OUT OF BALANCE

Ever have a sense that you are just a little out of whack, a bit off kilter, just a mite out of balance?

We were driving through the Great Smoky Mountains and I spotted this tree, that seems to epitomize that feeling.

Branch to side of tree 100_3446
Tree with branch growing along ground

I really have no idea how this happened, but it appears that the tree grew strong and tall, while a branch at ground level just moved to the right and then began growing alongside the tree.  It is clearly alive and well, just a bit out of kilter.

Then there are the trees that have been traumatized by raging forest fires, but which still remain standing, even though scarred.  Here is an example from Yosemite National Park showing the giant sequoia tree and its fire scar. 

USED Sequoia fire scar through tree (C)
Giant Sequoia Tree burned clear through from forest fire, still growing and healthy notwithstanding the injury received.

This fire scar has burned all the way through the tree so that you can walk through the tree without harming it.  The tree itself is many stories tall!

Trees, that sustain rearrangement or injury, can grow and thrive even after their injury occurred.  Indeed, great swaths of forest undergo fire damage on a routine basis and the result is that the forest regrows, healthier and stronger than it was before.  In fact, some trees, like the giant sequoia trees, require heat from the fire to open their seed pods; the seeds then need cleared ground so they can germinate and grow, something that they would not have but for the forest fire!

My problem is that when I am undergoing something difficult, I tend to think that it is bad, that no one has ever had this type of injury, in other words I go through a pity party of no small stature.  I might not express this outwardly, but inside I am drowning in in it. 

As a Christian, however, this is not the way I am to respond to difficulty.  We know that difficulty comes to everyone.  If persecution attacked our Lord Jesus Christ throughout his ministry, we certainly should not be surprised when hard times come upon us.

Paul admonished Timothy to be aware of these things:

But understand this, that in the last days there will come times of difficulty.  For people will be lovers of self, lovers of money, proud, arrogant, abusive, disobedient to their parents, ungrateful, unholy, heartless, unappeasable, slanderous, without self-control, brutal, not loving good, treacherous, reckless, swollen with conceit, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God,  having the appearance of godliness, but denying its power. Avoid such people. … But as for you, continue in what you have learned and have firmly believed, knowing from whom you learned it and how from childhood you have been acquainted with the sacred writings, which are able to make you wise for salvation through faith in Christ Jesus.  All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness, that the man of God may be complete, equipped for every good work.

2 Timothy 3:1-5, 14-17

How should I respond to difficult times?  Not by holding a pity party!  Rather, I should turn to the Scripture because this is the only Source that is profitable for:

Teaching – I will learn from the experience or difficulty

Reproof – Reproof can be said to be criticism for a fault.  It is from reproof that I will learn what should be removed from my life.

Correction – The reproof rightly received will result in correction of the error of my ways, my thoughts, my motives, my desires, etc.  The Holy Spirit will use the Word to correct that which He identifies as being in error.

Training in righteousness – Then, the Holy Spirit will be able to train my in the way of righteousness, because I have learned from the difficulties experienced.

What is the purpose of this teaching, reproof, correction, and training?  Paul tells Timothy what the purpose is … that the man (woman) of God may be complete, equipped for every good work. 

You see, I may do a great many things that are good to do, but we need the Holy Spirit to prepare us to do good works for the Lord.  If we do good things in our own strength, we are doing them ourselves and they have no heavenly significance.  They may feather our cap in this world, but in the judgment, but earthly treasures are temporal, subject to destruction and theft.   Not so with heavenly treasures!

Do not lay up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy and where thieves break in and steal, but lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust destroys and where thieves do not break in and steal.”

Matthew 6:19-20

When we do good works for God through the power of the Holy Spirit, rather than in my own power, they resound in Heaven to the glory of our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ.

So, when I am upset by circumstances, by some hurtful word uttered against me, or by a slight that brings humiliation, my response should not be a pity-party.  Rather, the response should be a turn to the Word and reliance on the Holy Spirit to teach, reprove, correct. and train me in righteousness.

Don’t be out of whack, a bit off kilter, or a mite out of balance.  Don’t descend into the pit of self-pity.  Rejoice because your Lord and Savior loves you, has forgiven your sins, has brought you into the family of God, and has given you eternal life.  Everything else is, quite simply, irrelevant!

Praise the Lord that He has not left us alone but that He has given us His Word and His Spirit as our comfort, guide, and strength, even in difficult times like the COVID 19 pandemic!

Father, You are the Author and Creator of all things.  You know the end from the beginning.  You know all things, omniscience, You are all powerful, omnipotent, You are everywhere at all times, omnipresent.  Such power is beyond my comprehension, especially when I remember that You sent Your Son to die for my sins.  Such love is also beyond my comprehension.  Forgive me when I drift into self-pity or fear of difficult times.  Remind me to cast all my fears, apprehensions, concerns, problems, difficulties at the foot of the cross because You have borne them for me already.  Then let me praise Your Holy Name and glorify You with my thanksgiving.

WHAT DO I HAVE TO DO WITH MENTORING?

Mentor.  Life coach.  Guide.

All these, and more, are terms we hear in our culture today reflecting the need for persons to come alongside younger, more inexperienced, people so that they can be taught and encouraged to persevere in their chosen endeavors.

