Friday, September 18, 2015

Polar Opposites

“You hardly said anything. That’s unusual for you.” My husband boldly made that statement as we finished eating lunch at the kitchen table. He was referring to our outing that morning where we met a lady at a local restaurant. 

I know if you’re a wife you can imagine what went through my mind at that moment.  Visions of kicking him under the table might be accurate, that is if my legs could actually reach that far.  However, I don’t think I’ve ever done that. 

Or maybe you envision me giving him the “evil eye” because he dared to say such a thing, implying I talk a lot in public. OK, maybe hubby has me on that, but I come by it honestly inheriting that characteristic from my parents.  It’s not something I plan, but it never seems to fail that I talk to people wherever I go.  I don’t consider them strangers, just people I haven’t met yet, and everyone is interesting. You just have to ask the right questions. 

Our conversation over lunch was about my post this week and that I was having difficulty in a few areas pulling all the pieces together.  In other words, I was looking for some inspiration to guide me. 

Instead of helping, my husband was singing and giving me all sorts of information that was getting me off course.  My mind was filling up with things that I didn’t need to know at that particular time and all he could do was laugh, which got me to laughing as well. 

That’s alright though.  Still remembering his innuendo about my over active talking skills, I settled the situation by spurting out directions. “Go clean the litters … maybe that will give you some inspiration.”   

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Fresh Ideas 

My day had started out OK, but I wasn’t pleased with how my writing was coming together.  Sometimes when I’m missing a part of the overall picture I leave the house to clear my mind, hoping to gain new insight and get some fresh ideas. 

Thursday is usually when I spend a bulk of time writing with no interruptions or as little as possible anyway.  I had gone to bed the night before with questions about a few things so I presented them to the Lord.  If I don’t receive an answer I know it’s because I have to look at it differently than the way I was approaching the article or situation.  Getting away for a few hours helps clear my mind so I can sort out all the information I already have, and delete what doesn’t belong in my thinking. 
 

My husband was totally surprised when I asked if we could go have pancakes at McDonald’s.  It’s about the only thing I eat there besides salad, fries and iced tea. 
 
Even though it might delay me a few hours in making deadlines for my freelance writing, I knew they wouldn’t be late. It was something I needed to do in order to move forward and confirm what my spirit was telling me. 

I Only Asked One Question 

I had one bite of food left (literally) when a lady came up to me and asked, “Are those seats comfortable?" (Referring to the ones like I shared with you last week.)  

"My husband didn’t think they would be and neither do I for eating. They seem too confining for moving your arms …” she went on practically answering the question herself before I gave her a response. 

Satisfied with how things were proceeding, I felt comfortable to continue our conversation. All I asked was one question.  “Did you make that shirt yourself?” A world of knowledge was about to be poured out unto us. 

Briefly she told me about her specially self-designed apparel before moving on to the rest of her life. For the next hour she talked, and talked and talked.  Not that I minded because what she was saying was interesting and funny, but it baffled me how she was able to tie in all that information from my simple six word question. 

Staying Connected 

Our new “friend” began by explaining why she was on Facebook and that led to the can of experiences being opened and spilled out as we sat and listened. 
 
The Internet was a way she could stay connected to friends and family, but when it came to the rest of the world, Karon scrolls over them. (Hope you don't do that.)

Leaning over my chair while resting her arm on the sidearm, we learned about Karon’s successful boys, grandkids and her relationship with their educated wives.  She still had friendships since the first grade, and shared that even though she didn’t go to her reunion, she did attend her husband’s. 

It seemed that the conversation kept going into areas that might have been off limits for a stranger, but then I’ve never met a stranger so she must have sensed that or I just looked like someone who might care.  I’d like to think of it as the latter, but my husband says it’s because I’m a fishcake when it comes to people.  Regardless, I always have a good time and somehow God works it in to a life lesson. 

There was plenty of information that I could have gone my whole life not knowing, like her huge (her words not mine) three year old granddaughter had size four feet, drinking problems in the family and how much they spend on particular items.  She was proud and her face gleamed from delight as she poured out every detail of her life whether it was good or bad.
 
Even the methods of disciplining her children were an open book and how she felt this generation’s kids should be raised by grandmas. If I was writing her story, I wouldn’t have any problems coming up with a fascinating five hundred page novel.  As a matter of fact, when she learned that I was also a writer and that I’d probably share this, it didn’t bother her a bit. 

Karon continued to tell us about her ninety-two year old mother (one of eleven children, two of them passing on at age two due to dehydration) who is in a nursing home. Although she has an entire wardrobe, everyday her mom wears the same sweatshirt she crocheted for her with yellow roses on it.   

