Monday, January 21, 2008

Brass Tracks

Have you ever heard the expression "Let's get down to brass tacks."? It's generally used in a business or negotiation setting in reference to the details of a deal. Presumably from the days when things like luggage, horse shoes, leatherworks, cobbling and furniture, used tacks in their construction. To refer to the brass tacks meant the little items that would hold the whole thing together. They signified the quality, care, and luxuriousness that went into its creation. All in all, a well worn sentiment in full use today at a more conceptual level.

This post isn't about wheeling and dealing, negotiation or the art of influence. Read that sort of stuff here.

This post is about how my God and my faith in him so often lets me address even the biggest issues and short-comings in my life with a simple review of the "brass tacks". Let me explain:

Brothers, think of what you were when you were called. Not many of you were wise by human standards; not many were influential; not many were of noble birth. But God chose the foolish things of the world to shame the wise; God chose the weak things of the world to shame the strong. He chose the lowly things of this world and the despised things—and the things that are not—to nullify the things that are, so that no one may boast before him.
-- 1 Corinthians 1: 26-29

Throughout His Word we find stunning examples of how He changes the rules of this harsh world that bind our minds. They usually always share the same mark, "But God". That is all it takes to see the world anew, to be refreshed and freed and made whole. Those two words are the light showing us how He breaks through the stalemates and posturing and questioning and doubt and impossibility. Because He is God. He can. He does. He has. He will.

He said to them: "You are well aware that it is against our law for a Jew to associate with a Gentile or visit him. But God has shown me that I should not call any man impure or unclean. So when I was sent for, I came without raising any objection. May I ask why you sent for me?"
-- Acts 10:28-29

It doesn't matter what we are faced with. He doesn't care what zany predicament or embarrassing situation we have gotten ourselves into. It doesn't matter if we are shiny, happy, people just stuck in a rut that isn't glorifying God. At any time, in all circumstances, if we call on Him in faith He will move. If our desire is truly for His will, then our reaching hands are grasped every time.
Like water spilled on the ground, which cannot be recovered, so we must die. But God does not take away life; instead, he devises ways so that a banished person may not remain estranged from him.
-- 2 Samuel 2:14

In the last few weeks I've been struggling, but more important I've been watching people close to me struggle. My friend who is stuck in mediocrity hidden amongst flash and distraction. He cries out and screams "What am I supposed to do?" into the silent void. I only weep behind my eyes and pray with him. He won't be hearing brass tacks from me, we aren't close enough anymore I guess.

The downside is how powerful those words can be if you can just work them into the conversation. Like the twist at the end of great movie, those seven keystrokes change everything that has happened and opens the way for anything to happen.
The Pharisees, who loved money, heard all this and were sneering at Jesus. 15He said to them, "You are the ones who justify yourselves in the eyes of men, but God knows your hearts. What is highly valued among men is detestable in God's sight.
-- 2 Samuel 2:14

Even in my family my frustration with failing to influence increases exponentially each incident. They say they reach, and want to, but they won't do beyond the theory.

In all this winding footpath that is your life, each step must be deliberate. Without those conscious choices to celebrate and deviate and recuperate and recreate and sometimes just buckle down and do, we meander and wander letting aimlessly and despair creep in. Our companions of Worry and Frustration comfort and console us onto the softer path as we casually, care-freely careen over the cliffs and into the caverns of chaos. And then we ask "Why?" It is then we have the presence of mind to question our state and fate. Only then we realize that at every step our indecision and indeliberation made our choices plainly for us. And we accepted. We kept plodding, broken and bowed.

Take this time now to grab hold to faith. Inject a little "But God" into your speech. When you think you are out of options remember all those times the story changed with only two little words. You don't have to stay on the softer path. You can halt the free-fall. You can be broken, but God will heal you. You can be flounder, but God will bring vision and light to your world.

It works for me.

When I let it.

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