Friday, September 14, 2012

Making things straight

This week's Bible Lesson on Matter encourages us strongly to 'make things straight'. We can take comfort from one of my favorite passages in Isaiah, which appears in the Responsive Reading. "Every valley shall be exalted, and every mountain and hill shall be made low, and the crooked shall be made straight, and the rough places plain". (Isa 40:4)  I use this a lot in my practice as people call to get help for depression, or struggle with what appears to be a mountainous problem, or seem to be going through a rough place in their experience. There have not been as many applications for making crooked things straight. But then, I started to think more deeply about that when it showed up so often this week.

The Golden Text instructs us in a very direct way to have nothing to do with silly myths. When you start to look around you see plenty of those and some of them are pretty crooked indeed. Last night there was an ad on tv about how women, affected by aging, begin to have a crooked back. The news is filled with examples of crooked dealings in the business world. Crooked can mean having bends, curves or angles. It also means dishonest and unscrupulous. Some people are dealing with that belief connected with legal matters that seem so hard to understand or advisors who do not give the best advice. You might even see lots of bends and angles in the current political campaigns.You might be dealing with a relationship at home or where you work that seems to need straightening out.  It can be a bit much. The above passage assures us that even these crooked places can be made straight. The solution is to see God's complete and perfect control. A favorite hymn refers to that as Love's sweet control. Continuing in the Responsive Reading we find God's promise renewed "I will make crooked things straight". (Isa 42:16)

An interesting example of dealing with crooked situations is also found in this Lesson. Daniel is confronted with the crooked dealings of those men who were jealous of the King's regard for him. Our Wednesday evening service included the story of Saul, who  was determined to put those crooked followers of the Christ where they belonged, in chains headed for punishment in Jerusalem. In both cases there loomed the threat of being in the lions' den.

Daniel did not obey a foolish law about praying only to Darius. When tossed into the lions' den as a  result, he did not waste time railing at the king or the men who had engineered this crooked thing. He prayed to know that he was protected by his innocence. He had not offended God and God would straighten this out. God did. He sent angels who shut the lions' mouths, not to mention the mouths of those who were saying false things about Daniel.

Saul headed to Damascus stomping along in a hurry to capture those upstart believers in Jesus as the Christ. Boy was he going to straight them out! You can just picture him marching along, arms flailing, shouting out threats and curses. (None of us would ever appear like this of course) He is not allowed to reach his destination in that frame of mind. The Christ appears to him and straightens out his false belief. The man who meant to lead other captive must himself be lead into the city. He had been blinded by his zealous thoughts and would need healing on many levels, lots of crooked things made straight. Those Christians would not be facing the lions that week.  Saul, who is soon to use the name Paul, is not the only one who gets straightened out in this account. Ananias, a devout Christian, is told to go to Saul and heal his blindness. Wouldn't you love to be told by God to go heal someone! But Ananias hestitates because he does not think Saul should be healed. This is the man who has come to them to arrest them! Now who is needing to be made straight? God speaks with him and Ananias is obedient. Saul is healed of his blindness, as is Ananias.

So as you are confronted with things that need to be made straight, how will you choose to react? In the second section of the Lesson Mrs. Eddy describes each of us as we truly are. "Immortal men and women are models of spiritual sense, drawn by perfect Mind and reflecting those higher conceptions of loveliness which transcend all material sense". (S&H 247) With the confidence and calm of a Daniel? With the rantings of a Saul? With the hesitancy of an Ananias? Remember just who it is that is doing the straightening.

Go with confidence, delighting in the law of God, and looking to see Him make those crooked places straight.

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