Neither my husband or myself had an opportunity to chime in before she went on to tell about every place she lived, where she was born, how they had been married fifty-five years and that they were able to retire twenty-seven years ago based on some good investments.  Her desire was to move to the city, because as she called it, they were “hoarders” and needed to unload all their stuff.   

Every time it seemed right to add to the conversation I felt led to keep still and let her talk.  That happened several times; perhaps that’s why my husband was flabbergasted that I didn’t give an exchange as usual. 

Polar Opposites 

Honestly, I don’t know how this woman was able to get so much information out in such a short time. Her voice was pleasant and she was certainly not boring, but her tone was like the Chipettes (you know the high pitched females from Alvin and the Chipmunks cartoons). Her voice was speeding up as she spoke as if she had to get all this out or she’d burst.  My neck was getting stiff from looking up, but by now we enjoyed the roller coaster ride of events. 
 

This senior explained how they both had physical problems, him having heart and kidney ailments.  She had one kidney and was recovering from foot surgery, yet she remained standing and smiling the entire time. 

What struck us funny was that Karon’s husband was still sitting in the booth behind her dozing off as she stood and talked.  Apparently this isn’t something new, and Dwight had been to that rodeo before when it came to his wife’s socializing.  They were polar opposites in their behavior, yet somehow it worked.  He had learned to become a patient listener and didn’t interfere with how his wife rolled, and she let her husband be his reserved self.  Such fun! 

It Doesn’t Have to Be Hard 

By the time we left Karon had invited us to a social they were having that afternoon.  After exchanging names we left feeling that God wanted us to be there at that particular time, and the pieces had fallen in place for my assignment. 

When I got home I talked to the Lord about what I was to gain from my experience that morning.   In my spirit I heard, “It doesn’t always have to be that hard.  Can’t it just be simple?” I knew He wasn’t referring to His way of doing things, but mine. 

Here I was looking for some kind of methodical, detailed life changing lesson to be learned, when all God wanted was for me to be quiet and listen.  For a counselor and instructor sometimes this is the polar opposite of what comes naturally when we’re in a conversation, but I do know that there are times when silence is necessary if we are to make progress.   

My Dad used to say that no one ever got into trouble by listening.  I could debate that, but when listening properly he is absolutely correct.  If we are to be students of the Word of God, then we have to believe that Christ always leads us into situations where we can gain wisdom and knowledge.  

“A wise man will hear and increase learning, and a man
of understanding will attain wise counsel.” (Proverbs 1:5 NKJV) 

Here’s the bottom line. If we want to hear from God we have to spend time listening to Him.  When we enter into our prayer closets it’s not just so we can pour out all our problems, even though God does tell us to cast our care on Him. (1 Peter 5:7) 

We don’t listen with our physical ears, but with our heart, the inner spirit that connects us to the Lord.  The Holy Spirit whispers to our spirit not our flesh, leading the way we should go. God speaks to us through His Word, but often uses people and situations to drive a thought home in our spirit.  That’s what He did with me this week when I tried to make something harder than it needed to be. 

If we trust the Lord and believe what we’ve read in the Bible, the promises of God will come to us in the favor of His wisdom, knowledge, guidance and understanding for every situation and encounter in life. 

“By listening, we discover God in our own stories and in other people’s stories.” (from Listen: Finding God in the Story of Your Life) 

Even though it may look like Karon was spilling the beans of her life, I learned quite a bit from her in that brief time and was really blessed by our  meeting.  Some information I count as the Lord leading in wisdom, while others I know it was God telling us to avoid.   

We never have to be afraid of what God will have us do, because He is the One mapping out the path for our safety.  He has good things lined up for us, but we have to trust His way. 

“But whoever listens to Me will dwell safely, and will be secure,
without fear of evil.” (Proverbs 1:33 NKJV) 

If I hadn’t spent time with the Lord I wouldn’t recognize which was which, plus it wouldn’t have been nearly as interesting or exciting.
 

“The Christ that saves you is a speaking Christ; the Church knows Him by voice, and can discern His tongue amongst a thousand.” – Samuel Rutherford
 

Listening Leads to the Favor Door 

Part of believing what we say we believe is following through with acting on that belief.  When God tells us to listen we don’t have the option of ignoring the command; we better stand tall and pay attention.  

Listening to the Lord comes with benefits such as becoming wise (and you don’t have to be old to receive wisdom from God).  Following the voice of God leads to joy, and something we all like to receive … the blessing of His favor! 

