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Topic: Directions (02/02/04)
TITLE: Be Wiling to Ask for Directions
By Allan Wood
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Many -- if not, most -- tend to be resistant to asking for directions or being offered directions.
Perhaps it begins in childhood. Try to tell a child something and it is not uncommon to hear, "I know." Try to show child how to do something and the response may well be, "I can do it."
When it comes to this issue of asking for or being offered directions, I'm not just talking about men, who have a reputation for not being willing to ask for directions when seemingly lost. (Since I am willing to ask for directions, I suppose I'm not your typical guy.)
There are many ways we demonstrate our resistance to being directed. For instance, how do we respond to constructive criticism, which is often offered to us by someone who wants to help us in some way. Do we become offended or angry? If so, we are saying, in essence, "I don't need directions." Put differently, it is like we are saying we would rather remain ignorant or blinded to a flaw.
Perhaps we do handle constructive relatively well. But what about criticism that is not constructive, that comes at us from someone who is critical, a fault-finder, or even malicous? How do we respond to that kind of criticism? Here we may feel justified in being resistant or an angry.
But are we?
Jesus Christ was probably more criticized than anyone. He was accused of being born of an immoral mother, of being a glutton and drunkard, and even of having a demon. But we do not see him defending himself. Even when being unjustly sentenced to his execution, the Bible tells us that he remained silent. He did not try to save his life by defending himself. (Thank God!)
I remember a time when I was very reactive to someone who had said some pretty negative things about me -- things that, from my perspective, were not true. In my mind, I wrote many letters to try to straighten this person out. Then one day the Lord spoke to me, saying, "Let's look at the truth behind what they had to say." I was shocked and humbled. Suddenly, by God's revelation, I saw myself in a different light. (The Bible calls this repentance.) Even though my critic may have been ninety-five percent off, I was suddenly grieved over the five percent where that person was right. (Truth be told, that person may have been even more than five percent right.)
Taking this a bit further, even Satan, the enemy of our souls and the accuser of God's people, cannot easily attack where there is not some element of truth to give him ground for accusation. While we can claim Jesus' blood and righteousness as our protection, there may be times we might listen to the accusation to see if there may be some area God wants to bring revelation and change to our lives.
Regardless of whether the criticism is well meaning or not, we rob ourselves of the opportunity to grow as a person or to change when we are defensive or reactive.
Beyond all of this, God's word (Isa. 55) says that God's thoughts and way are not ours. In this same passage, the wicked are told to forsake their way and the unrighteous their
thoughts. In other words, God views ways of being and thinking that do not line-up with His ways and thoughts to be wicked and unrighteous. This being the case, we need to be continually humbling ourselves before God, saying with the Psalmist of old, "Search me, O God, and know my heart; try me and know my thoughts, and see if their be any wicked (Hebrew: hurtful, idolatrous) way in me and lead me in thy way everlasting."
Be willing to admit to God that you may be blind or lost, and then ask Him for directions. He is gracious to respond to such a prayer. In fact, He may even use someone to speak truth (insight) into into our lives. And I am not just addressing those who do not yet know the Lord. We who do know the Lord also need to be constantly asking God for directions. This is because we are blinded or deceived in areas of our thinking and perceptions and we need direction. The consequences of not being willing to ask God for directions could well have eternal consequences.