As I sit here monitoring my fluid intake like watching the TV news (1 cup of coffee, ~4 ounces of milk, and a 12 oz seltzer, so far today), another story of “God/Devil told me to do it” comes on. I look accusingly at the pint-sized angel and demon sitting on my shoulders, but they shrug their tiny shoulders in innocence. They know they can’t make me do anything – I have to choose. We’ve been through this before.
We all hear their voices, I believe. They whisper the good and the bad from their perfect positions, right there at ear-level. It’s our job to learn to listen – or not – and it’s a lesson I’ve just been retaught.
Just as we each have different gifts (Romans 12:6-8), we also have our own weaknesses. That’s why the scope of our problems is all relative. IOW some can handle their alcoholic drink, but not me. I can’t even start because I won’t stop. It took me decades to realize.
The thing is, when I hear from or about someone who does (something I now know I can’t do), there’s still a part of me that’s jealous and envious, and gets egged on by one voice. “Wouldn’t it be nice to be able to do such and such.” “Maybe you can handle it now.” “Wouldn’t you like to try it?” “Remember how much fun it was; how good it felt?” And for a moment, I’m tempted. Fortunately, these days, it doesn’t take much from the other voice. “How did that go for you, last time?”
So my re-education: Someone close to me is venturing to a place where I’ve been, from where I almost didn’t return. My good voice always told me to stay away from there, but I went anyway. And I thought about it today. But the old pattern of ignoring – or trying to avoid – my better thoughts reminded me of the story of Jonah. God whispered some good purpose, but Jonah ran off in the opposite direction. Until he learned. The hard way. I don’t like the hard way. And neither did the loved ones around me.
Instead, I prefer the story of Moses. As God’s chosen special-delivery man, he was going to have to do some public speaking. (I do like public speaking – your audience is just about guaranteed to listen to you.) Moses kept asking God to send someone else, until God said, “I will be with you when you speak. I will give you the words to say.” And then God even sent Aaron along with him to make the speeches. God provides the words, the mission, the purpose. Through the good voice.
All I have to choose is to listen.
But I need another seltzer. I have dialysis tomorrow, anyway.