According to Merriam-Webster, a mentor is someone who teaches or gives help and advice to a less experienced and often younger person; a trusted counselor or guide, a tutor or coach.  The term comes from literature of ancient Greece.  In The Odyssey, written by Homer, Odysseus had an infant son when he went to war, and he was gone 20 years.  During that time, his son, Telemachus, was supervised and taught by an old and trusted friend named Mentor.  Thus, today, we use the word mentor to describe anyone who is a positive, guiding influence in another, usually younger, person’s life.

 

Mentoring is discussed in Scripture as a way of life for the believer in the Lord Jesus Christ.  In Titus chapter 2, Paul is advising the church about personal relationships within the church, i.e., mentoring:

Older women likewise are to be reverent in behavior, not slanderers or slaves to much wine. They are to teach what is good, and so train the young women to love their husbands and children, to be self-controlled, pure, working at home, kind, and submissive to their own husbands, that the word of God may not be reviled.

Titus 2:3-5.

 

In thinking about what mentoring is, I realized that there is much more to it than meets the eye.  Yes, there certainly is an aspect of teaching to it, but there is also gentle guidance, attentive listening, and there is attention to the example that I am setting for others.  Indeed, mentoring is more “watch me and do as I do” not just “do what I tell you to do”.

 

So, what are some of the things that we can teach others?  Here are a few ideas.  I am confident that there are a host of other things, so please give some additional ideas for those who read this post.

At the office (C)
At the office working on the keyboard, just like you do, Dad!

 

The value of mental exercise and work.  When there is a puzzle about something, work it out … stay with it and keep thinking about it until you come up with a solution.  If there truly is no solution, then identify the way around the roadblock so that you can continue on toward the goal that you have set.

 

JDD playing keyboard
Making music and feeling happy with the sounds!

The value of music and of expressing yourself in ways other than speech.  Let music speak to you if you are emotionally drained, and let music reflect your feelings when you are elated!

 

Evans Day 041
Investigate and ruminate on what you see!

The value of being inquisitive and of exploring the world around us.  Think about something new every day.

 

Go cart with grandpa
Grandfather and grandson having fun together on the go-cart track!

 

The value of play.  Take time to do something fun and if you can share the fun with others, that is even better.  Also, take time to be alone and play, read, take part in some hobby, think about your goals and aspirations, learn who you are in the solitude of quiet time.

 

The value of relationships within the family.  Cherish the older generation and listen to the stories they can share about the relatives who no longer are with us, and about you when you were young!

 

graduation from kindergarten
Kindergarten graduation emphasizes the importance of learning and of doing well in school.

The value of an education.   College is not for everyone, but learning most definitely is!  Never stop learning and always cherish the opportunity to enlarge your mind without losing your focus!  Keep up on the news.  Read fiction for fun and non-fiction for fun and to expand your outlook and perspective.  Study and learn daily, even if you are not “in school” – there are always lessons to be learned if we keep our spirits attentive!

 

 

Garden - Monticello
The vegetable garden at Monticello, Virginia. Beautiful and well maintained, and thus it is productive!

 

Plant something, even if it is only a few flowers in a pot.  Watch God work in His nature as they grow and bloom, providing food and beauty for you.  [But, don’t forget to water it! J ]

 

The value of setting a goal and working hard to reach it.  Once you have identified the goal, then go after it, even if it is a tough climb!

 

Falling off
Falling off the rock, with the risk managed by the rope!

The value of taking risks, while being responsible in how you do it.  Be prepared to fail, but try to minimize the damage if failure does occur.   And, remember that failure does not have to be permanent, unless you let it define who you are; it might just be a setback from God which is designed to redirect your focus to get you on the path that He has ordained for you.

 

Cannon at Jamestown
One of the cannons on the battlefield at Jamestown, Virginia.

The value of restraining your anger and providing a peaceful resolution to difficulties.

Whoever is slow to anger has great understanding, but he who has a hasty temper exalts folly.

Proverbs 14:29

Good sense makes one slow to anger, and it is his glory to overlook an offense.

Proverbs 19:11

 

Bible
The Holy Bible, God’s Word to us for our edification, training and instruction in righteousness.

The value of honoring the Word of God.  Read God’s Word every day, think about it and learn it.  Study it and learn it so that it is not just in your head but also in your heart.

I have stored up your word in my heart, that I might not sin against you.

Psalm 119:11

A child once told his father that he knew what the Bible was:

Basic Instructions Before Leaving Earth.

 

Church with steeple
Church with steeple stands as a reminder throughout the week that worship occurs here. “Worship the LORD in the splendor of holiness.” I Chronicles 16:29.

 

The value of sharing your faith in the Lord Jesus Christ.  Invite others to church with you.  Take your children to Sunday School and church and attend with them, don’t just drop them off for a free babysitter!  We cannot give anyone else salvation; that is a work of God through the Holy Spirit.  But, we can testify to others about who Jesus Christ is and about our relationship with Him as our Savior.

But what does it say? “The word is near you, in your mouth and in your heart” (that is, the word of faith that we proclaim); because, if you confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved.  For with the heart one believes and is justified, and with the mouth one confesses and is saved.  For the Scripture says, “Everyone who believes in him will not be put to shame.”

Romans 10:8-11.

 

Mentoring – a Scriptural activity that is worth our time and attention.

 

Father, I pray that you would lead me as I contemplate mentoring.  I read your Word that this should be done, and I pray that you would guide me as I reach out and seek to honor your Word.  Forgive me when I have ignored your prompting to do this in the past, and give me strength and wisdom to move forward in Your strength through the Holy Spirit, for Your honor and glory alone.