Thursday, July 15, 2010

Flexible in the Holy Spirit

"...not doing thine own ways, nor finding thine own pleasure, nor speaking thine own words: Then shalt thou delight thyself in the Lord; and I will cause thee to ride upon the high places of the earth..." (Isaiah 58:13-14)

In his little book of essays, Rest for the Weary, Vance Havner shares something he heard old-time preacher, "Pappy Reveal, say many times. Reveal was the founder and director of the Evansville, Indiana Rescue Mission for many years, and during his tenure he brought in men of God like Billy Sunday, Gypsy Smith, Billy Graham, and Vance Havner to minister the Word of God to men women housed there. According to Havner, when you were in his presence, it would not be unusual to see "Pappy" suddenly drop his head and address his Lord about something that had just occurred to him. And hardly a day would go by, he said, without hearing the man say, "Lord, make us flexible in the power of the Holy Spirit."

Inflexibility may be a virtue when it comes to Biblical truths that deserve steadfast adherence, and personal convictions that call for personal loyalty; but it is only another word for stubbornness when the only thing in jeopardy is personal power and vindication. The inclination to "fight to hell and back" over things that have little to do with either Heaven or hell reveal more rancor than resolve. I'm not saying we should be so compliant that we are more like an echo in a discussion than a respondent. No one enjoys a one-way conversation for very long. But those among us who feel that the only worthy argument is our own, and the only methods worth adopting come from our own personal experience, are the least among us with whom others enjoy serving the Lord.

The danger of inflexibility is two-fold, I think. First, things that will not bend are in greater danger of breaking. Sturdy, unbending branches are great for climbing on, but it is the more flexible, bending trees that stand up to high wind and storms. They are able to spring back, usually to their original condition. The same is true of the unbending individual. He or she may appear always sturdy and confident, but storms that only sway others, may break him or her.

Second, things that will not bend can really hurt when you run into them! Sometimes we do need to be stopped in our tracks; but other times, we only need to be challenged to see all sides in our thinking. It is refreshing to be around someone who is willing to listen to our ideas without a kneejerk objection.

God, speaking through the prophet, Isaiah, gives a promise to those who are not dead set on having things their own way, or don't always have to be the one who's pleased, or who do not consider their own words more important than others': "Then shalt thou delight thyself in the LORD; and I will cause thee to ride upon the high places of the earth..." Pretty good reward for not always having to be "top dog," wouldn't you say?

I think I've decided to make old Pappy Reveal's prayer my own: "Lord, make ME flexible in the power of the Holy Spirit!"

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