Wednesday, October 16, 2019
Week Forty-Two - Nurture and Nature
Have you ever read Jennifer Rothchild's book, Self Talk, Soul Talk? If not, I highly recommend it. The book is full of sound, biblical instruction on managing and taming the inner voice. I want to consider one quote from page 108 with you today. She writes, "We don't veer off our pathway to peace because we're disabled or helpless. We skid into those highway washouts and bridgeless canyons when we are defiant. Absence of peace is not an "I can't" situation. It's an "I won't" problem. Defiance, an unwillingness to let go of anger, hurts you, my friend and you are too valuable to live like that."
The thing that caught my eye was the "I can't" and "I won't" part. I remember having discussions with teens about the difference between the two. Helping them see they were making decisions based on a preconceived preference or downright defiance was a concept many of them struggled to accept. As I read on in her book, I realized teens aren't the only ones who struggle. Adults, too, make choices based on only these two options. But there is a third option, God's option.
And what is that? Faithful obedience. Ah, how we avoid that option! And, I find, even when we know the option, seek that option, and even believe it is the best option, the "I can't" and "I won't" filters create hindrances us.
Let me see if I can explain a bit of how this happens. Take a piece of paper and write the word, God, on the left-hand side. Then, draw an arrow from that word pointing to the right side of the paper. In the center, above the line of the arrow, write the word Nurture. Directly below the line, write the word, Nature. Okay, let's work from this visual for just a bit.
God is God. He is right. Do you agree? This is where all things begin. The line represents His directives all pointing to the outcome He desires-our obedience in all things. At the end of the arrow could be any question or circumstance you are facing. We could put tithing, submission to authority, or whatever hurdle is relative to our current situation. Go ahead and write something at the arrow's point personal to you. It's good to first take time to look at Scripture about that topic so you are sharpened and certain about what God says.
Now, let's consider the Nurture word. Nurture is the influence of society, family, and friends. These are the voices where we develop the "I can't" excuse. We think we can't because we have been told we aren't smart enough, we aren't trained well enough, we aren't ready, etc. The nurturing influences, if they aren't positive, aid in creating the excuse, "I can't." If we continue listening to the negatives, they will draw us further and further away from God's directives and obedience will be crippled by doubt, peer pressure, and frustration. What "I can't" excuses are you using?
The word, Nature, relates to our feelings, emotions, and personal bents. This is our will. 'I won't," is prevalent here. We hear our inner voice saying things like, "I don't want to do that." "That's too hard for me, it makes me feel uncomfortable." "I'm afraid of failure.", etc. Emotions and fears rise while anger and resentment hold us back from full obedience. If we follow our nature, we will be stymied and swallowed up, living by emotion only and never fully obedient to God's directives. Do you hear the defiant 'I won't" replaying in your head?
So, as we put it all together, we don't fail to obey because we don't know any better. We fail to obey because we make a choice based on fleshly and faulty information.
God's word is full of examples encouraging us toward "I can." And God plainly says, "I can do all things through Christ" (Phil 4:13). The opposite of "I won't," is "I will." Take time to look at the "I will's" in the book of Psalms alone. You will find so many. "I will praise...I will bow down...I will remember...etc. God knows the bent of our hearts and the influences in our lives. He isn't afraid of them. Rather, He uses them to teach us more about obedience and to bring us to Himself.
Today might be a good day for you to examine the hurdles you face and see if they are related to the nurture or nature of your life. Take those things to the cross and get back onto that straight arrow of faithful obedience-the way of blessing and peace.