“A gem cannot be polished without friction, nor a man perfected without trials” – Lucius Annaeus Seneca. Teaching is love and one of the greatest gifts one can give. Some may say opportunities to learn exist everywhere we go. How much we learn depends on how open we are. God sends us teachers to take us as far as they can, then to release us as we soar to the next level. The measures of our lives are not how high we fly or how much we gain, rather how long we are willing to low-hover or how far we are willing to bend to give away His great riches.
On Saturday morning, I practiced yoga as I frequently do. In the early morning when I awakened, I read scriptures before I got out of bed. I had my tea and moseyed through the morning at a very gentle pace to conserve energy as I was slated to attend a half day celebratory event at local synagogue mid-morning.
I arrived at yoga radiating peace and serenity. We had a substitute instructor who had an extremely low energy. Her energy was so low, it was almost depressive. 15 minutes into the practice, I found it increasingly difficult to transition from one pose to another. By the halfway mark, my practice had completely degraded. The only reason I did not leave class was because to do so would have caused great interruption to the rest of the students in the class. So, I spent at least half of the class in corpse pose, feeling listless while searching for even the smallest glimpse of life’s joy. It was as though I was in a funeral procession. The only thing that was missing was the mortician and the hearse. Little did I know that the experience was a preparatory event for what was to happen later in the week. This low vibe the teacher emanated was her interpretation of calm. The spirit was uniquely saying “Be still and know that I am God” (Psalm 46:10 – NIV) because the Lord knew that my upcoming loss would create a familiar feeling in an unconventional way.
After getting cleaned up and changed, I went to the confirmation ceremony of a girl who reached the point in her life where she willing takes responsibility for her own actions regarding Jewish ethics, law, and tradition. The lessons imparted during the celebration were seek the truth for yourself, people are deserving of second chances, and reconcile and move on once an event has passed; a prophesy for what was to happen later in the week. The lesson was taken from Numbers 12:8-16 which says, “How dare you speak against my servant Moses?” 9 The Lord was angry with them; and so as he departed 10 and the cloud left the Tent, Miriam’s skin was suddenly covered with a dreaded disease and turned as white as snow. When Aaron looked at her and saw that she was covered with the disease, 11 he said to Moses, ‘Please, sir, do not make us suffer this punishment for our foolish sin. 12 Don’t let her become like something born dead with half its flesh eaten away.’ 13 So Moses cried out to the Lord, ‘O God, heal her!’ 14 The Lord answered, ‘If her father had spit in her face, she would have to bear her disgrace for seven days. So let her be shut out of the camp for a week, and after that she can be brought back in.’15 Miriam was shut out of the camp for seven days, and the people did not move on until she was brought back in. 16 Then they left Hazeroth and set up camp in the wilderness of Paran.”
Later in the week, a friend emailed me to say there had been a major change in perspective on life that required us to untie the knot of our friendship. At first, I experienced heart-break and questioned the “true” motivation for the change. I then grieved at the loss as it felt like a loved one had passed away. After prayer and a good night’s sleep, I realized that although I was sad about the dissipation of the growing closeness, I found the truth of openness in the relationship. I gained far more from the bond than I lost by its disconnection. I will miss my friend but believe that a more abundant life will come from the death of the relationship as we knew it than if I tried to cling to it. The undertaker removed what was as the birthing center cradles what is.
The next day, I witnessed someone in a pivotal position engage in questionable activity. I spent the next 24 hours contemplating my next move. I felt conflicted because James 5 tells me, “19-20 My dear friends, if you know people who have wandered off from God’s truth, don’t write them off. Go after them. Get them back and you will have rescued precious lives from destruction and prevented an epidemic of wandering away from God.” However, my training and trade urged me to expose the behavior and allow an independent party to examine the facts and find the truth. I chose the latter option to deal with the issue.
But the tentacles of this wrongdoing reach far beyond the doer. It is not possible to isolate the illumination of the darkness of one person when the individual is surrounded by a crowd. To the doer of wrong deeds, the requisite shepherds and their villagers, the exposure will feel like character assassination and will have the threat of provision elimination because the land owner lacks Godly insights. Unfortunately in this instance, the shepherds and overseers did not provide instruction, guidance, and correction to their sheep along the way. Their sights were set on other things and a member of their flock floundered in the meadow and stumbled onto dangerous terrain. Now the sheep is hanging in the balance with an uncertain fate. My prayer is that the threat of death inspires a rebirth of energy that promotes great growth within the entire village. May the independent party find the truth that I was unwilling to look for.
The dichotomy of the coming of age and the going home to rest events as well as the death and rebirth has me meditating on these scriptures:
- Trust in the LORD with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding (Proverbs 3:5)
- Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God (Philippians 4:6)
- We all, like sheep, have gone astray, each of us has turned to his own way; and the LORD has laid on him the iniquity of us all (Isaiah 53:6)
- Make every effort to keep the unity of the spirit through the bond of peace (Ephesians 4:3)
My meditation has revealed that: Life is full of pleasant surprises and utter craziness; God’s son is our second chance; His message to believers comes in many translations; the greatest growth comes from experiences in the darkest times. His lessons come from lots of teachers – Be open to all of them and believe.
Newsboys provided my current chant in We Believe with “Let the lost be found and the dead be raised! In the here and now, let love invade! Let the church live love – our God will see we believe, We believe! And the gates of hell will not prevail! For the power of God has torn the veil! Now we know Your love will never fail! We believe, we believe!”