Tuesday, July 29, 2014

Of Old Cows And Angels

The other Sunday at the worship service a family friend gave a talk. He shared a story – a funny one but it also includes an important lesson. The story was about a now grown up man he knows.

A few decades ago, when this man was but a boy, he got lost with his brother in the forest near their home. They were lost for a good while and sun began to set. It started to get late. Frustrated and anxious, not knowing where to go, the two brothers kneeled in prayer in the middle of the forest that they would find a way home.

The boys got up and decided to walk a distance to one direction. "The forest should end at some point", they thought. When that didn't happen they returned where they started and took the opposite direction. The forest didn't end there either.

Soon they heard a familiar sound, a cow's bell. That meant there was a field near by and that meant they would find their home. The boys followed the sound and it did lead them out. Upon night fall, old cows with their ringing bells wander back home. They know where to go.

So instead of sending an angel, a glowing light or something equally "out of this world" God sent an old cow to the rescue. God could've done anything to get the brothers out. He could've guided someone there. He could've made the trees form a path. The birds would've flown in an arrow formation with exclamation marks by His command. He has all the power to fulfill all His words. Instead He sends an old obedient cow to pass by close enough for them to hear it's bell ring.

What does this tell of how God works?

First this story tells me that God is an economic God. He uses His resources wisely. He does not take the faster-than-sound golden Lamborghini when a well used grand-ma's bicycle with just one gear does the job.

Then this story tells me that God always gives us the privilege of thinking ourselves and then choosing if we want to take a possibility. He rarely if ever gives us the easy way out. He will have us work for our blessings.

The opposing side would give the credit to good luck and call it a fortunate coincidence when these boys heard the cow bell. This is where some instead of doubt, decide to have faith that there is a God who is well aware of our circumstances and where-abouts. If these small miracles are of God or coincidence, it is impossible to prove to an other person. Those who are sincerely willing to seek and receive answers will get them for themselves.

Miracles are for the strengthening of those involved, not to be used a proof for a questioning mind. Like old cows with their bells, they come to the faithful who believe.

Godspeed, my Friends!

Sunday, July 13, 2014

Precious Silence

Home in Finland we say silence is more precious than gold. This might have something to do with the culture of not saying too much and when saying something saying only what is necessary. This is just a stereotype but like all stereotypes it does have a grain of truth in it. In addition to this cultural message, this saying has another important lesson for the reader.

Think of the heart ache, quarrel, fights, enmity, bad feelings, conflicts and unnecessary warfare. It is not an all-encompassing reason nor the ultimate over-arching root of all evil but a good part of it is caused by audible spoken words. Some are uttered purposefully and some are voiced by accident or without thinking too much. Most clearly the damage of words is visible in the lives of ordinary people. Broken friendships, shattered families and disappearing self-esteem are the most common products of it.

Words do not only damage their target. They always have an effect on their speaker. I would describe the effects binding and manipulative or persuasive.

Words bind their speaker to what has been said. Naturally words do not have a forcing effect but they do set expectations, make the speaker responsible and/or, pressure him or her to act accordingly. A liar must either reveal the hoax or keep lying. A boaster must live up to his or her claims or cause disappointment. Also when thoughts turn into words, they become sharper and stronger. If an individual repeatedly goes about audibly hating while actually being just irritated, that irritation eventually becomes hatred.

Everyone have surely heard of the path how thoughts lead to words and words lead to actions. I recognize that there are some who would argue this and even reject the idea. I don't claim that mere audible expression of a thought immediately makes one to act. What I do claim and believe and have experienced very personally is that words are an agitator and an ingredient for escalation. Speaking of your thoughts boosts the likelihood of them actually happening.

Christ was confronted by scribes and pharisees from Jerusalem. They came blaming Christ's disciples of not following the traditions established by the jewish elders. "Why do thy disciples transgress the tradition of the elders? For they wash not their hands when they eat bread." Christ took this as an opportunity to teach the people around the scene.

"Not that which goeth into the mouth defileth a man; but that which cometh out of the mouth, this defileth a man." This was the simple lesson. 

To defile means to corrupt the purity or perfection of something or somebody. Words we speak mirror and amplify our inner being. They either help us to be uplifted or they drag us down. What we say can cause unnecessary tears. If correction is needed, don't speak everything that comes to your mind.

Watch yourselves, my friends! Don't let your guard down and be active in going about doing and saying much good.