Monday, September 19, 2016

Best of the Best: Help! I'm Stuck!

Have you ever played with a Chinese finger puzzle (aka, Chinese finger trap, Chinese handcuffs)? Who would have thought that a simple braided tube could evoke both panic and laughter, depending on whether or not your fingers happen to be the ones in the tube?

The trick to the Chinese finger puzzle is that the captive must keep in mind that the trap defies logic.  In other words, common sense tells you to pull your fingers away from the tube, but because of the way the trap is designed, your attempts to pull free only tighten the trap around your fingers.  The trick is to relax and allow your fingers to go limp.  Then, and only then, will you be freed.  In order to free yourself, you must throw out common sense and your own vain attempts to pull free.  Letting go and relaxing is the key.

Life certainly has its shares of Chinese finger puzzles, doesn't it? Things that ensnare us.  Time and time again, we find ourselves prisoners of bodies that lack strength and energy, finances that spend far more time going than coming, deadlines that hover, storms that threaten, relationships that stress and frustrations that could fill the Grand Canyon.  And the fact of the matter is that all of these things are just part of life, and there's not much we can do about it.  What was can deal with, however, is how we approach these puzzles.

I am, by nature, a very logical and analytical person.  If I weren't such an emotional basketcase, I'd make a great Vulcan (though I'd prefer to pass on the pointed ears).  I have a tendency to attack any given problem or situation from a logical and analytical standpoint.  Step one, assess the problem.  Step two, create a list of possible solutions.  Step three, choose and implement the solution.  Step four, survey the results, then repeat if necessary.  Steps five through ten, consume significant amounts of chocolate. Straightforward.  To the point.  Think it through, then act accordingly.

It sounds like a good strategy, but there's one problem--I've left no room for faith.  And so I pull and thrash and expend time, energy and other valuable resources attempting to solve my latest Chinese finger puzzle.  My logic says, "Pull, and if that doesn't work, pull harder."  My faith says, "Just relax.  Your Father can take care of this."  Two different voices.  Two distinct messages.  But I only get one choice.  To whom will I listen?  Will I continue to struggle, always searching for new ways to make everything work according to plan?  Or will I just relax and allow the Lord to have His will and way in every area of my life?

I wish I could say it is an easy choice.  It should be, but the truth is, sometimes it's just so difficult to let go.  But I've recently come to realize that I'll never be truly free until I do.  Until I place my complete trust in Him, I won't be free of worry or anxiety or depression.  Until I surrender everything I have and everything I am, I will be held captive by my own desires and ambitions.  Until I learn to relax, I will be cut off from the real peace and joy that the Lord wants for me to have.

You know the best way to escape from a Chinese finger puzzle?  Don't stick you fingers in there in the first place.  Likewise, the best way to avoid the frustrations and discouragement of life is to not stick our fingers in the mix.  Just give the problem to God.  Don't get mixed up in it.  Don't waste time and energy trying to find the solution.  Just turn it over to the One who knows all and relax.  He's working all things for your good, and unlike us, puzzles don't ensnare Him or stress Him out.  Let it go.  Just take a deep breath, and relax.  God's got this!

Be careful for nothing; but in every thing by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known unto God. And the peace of God, which passeth all understanding, shall keep your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus. - Philippians 4:6-7
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