SPIRITUAL SOLUTIONS: Applications of spiritual truths to our expectations, connections, proportions & synchronizations in relation to the images of life, the problems of life & our purpose of life…ha!.. in other words, to learn & apply correct spiritual thinking to life. This is what is called truth in action.(1)
NO ONE GETS ALL THEY WANT FROM LIFE. The spiritual leader Paul, who planted & nourished many churches, spoke about how he would fail his expectations….how he could fail to do what he wanted to do, for instance, to fail to do the good things, and then find himself slipping into doing what was bad. (2) “For what I am doing, I do not understand….Who will deliver me from this body of death? I thank God –through Jesus Christ our Lord.”(3) Life, love & truth can be a bat surprising us as we enter a dark cave. Nature is a complex ecology of change where things often fail to follow perfect paths. Life is like the weather—its circumstances are dynamic & out of our control. Still, we control how we respond to the weather & the circumstances of our lives. And the unpredictability & complexity of the planet are full of lessons. There are the tides of life, not to mention the seasons. The forests have much to teach us.
HOW DO WE EMBRACE OUR LIFE? Where are we planted? Or are we rootless? How are we watered? Are we growing in the light? Are we stunted in the dark? Do we produce fruit, & is our fruit wormy? How do we grow in relation to others? What does life whisper? What is the meaning of a tree? And what purpose does a rock have? Is life a miracle? Is it fragile or protected and safe?
STRIPPED TO AUTHENTICITY. When we lead comfortable self-satisfied lives w/out real trials, tests, & failures we become content with the superficial. Troubles are the sandpaper to strip off the superficial. Irritations are opportunities to mature. The real truths which lay beyond the superficial now can be apprehended. Through such stripping of the superficial veneers, shellac & make-up in our lives, we can become living translations of God’s word. One of our veneers is the combo of the pride of life & self-satisfaction. For instance, how many potentially good men have failed to connect to their families, where the value of their lives really resided, because they were distracted with superficial toys. The bird, which has almost no possessions, sings lustfully joyful tunes, while the man with “everything” is upset by what he thinks he still lacks. If this carnal man is stripped, perhaps he will stop & listen to the music of nature. Maybe he will then communicate with the world at large. Maybe he will synchronize his life with the true rhythms of life. Listening to life is the lifeblood of healthy living. Our ears & other senses are designed to take in just as our lungs breath. God is near to the righteous, do we sense His presence?(4)
DIAGNOSING THE ROOT PROBLEMS. In so many aspects of life, symptoms & surface problems receive a quick band-aid covering, while the fundamental problem lies undetected. A man plays dirty office politics to grab a co-worker’s better paying job. The superficial explanation is that conflict stems from lust.(5) His temptation was an emotional experience driven by his temporal values.(6) Those temporal values are but the symptom of a deeper festering problem—his view of God & his resistance to the grace of God, as well as his refusal to dedicate his personal rights & possessions to God.(7) Another example: often atheism is a mask for hate of God. So what is dulling our senses to listen to life? What is preventing us from sensing the presence of our loving God? Why is there a gravity that pulls people to do bad things? Do we need some stripping? God says that He will give us the ability to understand.(8) He suggests that we ask for His help.(9) And as one might expect, some listen to God & some refuse.(10) Some turn to idols for advice.(11) One part of the gravity of evil is that we easily get in bondage to routine, what is comfortable. Even bondage can be comfortable if it is a habit. Unhealthy destructive habits/ways of life can become natural to people. The children of Israel preferred what was familiar in slavery over the strangeness of freedom! (12)
LABELING. We can mistakenly reframe things: call slavery “freedom”, call mistrust “maturity”, call isolation “independence”, and call complaining “realism”.
BRINGING LIFE TO THESE WORDS. Many of these thoughts may seem like intangible words to readers. I know the personal story of a man whose life illustrates many of these thoughts in this post. Bob Welch wrote a book “Resolve” about an American officer in WW 2 named Clay Conner. It is the true story of how an American officer survived in the jungles of the Philippines, where wise experienced people rated the odds of survival as one in a million. When the Japanese overran Bataan Peninsula, Connor ran off into the jungle rather than surrender to the Japanese. At that point, he was your typical spoiled soft middle class college-educated city boy. He had never been camping in his life, and had filled his days with the trivial things typical teenagers & frat boys spend their time on. There was little to suggest that he could survive. Prior to the surrender, an American had tried to give him a pocket Bible. Not being religious, Connor tried repeatedly to turn down the gift, but the soldier was so persistent that Clay Conner found it easier to put it in his pocket than keep refusing the man. Later, that Bible became a source of inspiration & life to Connor.
After his life was stripped of everything—he found God and meaning to life. Having been stripped of the superficial in many painful ways, Clay wrote in his journal, “No longer was I thoughtlessly ready to jump at every chance to receive personal happiness & self-satisfaction like some inconsiderate college scamp, but I deeply desired to take my place in the world and do something beneficial for my fellow man.” After he was stripped, he gained genuine appreciation for the sacrifices people like his parents had made for him. Facing a constant battle with exposure, hunger, exhaustion, malaria, yellow jaundice, & diarrhea (not to mention being constantly hunted by the Japs w/ many close escapes), Clay described in detail these ceaseless enemies of nature & man and then wrote: “God was my healer.” Reading the Bible was “far greater than a four-year college education.”
(1) described by Yahshua’s brother @ JAS 2: 22-26 (2) ROM 7:15-19 (3)ROM 7:24-25 (4) example of His nearness by prayer DT 4:7, see ROM 5:2 & EPH 2:18; 3:12 on our access to God (5) JAS 4:1, & one finds an example of unjustly gained riches @ JER 17:11 (6) 1 TIM 6:9 (7) LK 9:23-25, cf. 1 TIM 6:10, PRV 28:22 (8) PS 119:125 (9) PS 139:23, I SAM 28:14, ISA 41:1, cf. waiting for His answers…HEB 6:13 (10) EZK 3:27 (11) ISA 19:3 (12) NUM 14:3-4, EX 14:12, 16:3 & others & illustrated also in EX chapt. 32