An entanglement of beliefs

“A man who views the world the same at fifty as he did at twenty has wasted thirty years of his life.” – Muhammad Ali

I remember learning to drive a car.  The driver’s seat and I were always sweaty after a lesson or practice.  All those pedals, levers, pushing and not pushing, turning or not turning, dials and speed, brakes and accelerator, advice to do this and advice to not do that … and that was just inside the car!  There was “the outside” as well!!  Roads that weren’t straight … stop and give way lines … stop and go lights … pedestrians who might at any moment throw themselves in front of the car … and all those other cars on the road!!  … all driving too fast … all getting in the way … all expecting me to know what I was doing … and all with the capacity to kill someone or be killed!  This was fun?  This was NOT fun!

Fast forward thirty years?

The feet and hands do the inside bit, and the eyes and brain (and heart) do the outside bit.  How does that work?  No idea – it just does.  How do I “read” the behaviour of other drivers?  No idea – I just do.  How come I haven’t had an accident?  No idea – I just haven’t.  Do I stick to all the rules and regulations?  Most of the time.  Would I ever do less speed that the “speed limit”?  Oh yes – there are loads of times when “stuff around” means going much slower than the “limit”.  How would I know?  No idea – I just do.  Do I enjoy driving?  Most of the time yes.  Why?  Loads of reasons – but  they change from day to day.

Now “fast back” thirty years: “Don’t tell me all that stuff – what do I do next … ?”

How often do we entangle ourselves in the finer points of theological “nuance”, the subtleties of hair-splitting “belief”, the insistence that others “get it” simply because “I have got it (so it is obvious)”  How often do we ignore “Don’t tell me all that stuff right now!”  – how often do we insist others are told that stuff right now?  How often do we entangle ourselves in doubt, trepidation because someone said we should … because someone else said we shouldn’t?

I can – I do – I am right now.

This morning John the Baptist doubted.  This morning John the Baptist doubted his life, his “work”, his “mission”, his own hearing.  John was in prison for living his belief.  Under threat of death for living his calling.  Soon to be dead at the whim of one who believed she was offended, another who believed she was obligated to her mother, and yet another who believed he could not “lose face”.

An entanglement of beliefs.

Much has been written about these verses. This morning He brought me a simplicity.  A clarity.  A thought I would not have had thirty years ago.  And a thought I may not have thirty years from now.

‘Go and tell John what you have seen and heard: the blind receive their sight, the lame walk, the lepers are cleansed, the deaf hear, the dead are raised, the poor have good news brought to them. And blessed is anyone who takes no offence at me.’ Luke 17:22-23

I believe in questions.  I believe in curiosity.  I believe “A man who views the world the same at fifty as he did at twenty has wasted thirty years of his life.”

How can I not then also believe you have that same freedom?  How can I not allow you that same freedom?  How can I take offence at you?  And why would I want to?  Because you disagree with me?  Because you don’t get it as I get it?

Dear Paul, when you take offence you will always be saying: Don’t tell me all that stuff! Living and loving is not “driving a car” – living and loving is not finding the right beliefs – living and loving is finding the moment – where you and another “are” right now – how to share the moment – how to empower – liberate – build-up – finding out how to Love!  Blessed is ANYONE who takes no offence at me – anyone.”

Thirty years ago?  I would never even have dared imagine “He would speak to me”.  So why does He speak to me now?

I have no idea – He just does.


14 thoughts on “An entanglement of beliefs

  1. bravo! what an awesome article!! makes perfect sense now, and i can see what you’re saying putting it that way…hmmm, i will now see when offense tries to tackle me, i have only one choice and that is to love and let God bring me the understanding i need…
    thanks for this one, it helped add some liberation to my soul …blessings!!!

  2. Paul, I like the quote. One thing I have learned since my son’s death is that God is speaking to us in many ways….sometimes just a whisper, sometimes a shout; the problem is sometimes we are just not listening. Have you watched the movie, “Bruce Almighty?” There is a great message about how God goes to many lengths to get us to listen to Him. Actually, there are many messages in that film. One of my favorites.

    As always, I am touched by your devotional post this morning as I begin a new day.

    You know, I am glad I don’t think as I did thirty years ago.
    Hugs to you dear friend and brother.
    Dale, Brandon’s Mom

    • Hiya Dale – Thank you so much for these words. And I love that film!! And I love listening to His voice. And I am also glad that I don’t think as I did thirty years ago. And I so glad that you keep Brandon’s memory so vivid. Thanks Mum ((hug))


  3. Oh My goodness, Paul…. an affirmation….when I had finished writing my comment I went out to the livingroom to read the day’s devotion, December 16th in Jesus is Calling by Sarah Young….here is what it says:
    ” I AM speaking to the depths of your being. Be still so you can hear my voice. I speak in the language of Love. My words fill you with Life and Peace, Joy and hope. I desire to talk with all of my children but many are too busy to listen. The “work ethic” has them tied up in knots. They submit wholeheartedly to this taskmaster, wondering why they feel so distant from Me.
    Living close to Me requires making Me your first Love —your highest priority. As you seek my Presence above all else, you experience Peace and Joy in full measure. I am also blessed when you make Me first in your life. While you journey through life in My Presence, My Glory brightens the world around you.” Isaiah 50:4; Rev. 2:4; Isaiah 60:2

    • Dales, I saw this comment before answering the one above. And decide to treat them as two comments.

      Because I do not wish to come between you and Him. Because whatever I write here will add or take away not to your words, but to your moment in and with our Lord.

      So thank you. Thank you for sharing this moment in and with our Lord so tenderly, so lovingly, so beautifully! The connections He draws us towards are always magnificent. To be part of that connection today is a precious and sacred privilege. Thank you and thank you Lord. Amen.

  4. Hi Paul! I do a lot more pondering than usual these days….. these words are deep that you have shared. So helpful to me – who has been very frustrated lately with others, whom I love, not going forward. Those stuck for “thirty years” – yet, are they? I need to love and back off and let Holy Spirit do what is necessary – on their speed limit 😉
    Thank you, my Friend, for sharing your heart.

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