I went go to see Les Miserables recently…I had always loved the book and the storyline, and this was my first opportunity to see it on stage. The experience was amazing, and the portrayal of Jean Valjean’s inner struggle to do the right thing really gripped me. He had committed a crime (breaking parole) early on in life, and despite all the good that he had since done and was continuing to do, he still felt compelled to pay the penalty he was due to pay (prison time). And that is right of him. That is how it should be. “Choose to sin, choose to suffer,” as my favorite pastor James MacDonald always says. There are always consequences for one’s actions, no matter what. And Valjean wanted to do the right thing, no matter what. He could have easily rationalized staying free, hiding from the law, and never turning himself in. He was truly saving lives on the outside (like Cosette’s)…but he continued to feel convicted about past wrongs – and wanted deep down to make it right.
I found that very noble, and not at all foolish. Too often we justify things and dismiss the Holy Spirit and what He is trying to tell us…and then we wonder why we can’t hear from God in other situations. It is because we have allowed that still, small voice to be drowned out in the noise of our own mental gymnastics. I mean seriously, how often do we do that on even a weekly basis???
For whosoever wants to love life and see good days…must keep his tongue from evil and his lips from deceitful speech. ~ 1 Peter 3:10
This reminded me of myself and my choices…and how as I get older I keep wanting to completely get rid of all forms and types of deception in my life. And I’ve definitely made a huge amount of progress in this area, but I find that sometimes I still am at least willing and hopeful that the “rules” are bent a little for me. This is very messed up. And actually kind of awful. The Bible talks about “not even a hint” of any kind of impurity in Ephesians 5:3. That definitely includes lies. Lies of commission, lies of omission…fibs, white-lies, half-truths, whatever. It’s all the same when – when you’re doing it – you feel a lack of peace about it. And we know that Satan is the Father all of all lies. So how could we allow ourselves to directly or indirectly agree with him…to side with him….to be on the same page as him? That is crazy. I want nothing to do with Him, ever, with him never having even so much as a toehold in my life. Life is way too difficult as it is. But, even though I know all this in my head, I still don’t always do the right thing.
I was thinking specifically about me on the sand volleyball court. I’m playing intramurals at my school, and so we have these weekly competitive games. And I have noticed that I am very quick and vocal to call out when an opponent’s ball clearly hits outside the lines…but when the opponent’s ball very possibly hits the lines (and is in) or definitely could have been in…I stay silent…and allow the line judge to make the call. Aaaarrrghhh. It’s like, I want to catch a break. And I definitely see this in other areas of my life and the lives of others…it’s like, we want to get away with something…as if, we are entitled to catch a break because a lot in life goes against us (depending on the orientation of our perspective, of course). But I don’t want to be like that, and I don’t want to think like that. I shouldn’t want to try to manipulate the situation just so I earn a point, or get a break.
I want to be someone who doesn’t have any part of my identity wrapped up in my team winning or losing the game. I want to be completely disassociated from the plays…and I don’t want to be hoping for breaks in judges’ calls. If I think that one of my hits was probably not in, I want to be able to loudly and boldly say that from my vantage point, that looked out, the point goes to the other team. Even if it’s match point. If I definitely don’t know, then I can remain silent…but when I kind of probably know…I want to be speak up because honesty is more important than anything else. Seeking righteousness is more important than anything else. And there is definitely a wrong and a right, and I remain silent in order to scheme out a point to benefit me, it is so wrong. And I can’t rationalize it away.
Seeking righteousness is more important than anything else. And there is definitely a wrong and a right, and I remain silent in order to scheme out a point to benefit me, it is so wrong. And I can’t rationalize it away.
Don’t I trust God enough that if I am honest, no matter what, He will take care of me? That He will surround me with favor like a shield (Psalm 5:3)? And not just when playing sports (like, protecting me from injury, or helping me to play my best even if we lose) but also in life (in relationships, in opportunities, in work, in health, in family stuff)? Is not God big enough to work things out for me in those areas – the areas that actually matter – if I am being completely honest in all of my dealings (including line calls during sand volleyball)?
And maybe you are thinking, my goodness, calm down, it’s just a volleyball game. But then I wonder how many times have I missed God speaking to me – and a golden chance to grow closer to Him and have His heart beat in sync with mine – because I trivialize the situation and discard the life lesson that can and should be extracted. God wants to teach us stuff all the time, through every experience. And I don’t want to miss out on Him because I’ve allowed my conscience to get seared through repeated neglect. Everything is about choices. And this is one that I am glad He has pointed out…. Because I want to keep growing. And I want to do the right thing. Because He deserves it.
I wonder how many times have I missed God speaking to me – and a golden chance to grow closer to Him and have His heart beat in sync with mine – because I trivialize the situation and discard the life lesson that can and should be extracted.
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