owner was willing to pay.  Those who were in the fields longer weren't given less than agreed upon.  And those who worked that final hour received what they had agreed upon.  So, none got less than asked for.

If anything, the first workers should have been mad at themselves for being lousy negotiators, not the farmer for offering the same pay, no matter the amount of work.  As pretty much every Christian understands, this parable speaks of salvation.  It's not "time in grade" or amount of work that count. We don't save ourselves.  It's the "landowner's" graciousness that counts.  Which brings us back to another salvation fallacy.

We can sometimes look at those with all kinds of earthly "benefits" with a bit of jealousy.  I say "we" because I doubt any of us have missed that mistake.  We have a way of giving priority to what's in front of us instead of the blessings to come.  But when we do that, we also give earthly things a higher priority than God.  We may not think we're doing that, but, as Baretta used to put it, "That's the name of that tune.".  They have a way of looking really good and have a way of convincing us we can delay choosing other things.  Which is wrong.

We have no idea when our last breath might be.  So, making a choice other than unity with God is like playing with fire.  We could be burnt by time running out before making the right choice.  Is momentary pleasure(s) worth taking a chance of that happening?  Not really.  There's another thing that's been a reality for me.

I have to admit to a slow spiritual growth.  I had to get rid of a bunch of baggage.  As I progressed in my relationship with God, there was a recognizable, continual increase of peace in my soul.  If I'd kept playing with earthly things, I'd have missed much of that.  While there are good earthly things, I'd have been settling for a lesser good, I'd be delaying or hindering the real spiritual benefits, and I would have been questioning God's wisdom in comparison to my own experience.  That's not just playing with fire, it's trying to perform a tightrope act while the rope is burning.  Not exactly the smartest move.

We titled this post "Nothing Wasted, Nothing Unimportant".  The reality is that God uses everything to draw us to Him.  And what we avoid is no less important than what we allow into our soul.  Nor are the small choices less important than the big decisions.  Each takes us closer to God or further away from Him.  How is your thinking doing, today?

3 comments:

  1. You are so right is as much as, we don't know when our last breath might be. Living in TN I came to realise how fast life is in the US. I think we are a bit slower than that in Oz, or perhaps I am getting older and living in a country town, I don't get to see the rush and bustle. Yes, the world is becoming a place of "I want now" but was it the same for the woman at the well or Mary Magdalene? I remember once hearing that the woman at the well, may have lost one husband and then married his brother, lost him and married another brother and so on. Mary, may have been destitute and took up prostitution as a way to make a living??
    Yes today people do rush in to get their gratification without a though od the repercussions, and we do need to think more. We need to get closer to Goad every day.

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  2. Sorry for spelling mistakes... I feel disrespectful of GOD... praise his name.

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  3. Sorry for the delay in responding. I've been dealing with a health issue.

    What you say about the woman at the well could very well be true. Part of Jewish life, back then, was that widows were covered by the late husband's brothers. Each, in turn, would marry her to give her a covering. It might be just one brother doing that or, if he also died, a second or a third. But I'm not sure there's any indication that there were brothers. I'll have to look again.

    I'm glad you were blessed by this post.

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