Friday, August 19, 2016

Lessons learned from Japanese Economics

The other day, I was put in my place by such an accurately cut, well-fitting remark, that it left me with the feeling that I could see myself in a mirror in a brand new suit that I didn't want to buy. And yet I kept staring at it, fascinated by the fit.

It all happened on Facebook (oh-oh, some people are thinking). I made the mistake of commenting on someone else's comment on a news article on Japanese economics. Yes, that’s right, Japanese economics. Well, needless to say, my comment generated many comments aggressively contrary to mine, and yet I kept right on commenting, defending my little contribution on Japanese economics (yes, Japanese economics) until it began to feel like I was digging a hole for myself. It was then that the oh-so-fitting cutting remark was made. Just as my hole was approaching a depth of about six feet, someone replied with a few rebuttals, concluding with, "I don't mean to be rude, but your lack of clarity seeing the big picture is astounding."


I was dumb-struck. And embarrassed. And rightly so. My first impulse was to beat a hasty retreat from the conversation and hide in the digital bushes by temporarily putting my Facebook account to sleep. Ha! They'll never find me! I actually went through with that as though I thought that hiding my account from all those meanies would help somehow. It was then that, in my flustered embarrassment, I finally heard the Holy Spirit amidst it all. "That was Me," He said quietly.

What? "That was Me." Oh. I paused as that sank in. The next thing He said was, "Wouldn't it be better to repent and apologize rather than to put your Facebook account to sleep?" I cringed. But back I went, re-activating my account, and writing an apology for being so strident about something I clearly didn't understand.

Then I began to reflect on what I needed to learn from this! For example, don't mistake the few measly trees that I may know something about for the more complex forest that a discussion is actually about (or put more simply, don't profess to know something about something I know very little about).

But then the Lord widened the lens of this lesson by suggesting that perhaps this little episode is a reflection of how I approach life itself sometimes. He reminded me of a proverb I had recently felt inclined to memorize: "A man's steps are of the Lord; How then can a man understand his own way?" (Proverbs 20:24). Basically, what this verse tells me is that we don't see life from as good a vantage point as God does. We can't see as clearly as God can where our steps are leading or why things happen the way they do on any given day. And when we act as though the few circumstances we’re focused on must be indicative of His overall plans and intentions, or when we go so far as to insist on knowing more about His overall plan for our lives, we get into trouble. God simply doesn't feel obliged to always inform us of why He allows certain circumstances, or why He takes so long to answer certain prayers. As the God who oversees our steps, He doesn't feel the need to fill us in regarding every detail, or expect us to fully understand why everything happens the way it does in our lives. He simply expects us to humbly trust Him. But at times, we get anxious or frustrated or even upset with God regarding certain outcomes or timelines, and when we do, we’re basically telling God that we must understand what’s going on – He must give us details! That’s not how God Almighty operates. He doesn’t tell us everything, and not only can we not see the “big picture” of all that He's doing in our lives, but we’re not meant to. That’s why life with God is called a walk of faith. And that's why God can say to me (on various levels), "Your lack of clarity seeing the big picture is astounding – and you should get used to that."

Proverbs 16:9 is another verse that seems applicable: "The mind of man plans his way, But the Lord directs his steps." That means that whatever we have in mind regarding the big picture of our life and however we want our life to go, it’s valuable to remember, if we're His son or daughter, God will be sure to direct our steps to what's best. That’s an encouraging thing to be assured of when living amidst circumstances that we don't understand!

So with that in mind, if the suit fits, wear it!

© 2016 by Ken Peters

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