No where to Turn

We often hear people say, “I have no where to turn!” Many times they are just frustrated by what is happening at that moment and things aren’t as bad as they think. There are times however, when things are truly bad. I met someone almost 10 years ago who I mentioned a couple of weeks ago. He was helping me make connections that would alter my life in big ways as a military contractor. As we started to become true friends, I heard about the turmoil in his life. His ex-wife had burned down his house, his older sons were doubtful of their mother’s involvement which was creating conflict and his truck was broken into and some of his belongings were stolen. Yet, he found time to help me. As we talked, he kept referring to the strength of Job and all of his troubles. Neither Job nor my friend lost faith.

In the grand scheme of things, I have a very good life. We are constantly waiting for the proverbial “other shoe to drop” but we never seem to let minor set backs slow us down. I have seen people’s lives changed in the blink of an eye and never really thought beyond my role as a rescuer as to what would come of their emergency once we left. As I get older, I see people who struggle every day with medical conditions, financial issues, workplace stresses and relationships. I’m sure age has nothing to do with it; maturity does. It is how we deal with these problems that is key to our happiness. Unfortunately, some turn to substance abuse to escape, while others turn to friends or family for help. Healthy choices have long-term effects. The others only ease the pain temporarily and then pile on more problems for later. If you are struggling or know someone who is, seek long-term answers because your problems are, in the grand scheme of things, short-term.

20 “Although the Lord gives you the bread of adversity and the water of affliction, your teachers will be hidden no more; with your own eyes you will see them. 21 Whether you turn to the right or to the left, your ears will hear a voice behind you, saying, “This is the way; walk in it.” Isaiah 30:20-21

When I first started planning this devotional, I was looking only at verse 21. It is easy to write about listening to the voice that says, “This is the way”. However, it is important to remember that God also brings adversity and affliction. It sounds crazy to think that God brings these bad things to us but we must remember, “Everything happens for a reason”. Sometimes they build strength for what is yet to come, other times they provide you wisdom to advise someone else later in life. In some cases, God is using you as an example of faith for others to see – a living witness.

We are reminded that no matter what ‘bad thing” is happening to us, “your ears will hear a voice behind you, saying, “This is the way; walk in it.” Much like when you must open the door when opportunity knocks, you must be ready to hear God’s voice. He won’t necessarily speak directly to you or send an Angel in your dreams, but wouldn’t that be awesome! God uses all of us in different ways to send His messages. It was my new friend, who was experiencing far worse things than I was, that was sending me the message that it was going to be okay. The day we spoke was transformational for me. Looking back, I know that it was God telling me that, “This was the way”. Keep listening!

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Wisdom and Understanding

“He doesn’t have enough common sense to change a nickel!” It was a phrase I heard often from my first Captain. He would use it to describe just about anyone who couldn’t quite “get it”. I don’t know if he ever used it to describe me but I’m sure, at times, I lacked “a little change” myself. Merriam Webster’s defines wisdom as “the quality of having experience, knowledge, and good judgment; the quality of being wise.” The challenge we have in our roles as spouses, siblings, parents and leaders is that we don’t or can’t teach wisdom. In education, we refer to “teaching wisdom” as teaching critical thinking. It is difficult to teach someone how to “think”. We usually associate wisdom with experience and maturity. Critical thinking is skillful and responsible thinking in which you study the problem from all angles, and then exercise your best judgment to draw conclusions. Teaching critical thinking consists of three basic concepts: 1) Reflecting on the issue or question; to stop and think, avoiding snap judgments, accepting the first idea that comes to mind or automatically accepting whatever is presented. 2) Gently asking questions such as “How do you know”, “What are the reasons?” and “Is that a good source of information?” which establishes the reasons for a point of view or seeks the reasons for others’ views. 3) Being aware of alternative possibilities, conclusions, explanations, sources of evidence, or points of view. Merriam Webster’s defines understanding as “the power of abstract thought; the capacity to apprehend general relations of particulars”. We must have wisdom before we have understanding. As leaders, we tend to deal with teaching people what to do (knowledge) and ask if they understand it. We should be focusing on their depth of understanding through critical thinking.

“And he said to man, ‘The fear of the LORD—that is wisdom, and to shun evil is understanding.’ ” Job 28:28

A lot can be said of Job. When I hear his name, I immediately think – strength. He certainly stayed faithful to God and despite what happened to him, he knew that God was with him. If anyone can tell us about what God meant, I believe Job to be an excellent candidate. Having fear of the Lord is something that is wise for an individual to do. It certainly stands today; we should all have fear of the Lord our God. Not because of the “bad” that will happen to us but because He is our Father and we should live to His glory. Besides, not living to honor God will surely keep you from eternal life. God sent us His Son to take away all of our sins – a reconciliation with the Law if you will that does not give us a “free pass” but gives us eternal life by our faith in Him. It is wise to fear God. Job also tells us that if we shun evil (follow in the way of the Lord) we are demonstrating that we truly understand what God was trying to say all along. He is the way, the truth and the life. This message applied during Job’s time here on earth and now, in our time is fear the Lord and shun evil.  Can it be that simple?