Wednesday, June 24, 2015

The Cobra Effect

Yet the Lord longs to be gracious to you; therefore he will rise up to show you compassion. For the Lord is a God of justice. Blessed are all who wait for him!
Isaiah 30:18 (ESV)

Life is full of problems, isn't it? Little problems, big problems, complex problems, problems! But I have learned that sometimes the solution is worse than the problem. Sometimes when you try to fix something you actually end up making it worse. This is called the Cobra Effect. 

During British rule of Colonial India, the government was concerned about the number of venomous cobra snakes in Delhi. So the government offered a bounty for every dead cobra. At first, the incentive worked. Large numbers of snakes were killed for the reward. But it wasn't long until some crafty and enterprising residents began to breed cobras expressly for the purpose of turning them in for the reward. Once the government became aware of this, the bounty program was scrapped, causing the cobra breeders to set the now-worthless snakes free. In the end, the cobra population in Delhi actually increased as a result of the bounty program. The apparent solution to the problem actually made the situation worse.

Sometimes we see this Cobra Effect in our personal lives when we try to solve our problems by running to the world for help instead of taking our problems to God. Our Heavenly Father wants us to cry out to Him for help and wait for His deliverance. Only He can save us from our problems anyway! Only He is in control. 

Isaiah 30:18 tells us something amazing- God is waiting on you! God wants to be gracious to His people and rescue us from our problems, but He will not give up His glory. That's the most important thing to Him. While you are frantically trying to solve your problems yourself or turning to the world for help or turning to sin to cope with the pain, God is quietly waiting for you to cry out to Him for help so He can rescue. Our Father must teach us to turn to Him for help. He will not rescue us as long as we are trying to rescue ourselves or turn elsewhere for help. We must learn to look to Him first.

What is the biggest problem you are facing today? What's keeping you awake at night? And what have you done to try to fix this problem? Have you cried out to God for help and waited to see what he will do? Carry your problems to the throne of God today. Ask for help, and see what He will do!

Wednesday, June 17, 2015

Treading Water

For I too was a son to my father, still tender, and cherished by my mother. Then he taught me, and he said to me, “Take hold of my words with all your heart; keep my commands, and you will live. Get wisdom, get understanding; do not forget my words or turn away from them. Do not forsake wisdom, and she will protect you; love her, and she will watch over you. The beginning of wisdom is this: Get wisdom. Though it cost all you have, get understanding.
Proverbs 4:3-7

I'm not a very good swimmer. In fact, I don't know much about swimming at all, but I have been to a number of swim meets and I've even watched Olympic swim events on TV. I've seen people compete in the backstroke, the breaststroke, the butterfly, freestyle and many other events. But you know what I have never seen? I've never seen a water treading competition. I even Googled it earlier this week and I can't find a single, major water treading competition. Why?

It's no secret that treading water doesn't get you anywhere. Apart from its use as a survival technique, it's kind of pointless. Plus, it's boring! You aren't moving forward or backward, you are simply maintaining...keeping the status quo...keeping your head above water. Who wants to watch that competition?

This pretty well sums up what many of us do in our day-to-day lives though doesn't it? We aren't really improving ourselves or increasing in knowledge or wisdom, we're just keeping our head above water. We work hard enough to pay the bills and have a little left over for fun and that's all we really want out of life. But the book of Proverbs challenges us over and over again to push for more, not in a materialistic sense, but rather for more knowledge of God, more wisdom and understanding by which we might direct our lives for His glory. This world is a tricky place to live. Jesus calls our enemy the Father of Lies for good reason (John 8:44). The Deceiver is cunning and skilled at leading us into confusion. We need God's wisdom and understanding to live life the way we were intended to and thus to enjoy our lives to the fullest! 

Proverbs 8:10-11 says,
Choose my instruction instead of silver, knowledge rather than choice gold, for wisdom is more precious than rubies, and nothing you desire can compare with her.
Think of the great gold rushes of the past in the United States. Men picked up, left their homes, and traveled clear across the country in search of riches. Imagine if we expended even half that effort in our studies of God's Word and His world! Proverbs 4:7 tells us to "Get wisdom. Though it cost all you have, get understanding."

Assess your life. Have you grown complacent? Are you merely treading water? Heed God's advice and seek after wisdom with eagerness and urgency. Turn first to the fountain of wisdom: His Word. Pour over God's written Word in Scripture and meditate on God's revealed Word in Jesus Christ. Second seek out godly men and women who can help you understand the mysteries of God's Word and creation. Be sure not to underestimate the gift of your parents in this regard or the gift that you can be to your children. I know that some of us had parents who were flawed at best, parents who excelled at exampling what not to do. But remember God gave you those parents for a reason and we never outgrow the lessons our parents teach us, positive or negative. Rather use those lessons to guide your life, and focus your energy on instructing your children in the way of wisdom and understanding.