Life is Like a, Um, Funnel [Noval]

funnel

You satisfy my soul with Your faithful love.  All around me I see evidence of Your faithfulness. 

I am the Bread of Life.  Didn’t I tell you, those who come to Me will have living waters flowing out of them?   Joy, peace, contentment, satisfaction in your soul.  I am your Portion and your Reward.   

Thank you, Lord.  You’re teaching me to delight in the simplest of pleasures.  Breakfast with my friend; running errands and lunch with my honey.  Praying a blessing on our waitress.  Chatting with Mimi (a long time friend and artisan who’s doing some jewelry repair for Sheryl).  Walking in joy, walking in love.

Wasn’t that fun? 

Fun indeed!   There’s a balance here I’m trying to get my head around.  On the one hand, I know You call us to live lives of discipline, self-control, wisdom. To live strategically.  All of the stuff in Proverbs about prudence, discretion, thrift, diligence, hard work and so forth.  And yet it seems to me that some of the most thrilling and satisfying and even fruitful aspects of life are sort of serendipity, random opportunities to connect with someone, have a meaningful conversation, see You at work in someone’s life.  They’re not planned; they just sort of come.  

They’re really complementary concepts.  There’s no conflct between discipline and wisdom on the one hand and freedom, adventure and true pleasure on the other.   Think about Bill Gothard’s illustration of the funnel.  Life’s like a big funnel lying on its side, he said.  You can choose which end you’re going to enter into.  If you follow Jesus’ (and the Proverbs’) counsel and enter into the narrow end of self-denial, discipline, humility, repentance and restraint, eventually you come out into the wide spaces where there’s freedom, more choices, more options, and more soul satisfaction.  

The problem most folks have is that the wide end of the funnel (what Jesus called the broad road leading to destruction) looks way more appealing, so that’s where they head.  They enter the wide end with their health, ignoring any restraints on what they do or don’t do with their bodies or what they put into them and they wind up restricted- by disease, obesity, digestive problems, shortness of breath, lack of stamina- all limits and restraints on their physical freedom.  There’s a certain truth to the gym rat’s proverb: no pain, no gain. 

Same thing with money.  My servant Larry Burkett came along in the 70’s preaching the narrow road with personal finances: discipline, saving, budgeting, living within your means, giving, stewardship, trust.  Those who listened have been able to weather the economic storms of the 21st century with their ships afloat.  They have freedom, not the bondage of debt, envy, marital stress and strife, bankruptcy, foreclosures and short sales. 

Or think about relationships.  The married couple that walks the narrow way with each other, being diligent with communication, forgiveness, honesty, humility, mutual sacrifice and service ultimately find the broad, delightful space of intimacy, companionship, friendship, romance, peace. 

I don’t contradict Myself.  I promised living water and abundant life to those who follow Me, and I also urged you to take up your cross daily, deny yourself and follow Me on the road of humility, self-sacrifice, surrender and service. 

The fact that the fruit and the pleasures on the broad end often seem like fun surprises, “serendipity” as you put it, comes from the fact that, the more you surrender to Me and follow Me on the narrow path, as it were, the more I’m able to direct you to where the sweetest fruit is.  Proverbs 3:5-6 and all that.

 Trust in the Lord with all your heart

    and lean not on your own understanding;
in all your ways submit to him,
    and he will make your paths straight

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