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|Off the beaten path
Wednesday, 05 April 2006 @ 07:07 pm SGT
Contributed by: Yinghuo Chong
Here in the US we moved our clocks forward one hour earlier last weekend to change to summer daylight savings. I did that dutifully, adjusting my watch according to how my husband fixed the time on our little clock in our bathroom that morning.
Last Sunday was also my turn to play the piano for a little group at an old age home. So when I went to them and they told me they had been waiting for one hour, and I was late, I was perplexed.
“Did you not know that we moved our clock forward?” Of course I did. I changed my time. They were mistaken, I was right. I was so positive.
When I finally realized that they were right and I was the one who was wrong, I became completely disoriented, having gone through the past two hours on what I thought was the right time.
I had been down this road once before when I was completely lost trying to get somewhere. I had oriented myself according to my own wrong perceptions, blissfully unaware that I was getting more and more lost. And when it occurred to me that I was lost, I was in such a state of confusion.
I looked back at what happened two hours earlier that morning. I had a lot of time, enjoying a slow breakfast with my husband. I even went into a shop to kill time, thinking this shop must really offer a special service on Sunday by opening earlier. Then because I was early for my group, I sat in the car and waited.
All the time I was operating one hour late. I apologized profusely to my group. One woman said many people would forget and I was not the only one. But I did not forget. As I asked for their forgiveness, one man refused to look me in the eye and seemed angry.
I felt so bad for not being there for them. I felt I had disappointed that one man especially.
We sang a few more songs before that man said, “Service ends at 10.30 am.” And I read that as a hint that I should keep to schedule. My time was up, and I couldn’t make it up.
So I said a short prayer, and ended it.
But in the midst of this, I was gripped, I think, by the conviction of the Holy Spirit. In my mind, I knew it was an honest mistake—not that I was not aware that there was a time change but I adjusted it incorrectly. Still, I felt bad for letting them down.
My spirit would not let go and a grief struck with surprise. It really was not a major issue. Disappointment remained.
This truth hit me. I could be in such error and can operate under that state of wrong-ness whilst being completely oblivious to it. The uncanny thing was in that state, my mind adjusted and even twisted everything to convince me of my “truth.” I should have been alerted when the shop was open so early. No, I had actually convinced myself out of the truth.
Where was I?
I felt the Holy Spirit teach me that this is exactly like being in a state of transgression. I can be on the wrong path--completely lost, and be totally ignorant of it. Everything I perceive and do then is based on that lie. Then when confronted with truth, I can tweak it to tailor to my view. How frightening.
Is that the state I am in spiritually? I am not even talking about sin where I willfully walk against what the LORD commands. I am talking about transgression. Are there issues in my life where I am living my life and walking the walk according to what I think the LORD has instructed me, all the while doing what is interpreted and understood wrongly?
Could the church be in such a state of transgression? Are our bearings really set by Jesus? Or are we still in one of those “are you of Paul, of Apollos, of Cephas or of Jesus” situations? How much of what we “practice” is an inheritance of the early church fathers, those who walked and learned directly from our Lord? How much of it is learned from founders dating to 2 AD, or even 2000AD?
Some lessons I have been following to understand the Jewish perspective of Scripture and studying Hebrew root words have led me to think of the need to change the course of my walk. I believe that if we start a walk only a little bit away from what Jesus intended, we would find ourselves quite far from where he is when we keep on walking. Like being lost and not knowing it.
I wonder at some of the things we do to “serve” the LORD. We can be so successful developing various ministries. Armed with our management and teaching skills and technical support, we come up with some really impressive programs, reaching hundreds of people. How much of that success comes from man’s learning, and how much of it is done in line with the Holy Spirit?
How do we know that what we do is really what Jesus wanted for us? Would he have enjoyed as many meetings, as many planning sessions? As many hours away from our family? More planning than prayer? Do you sometimes feel that church is much more complicated than what Jesus has intended it to be?
Don’t get me wrong. I am blessed by his people--those who love Jesus will all their heart. I actually even like many of the people I go to church with.
But just suppose we are wrong about the way we approach church. Who are we disappointing? The answer humbles me. And yet, how wonderful that our Jesus has made up for our mistakes when we ourselves cannot do so, that the LORD is patient and has given us the Holy Spirit to refine us. That he is much more forgiving than man.
Gracious as the LORD is, he can use--even bless--our faltering, lost steps.
But imagine how it would be, though, if we really understood what he taught in exactly the way he meant it. I suspect it would jolt me into a different dimension of his truth.
Hearing what he led me through on Sunday encourages me to dig deeper into his word so that I can be sure that I am perfectly grounded in him. I want to seek his truth. What power would we then witness, what glory we would be able to give the LORD!