Monday, November 30, 2015

Are You Sure It Works Like That?

Passage for Second Sunday in Advent: Luke 3:1-6

Sometimes life is counter-intuitive.  In order to get our desired results, we have to do things that seem like we might be going backwards.  For instance, in order to grab something that is above your head, you might stretch out to the tips of your toes.  It is still out of reach.  How do you get it?

You could try to jump from the tips of your toes but it would be more effective to squat down to get some spring in your legs before jumping up.  You have to go down before you go up.

Flying Officer T. R. Jacklin inspects the damage to
his plane after flying it back from a mission in the Pacific.
During World War II, there were patterns of bullet holes in surviving aircraft.  They only had enough armored plates to partially outfit the planes.

Where would you put the armor?

The natural thinking would be to put it where the majority of the holes were.  Abraham Wald thought about it differently.  He concluded that these surviving planes were able to fly in spite of being hit in these areas.  Those planes that were shot down were likely hit in the places that didn't show patterns of damage.

So he put the armor where there were no bullet holes!

As we think this week about repentance, it might seem that we would be better off in glossing over former sins or mistakes we have made.  What's done is done and it may be too painful to revisit.

While this is true if one is truly at peace with something, we often try to put embarrassing incidents out of mind without actually resolving them through the forgiveness we need. Then the consequences come back to haunt us in ways we don't expect or realize.  Our behavior toward others may be off.  We might be touchy around certain areas.  There may be topics that are taboo because we are sensitive to what they might recall.

If this is the case, we may need to do some soul searching and some repentance.

In order for us to move forward in a healthy way, we have to tend to those things in our past which may be holding us back.  This can be counter-intuitive, but it works.

I think this is what John the Baptizer is calling people to do when they come out to hear him preach at the Jordan River.  They are convicted and find themselves being baptized in the river.  This coming out of the water reminded the people of their ancestors who crossed the river to enter into the Promised Land for the first time.

It was like starting over.

Repentance.  It's not just for the truly horrible.  It's for all of us.

It helps us to prepare the way of the Lord.

Sometimes we have to go down before we can go up.

In Christ,


Picture by Harrison, John Thomas [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

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