It never fails.
Every year, in the midst of the wet season, the heavens open and torrential rains soak the earth through and through. Softened soil makes it treacherous to walk on surfaces unrelated to concrete or asphalt and, invariably, a few trees topple for want of vital support.
There is an object lesson there that speaks to the soul.
It is only when the rains descend and the floods come that differences in maturity and character become evident.
Boisterous winds and torrential downpours will always separate the men of the plant world from the boys. A tree with roots that grasp only softened clay will fare no better in a thunderstorm than the drowning man who clutches at a straw. They will both likewise perish.
As it is in the natural world, so it is in the spiritual – we have need of roots that grasp Solid Rock. Bombarded as we are by every wind of doctrine, we must lay hold on the Living Word of God as our only standard of righteousness.
If you have survived for years, though guilty of merely brushing up against the Rock, faulty human logic may dictate that: ‘if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it’. But failure to address serious character flaws will only reap dire consequences.
A mere brushing against Rock will not suffice when rains descend.
It is only by becoming ensconced within a cleft of the Rock – by feasting on the truths in God’s Word and learning total dependence on Him – that we build characters which can endure the storms ahead.
For the Christian, an understanding of doctrine is crucial to the work of character-building for, while we are saved by grace through faith in Christ, we are judged by our deeds (Ecclesiastes 12:14). If actions done repeatedly form habits that will inevitably determine the quality of one’s character, and character determines destiny– there is no way around it. The belief system that informs our choices lies at the core of the equation.
God desires that we should move beyond the basics:
Whom shall he teach knowledge? and whom shall he make to understand doctrine? them that are weaned from the milk, and drawn from the breasts. (Isaiah 28:9)
Christ-followers must know why they believe what they believe, and that ‘why’ must be grounded firmly in the word of God. Precept upon precept, line upon line, here a little and there a little (Isaiah 28:10). To this end, Christ promised that the Holy Spirit – who will not speak contrary to the principles of God’s Kingdom – would be with His people to guide them into all truth (John 16:13).
The opinions of learned men, the deductions of science, the creeds or decisions of ecclesiastical councils, as numerous and discordant as are the churches which they represent, the voice of the majority,— not one or all of these should be regarded as evidence for or against any point of religious faith. Before accepting any doctrine or precept, we should demand a plain “Thus saith the Lord” in its support.” ~The Great Controversy, page 596 [emphasis mine]
In matters of faith, ‘Pastor says’ must never take precedence over ‘The Bible says’.
Human opinions may offer an illusion of stability, but when the rain descends, the floods come and the soil shifts beneath our feet, it is the characters built on the unchanging principles of God’s word that will endure.
Prove all things; hold fast that which is good. (1 Thessalonians 5:21)
Dig deep, my friend. Dig deep.
Though the heavens fall.
Images: Pixabay (CC0 Public Domain)
Love is in the air! So the merchants say, as they prepare to foist their wares upon unsuspecting souls.
The new year barely settles in before Santa makes way for Cupid and his stash of chocolates, fluffy white bears and all things red and heart-shaped. Opportunistic advertisers pull out all the stops. They may find homes for that unsold champagne yet. Time to rework that New Year’s Day jingle…
All this while oodles of cheese and Easter bun orders linger in the wings.
Ah, yes! ‘Love’ is in the air alright – the love of money and commercialisation. Merchants ring their bells, promote a single night of passion and excitement, and they depend on the Pavlovian response of giddy couples to line their cavernous pockets.
*whisper* I need to share something with you that the advertisers will never tell you. Are you ready for it?
When you reside on this tiny island out in the Caribbean Sea, you live among folk with complexions that run the gamut of chocolate colour gradient – from white chocolate all the way up to the darkest cacao nib possible.
There is no such thing as a purebred Jamaican because there is no single physical or genetic trait that we all share. Our bloodlines reach out beyond these shores to Europe, Africa, Asia and beyond, so our Jamaican-ness is either defined by birthplace or naturalised citizenship. To that end – our motto rings true:
Out of Many, One People.
In this neck of the woods, no one kills you because you have the wrong skin tone. They kill you because you have what they desire – money, vehicle, jewellery… body – and it is unlikely that you are going to hand it to them on a silver platter. There are those of questionable mental health who will kill for the love of politics, and they show up in varying hues.
Family feuds and gang wars will sometimes lead to beheadings or bodies pumped full of lead but our news bulletins list only the names and ages of the victims. Physical descriptions appear only in the absence of such information – as mere identifiers, not character references.
For what can the skin tone tell of one’s character?
That is how long I lived with my family of origin before striking out on my own. There were the odd ‘extended stays’ beyond that, but those were not solid, uninterrupted blocks of time since I resided elsewhere, so – for the purpose of this post – I will exclude them.
Eighteen years. One month. One day.
That is how long I have been married to my beloved… I have now lived with my husband longer than I did with my family of origin. This does not make me a marriage expert by a long stretch, so feel free to take anything I say with several grains of salt.
J and I were probably the most unlikely candidates for long-term cohabitation. My family of origin looked reasonably sound from the outside but was seriously divisive on the inside, with divorced parents to boot. If a search was launched to find the least conspicuous whitewashed sepulchre, I am convinced that my family would have won the blue ribbon. Hands down. My beloved had parents who lived separate lives and his family life was colourful, to say the least.
No psychologist in their right mind would recommend such a union… but it was not up to a psychologist to decide.