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Archive for October, 2012

More than Relationship

The Prophet redemptive gift often gets ridiculed for their black and white, principles prevail, die on the cross of truth approach to life.  A
Prophet will do or believe something simply because it is right (or they think it is right), with no foreseeable benefit, and in fact, even in the face of great persecution and cost of relationship.  But even though the Prophet may be prickly at times, there is something incredibly trustworthy and comforting about a Prophet who has their moral compass in the right place.  It won’t move for nuthin’.

I admire them greatly for that.

The rest of us are generally more easily swayed by the influence of others, by our relationships, and by the opinions of those we consider important.  The Prophet may have to work to maintain relationship, the rest of us have to work to maintain our bedrock of beliefs.

This topic has been in the forefront of my consciousness lately because of a recent discussion with someone.  You know, not all revelations are nice to receive.  Sometimes you see something grand and beautiful and you can hear heaven singing over this gem of a truth.  Other times you see something rather dirty and dingy, some hidden piece of selfishness that smells as bad as rotten milk.  Yet both can bring glorious freedom.  Go figure.

In this particular case the person realized that relationship was the primary determining factor for the excellence of their performance.  There was a low-end established threshold, but relationship was what determined how hard they would try, when they would invest deeper effort, and when they would stop.  If the relationship began to level out and reach positive numbers, well, the focus on performance would quickly drop to whatever the established norm was in that area.

Perhaps this doesn’t sound all that strange.  We often change our behavior because of someone else.  A spouse may change their habits, a boyfriend may dress better, a teenager may get good grades so she can go to a party over the weekend, an employee may work to get a raise from his boss – these are all normal life occurrences.  But just because they are normal doesn’t mean they are right, or anywhere near the best.

What about an internal compass of excellence?

For the particular person in question, this was a startling and horrifying realization, and gave some perspective on relationship difficulties they were having.  The horrifying part was realizing just how much the performance hinged on relationship and what that said about their own internal standard.  Yikes.

What is your internal compass of excellence?  When a relationship starts to improve, do you let up on your improvements?  It is not wrong to be inspired to change because it would benefit someone you love.  But your change should maintain itself because it is something you believe in, not because it is simply a response to the pressure from outside.

I think this can be a particularly challenging dynamic for the two most relationship focused gifts, the Exhorter and the Mercy.  For these two gifts, relationship is life.  The Exhorter needs people, the Mercy needs a person.  In either case, the standard can easily be dictated by the flux of relationship, and so naturally that the Exhorter or Mercy may not even realize they are doing it.  If you are either of these two gifts, I would strongly encourage you to take an honest look at the reality of what drives your behavior.

The ultimate relationship with which we should be concerned is our relationship with God.  But even aside from that, I wonder if we have something more to learn from how He designed the Prophet.  A Prophet can be an atheist and will still find a compass in some perception of truth, distorted as it may be.  The Prophet seems wired to find the eternal truth, tapping into the nature of God, not just the relationship with Him.  Of course, it should be our deepest desire to please God, to strengthen our relationship in every way possible.  But I think that even deeper still, we can resonate with the Truth and the Right of Who He is.

What is your compass?

Dare to ask.

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Swirling Emotions

“The one who had denied Him
Who had once walked on the water
Jumped in and swam to Him
To be confronted on the shore.”
-Stranger on the Shore by Michael Card

 

Have you ever wondered what Peter was feeling when they recognized that the stranger on the shore was Jesus?

Joy?  Fear?  Dread?  Desperation?  All of the above?

Maybe it was the first time Peter saw Jesus after He had risen from the dead.  Some commentaries theorize that it was so.  Perhaps it was not.  Probably Peter had already seen Him somewhere else.  But could one or even two brief encounters assuage the deep grief and remorse over his denial?  So far as we know from Scripture, if he did see Jesus earlier, there was not a private conversation between them.  Yet the unbelievable (though predicted!) had happened.  Jesus was not dead.  How could Peter possibly let another opportunity go by without making things right?

Perhaps Peter thought he could have a moment alone with Jesus while the others were tending to the boat and the fish.  Perhaps he somehow knew this would be the last time they would see Him.  Perhaps he didn’t think at all.  Perhaps it was a surging tidal wave of emotion that propelled him over the side of the boat and into the water.

I only wonder.  As I was recently listening to this old favorite by Michael Card, I felt the lyrics in a whole new way – aching with the intensity of emotions from such a scene.  Jesus is standing on the shore.  He is not dead. A glorious hope cut through the gloom in Peter’s soul.  Maybe he would not live the rest of his life with the crushing guilt of denial.  As humans we know the finality of death all too well.  Hearts can’t be mended, apologies can’t be made, hatchets can’t be buried.  It is over.

But Jesus is alive.  Yet, still, the grief over what had been done.  How could he approach the Lord?  What a juxpositioning of joy, dread, and desperation.

All of this Jesus well knew.  Was it possible that He rigged the whole thing solely for the redemption of Peter?

We do not have record of any private conversation until Jesus began asking Peter about love.  I wonder how much Peter actually comprehended what Jesus was doing.  Perhaps not entirely, since he was offended by the third question.  But restoration had happened, through the infinite wisdom and tenderness of the Master.  What Jesus had said long ago, even then knowing what Peter would do, was still true.  Peter would be the rock on which He would build the church.

How I wonder how many things changed in Peter that day.  Amid the swirling emotions, whether he knew it or not, he had experienced the power of life over death.  Life conquered the grave to give him a precious gift of reconciliation in the flesh, and even more so, a testament to the restoration of our souls.

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