Thursday, August 22, 2013

Fearsome Fearfulness

"The angel of the Lord encamps around
those who fear Him, and He delivers them." 
~ Psalm 24:7

Wedged in among the day's news features was a story that immediately begged my attention.  In the Pacific Northwest, tales of bears and wolves are anything but novel.  Some are delivered in the form of human interest ~ the funny, or clever, or near-harrowing renderings of this encounter or that.  Others, like this one, remind us that nature often bears its fangs.

Before delving into the details, I studied the photo.  Surely the death of 176 bleating sheep came about by way of something utterly sinister or fierce?   Surely some plague set upon them?   Surely these particular sheep were somehow inferior to all other sheep in terms of their health or stamina? 

In truth, all but three of these 176 died of fear ~ fear engendered by two lone wolves.    

Fear.  It's a reaction with a price far higher than, perhaps, we can know or calculate.   What's more, it's a condition that extends well beyond the fearing one to others in proximity.   

There's a point, a pondering, a parable in all of this.  

"A southeastern Idaho ranch lost 176 sheep
as the animals ran in fear from two wolves
that chased through the herd of about
2,400 animals ... ". 
Sheep and sheep-life are common themes for the believer.  God's word is chocked full of them.  We are given to understand the concepts of the shepherd, sheepfold, bellwether, crooks/staffs, hireling, pastures, wandering, and the like.  We get that goats might graze alongside.  

Yet for all we get, there remains those stealthy things that stampede the heart & the thought-life.  Thus, in this story I am reminded again that fear may well be the worst of the undoings of sheep, not to mention the believer ~ a close kin in God's spiritual ecology.
Who or what is chasing, or threatening in my life?   And what is my inclination in the handling of it?
"This is my command—
be strong and courageous!
Do not be afraid or discouraged.
For the Lord your God is with you wherever you go."
~ Joshua 1:9
"The Lord is my shepherd; I shall not want...
Even though I walk through the valley of the
shadow of death, I will fear no evil,
for you are with me;
your rod and your staff, they comfort me." 
~ Psalm 23:1, 6
“Behold, I am sending you out as sheep in the
midst of wolves, so be wise as serpents
and innocent as doves." 
~ Matthew 10:16
"I am the good shepherd.
The good shepherd lays down his life for the sheep."  
~ John 10:11
"I am leaving you with a gift—
peace of mind and heart.
And the peace I give is a gift the world cannot give.
So don’t be troubled or afraid."
~ John 14:27

Wednesday, August 14, 2013

Beyond One's Means

I've done it.  Perhaps you have too?  Spending beyond one's means.   

It's not something I do anymore, the over-spending thing, having learned some difficult (even painful) lessons that make it fairly easy to count the cost before pulling out the wallet or credit card.   

Yet there are other ways to spend futilely beyond one's means with nary a dollar involved.  It all boils down to the choices I make about ...
  • Commitments
  • Food
  • Thought-life
  • Friendships
  • Work ethic
  • Clock & calendar options
  • Service
  • Prayer-life
  • Causes of disquietude

This is, by no means an exhaustive list.

Why on God's green earth I'm settled into this particular ravine is beyond me.  But here I am, and here I will remain until I've drawn the last draught of wisdom from His well.   

You see, someone asked me this morning:  "What aggravates you about other people; and how do you handle it?" 

My response was immediate:  "People who spend or live beyond their means and expect (directly or manipulatively) me or someone else to fund them when they get into trouble because of it."

Pretty reasonable, I'd say.

Unless ... until ... I conduct the personal inventory that clearly defines my own folly in this regard.

Ravines need not be Box Canyons unless I make them so. 
Above I asked why I'm settled here this morning.  No sooner had I formed that thought than I read today's devotional from My Utmost for His Highest (Oswald Chambers).  Accounting, it seems, is an acquired taste.

Am I fully prepared to allow God to grip me by His power
and do a work in me that is truly worthy of Himself?
Sanctification is not my idea of what I want God to do for me—
sanctification is God’s idea of what He wants to do for me.
But He has to get me into the state of mind and spirit where
I will allow Him to sanctify me completely, whatever the cost ...
So, now that I've got all that in a nutshell, why not add an equally compelling quandary?  What happens when I live beneath my means?  Methinks it's the greater question, and one worthy of it's own post, another day.