A fool has no delight in understanding, but in expressing his own heart. – Proverbs 18:2
Mistake 1: We went to the art show.
Mistake 2: We expected to see art.
I looked like a confused dog. At least it wasn’t lewd. But that was about the best I could say.
The artist had left behind a million dollars in paintings but little of true value. Her art expressed her feelings, her books expressed her views, her life was lived for her pleasure.
But to what end?
Artists grope to express the ugliness of sin and self and the beauty of God – though sometimes they acknowledge Him not as God. They use their irrevocable God-given talents to merely copy man when tragically they could have copied God.
A wise man delights in understanding and in expressing God’s working.
Why express my flawed thinking, shallow feelings, or selfish dreams when God is the source of perfect thinking, intense, holy feelings, and worthwhile dreams?
New Years brings a special brand of hope and energy. Many of us choose to express this in the form of resolutions. And this is about the time those resolutions are falling by the wayside. Whether the promise was that you would eat less fast food or leave work on time, nearly every resolution boils down to one truth: My priorities are messed up.
Sometimes it is obvious like the woman who “needs” three hours in front of the mirror every day to put on her face. The teenager who games more than he studies. Or the man who spends 90 hours in the office. They clearly have priority issues. But a few days ago I found myself wondering how to tell if my priorities stand on par with God’s.
It can’t just be a straight up measure of time – unless I truly do my job and hobbies for God (as I should). It can’t just be a measure of monetary investment – unless I truly treat “my” money as God’s money (because it is). It can’t be just what occupies my thoughts most – unless I do my best on everything for Jesus. And I confess it is difficult to keep Jesus in focus during everyday activities. So, I am stuck...
But what about my extras? What occupies my extra time? My extra money? My extra thinking? The time, money, and mental energy I am free to use however I want – what do I spend it on? And why do I spend it that way? Within the answers to those questions lie my true priorities.
Cartoon characters are purely for the entertainment of others. Good for a few laughs and little more. No one values or wants their opinions unless it adds to a joke. No one takes them seriously beyond how amusing their newest show was. All of us have days when we feel that way: marginalized and wrung out. Just like Minnie Mouse.
The reasons for these emotions span the gambit from general exhaustion to specific battle fatigue to desertion (and sometimes we don't even realize we have abandoned God's game plan). In any event, we are often spiritually fatigued.
Every drill instructor knows when his troops are tired, they are more prone to injury and harder to train. Spiritually when we are exhausted we are more prone to believe lies, compromise on the truth, and stray from healthy spiritual habits.
It is tempting to try to work ourselves out of being fatigued, just push through, bite the bullet etc.. But what needs to be done:
Trim the fat – it is so tempting to say “yes” to everything. But leading, teaching, volunteering, running, being, and helping everything is exhausting. What does God really desire for you?
That which has been is what will be, that which is done is what will be done, and there is nothing new under the sun. Is there anything of which it may be said, “See, this is new”? It has already been in ancient times before us. There is no remembrance of former things, nor will there be any remembrance of things that are to come by those who will come after.
I was coming home from work in the pitch black. There are three stop lights on the way home. I was sitting at the third one when I saw a truck already sitting at the light waiting for it to turn. I didn’t even have to stop because he had already waited for me. Even though he didn’t know me and wasn’t (I am sure) trying to make my life easier, he did.
We owe a lot to those who came before us. We don’t truly know or understand how much easier (or harder) they have made our lives. We cannot know their lives well enough to lightly criticize their decisions.
We come behind so we have the advantage of seeing where their decisions led them astray. And we have the opportunity of learning from their mistakes. It is missing the point, not to mention blatantly, inexcusably arrogant, to simply condemn them. Then, figuratively, knock the dirt off our hands and say, “What next?” instead of examining own decisions in light of their failures and realizing: We are the same. And we too will fail, if we do not consider today’s choices in light future and ultimately, eternity.
We are free to choose a different path than they did but too often we repeat their missteps and we will likewise suffer the consequences.
To reject the lesson of history is to choose the way of the fool. Approach from the seat of the self-important and gain nothing: you already know everything. But approach from the position of the fool and gain wisdom.
Have a blessed New Year!
Come with me as we grow in fellowship with each other and our Savior to whom belongs the Amazing Escape from sin and death and the Amazing Journey into glorious life.