“Now therefore, listen to Me, My children, for blessed are those who keep My ways.  Hear instruction and be wise,
 and do not distain (hate) it.
 
Blessed is the man who listens to me, watching daily at My gates, waiting at the posts of My doors (in prayer). (Proverbs 8:32-34 NKJV) 

That’s how the New King James words this passage. Let’s look at the same scripture in the New Living Translation of the Bible.   

“And so, My children, listen to Me, for all who follow My ways are joyful. Listen to My instruction and be wise.  Don’t ignore it.
Joyful are those  who listen to Me, watching for Me daily at My gates, waiting for Me outside My home.” (Proverbs 8:32-34 NLT) 

We are told that those who listen are blessed and/or joyful, depending on which translation you view. I can verify that listening brought me a bunch of joy that day and I was certainly blessed with laughter.  Listening kept me out of a heap of trouble as a kid and still does in my so-called “adult” years. 

Although those passages are powerful, I want to take you back years before these translations into the 1599 Geneva Bible of the early church.  This version depicts blessings the way God really meant.  Take a look: 

“Therefore now hearken, O children, unto Me: for blessed are they that keep My ways.  Hear instruction, and be ye (you) wise, and refuse it not: blessed is the man that heareth Me, watching daily at My gates, and giving attendance at the posts of My door.  For he that findeth Me, findeth life, and shall obtain favor of the Lord.”
 (Proverbs 8:32-34 Geneva 1599 Bible GNV) 

To “hearken” to something means to listen, pay close attention to His voice, obey and do what is being said. God tells us not to refuse or hate the wisdom that is being offered to us when we hear it.  

We will find this wisdom and blessings at His gates. That means we need to show up, be in attendance at His house in prayer and fellowshipping in His Word every day. Notice He said, “Daily making an appearance.”  

Why is finding God on a regular basis so important?  If we want to walk in daily favor, we have to go where the favor can be obtained (acquired). There is only one place that distributes God’s blessings/favor, and that is at the door of Christ.  Find His door and you have located the favor of the Lord. 
 

This Week’s Challenge:
Practice the Opposite 

Learning the correct time to be silent takes some doing, but if we put our faith in God and believe He is in control it can be quite enjoyable.   

“Listen, for I will speak of excellent things, and from the opening of My lips will come right things.” (Proverbs 8:6 NKLV) 

We don’t always have to add our two cents when it comes to people sharing their story with us.  When it comes time to speak, God will cause pearls of wisdom to flow from our lips that will be perfect for the conversation. 

I had a lot in common with Karon that I could have shared, like my education, teaching and her creative side when it comes to design.  It wasn’t about me at that moment, but about someone else.  One thing I did share was about writing so I could be upfront with her. 

Obviously Karon doesn’t have difficulty talking to people or have a problem sharing information about practically anything, on the contrary it gave her joy to share those things with individuals who didn’t know her story.  What a privilege to have been the ones God used in this instance. 

Our challenge this week takes us into the opposite side of what we deem as normal in our life.  If you are the Chatty Cathy type as I am in public, this week practice doing the opposite and just let people talk.  Enjoy the ride so to speak and let them roll with whatever they want to talk about, but make sure you don’t find yourself in a debating situation. 

Now for those of you who are the wall flower peeps, it’s your time to shine and make some progress in the social field.  Karon found a way to connect by asking a neutral question.  I responded with a more personal one regarding her shirt.  You can do the same by addressing a topic that piques your interest.  If you find it interesting, share your story.   

In both situations (whether the chatty or quiet type personalities) God will give an opening that pleases Him, but it’s our job to take advantage of it and obey His lead.  We can do this.  God has wonderful plans for our journey and sometimes the direction is completely (polar) opposite of what we’ve been traveling.   

I had some thoughts about what God wanted me to share with you, however, nothing was clear until I spent time with the Lord.  I believed He had more for me and wanted to see where He would lead.  As always it was good. 

It’s time to listen and not disregard what the Lord is saying; run to His gates and He’ll greet you at the door with His favor! 

“My sheep listen to My voice; I know them,
and they follow Me.” (John 10:27 NLT)

 

 

Until next time, favor is given daily at God’s door!
 

Check Messages throughout the week.
 

“Welcome to My house, where favor lives.”
Jesus Christ
 

Note: The words satan or devil are not capitalized deliberately, because we give him no place in our lives.
Disclaimer: Article information is not meant to be used as treatment for mental or physical issues, but geared toward spiritual awareness. 

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Scripture reference was taken from the New King James Bible Version provided by Gateway Bible
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