Sunday, January 12, 2014

Choose Your Rut Carefully

The first house in which my husband and I lived, an ancient and eccentric structure, backed up to an alley, the heartbeat of any urban neighborhood.  That is how we maneuvered through the matrix of intersecting roads and maintained community with our neighbors.  You can always tell a lot about a neighborhood from its alleys.

About this time of year, in the frigid depths of January, the ice and snow in the unplowed alley became like a treacherous journey to the South Pole.   As we would turn from the busy street into the alley, we would say out loud, "Choose your rut carefully.  You are going to be in it for a long time."  There were large ridges where other cars had pushed through.  Some ruts would allow your car to get to the other end, and yet most, left your vehicle immobile, requiring backing-up or the passenger to PUSH the car through the icy tundra.  After awhile, we would determine the most likely ruts that traveled through, sometimes those that were not so obvious.

About this time of year, opportunities arise
that promise and appeal as great uses of my limited time
                                                       and attention.
Beware of what takes residence in your life,
    those occasional guests who are revealed to be
tyrants in disguise,
            in whatever form that it may be.
Walk away from anything
     that makes you yearn for every episode,
consume the whole box, 
that which fills up all your spare moments,
overrides the needs of others,
and takes captive your thoughts.

Choose your rut carefully.
You will be in it for a long time.

The world claims these things as harmless obsessions,
as it packages them in even bigger portions.
But God calls anything that has power over me,

But oh,
       we LOVE those ruts.
And we even LOVE to complain about them.
We get comfortable,
          treat them as good old friends,
we welcome them in the front door,
serve lunch
and offer them the recliner
    to make them even harder to give up
and to make it seem like treason
                to even think about abandoning them.
"This is who I am,"
      we justify as we tighten the shackles
around our wrists
               and add more around our ankles.

These pursuits and activities may all be "good things,"
and that is great,
    but not when they run my life.
That is why one of the fruits of the Spirit
                         is self-control,
      an odd one added to love and peace,
but that which provides the strength to discern
            and the courage to walk away.
Christ came to give us freedom
                       even from ourselves.

All things are lawful,
but not all things are helpful.
All things are lawful,
but not all things build up.

                  1 Corinthians 10.23

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