A Story Remembered

A Story Remembered

Jesus callingThis morning’s devotional in Jesus Calling exhorted the reader to avoid the trap of self-pity. As I read the admonition, I suddenly thought of an old story that counsellors sometimes relate as a non-confrontational means of helping clients perceive repetitive, dysfunctional patterns of behaviour in themselves that need to be changed. It is sometimes called “Healing in Five Chapters.” It goes like this:

Chapter 1: I got up this morning and went outside. I walked down a certain road and came to a great hole in the road. I looked in, and slipped and fell into the hole. It was a very deep hole. It took me a long time to get out.man falling in hole

Chapter 2: I got up this morning and went outside. I walked down a certain road and came to a great hole in the road. I looked in, and slipped and fell into the hole. It was a very deep hole. It took me a long time to get out.

Chapter 3: I got up this morning and went outside. I walked down a certain road and came to a great hole in the road. I looked in very carefully, trying to stay well back from the hole, but I slipped and fell into the hole. It was a very deep hole. It took me a long time to get out.

Chapter 4: I got up this morning and went outside. I walked down a certain road and came to a great hole in the road. I walked around the hole and went on my way.

Chapter 5: I got up this morning and went outside. I walked down a different road.

Referring to the encouragement in Hebrews 12:1 to “look unto Jesus,” the devotional gave the important reminder that when we keep our thoughts focussed on the Lord, we are far less likely to fall into the hole or pit of self-pity. Even more importantly, intentionally giving praise to God turns our attention away from ourselves and our situation, regrets, fears, anger or shame (all slippery edges that grease the way for our rapid cascade into the pity pit) and instead helps us remember the God who is good, faithful and at work for our blessing, even in hard times. Praise is an incredibly effective means of not showing up at the pity party.

I remembered the Psalmist’s words about “blessed the feet of him who brings good news.” I suppose equally we could say “blessed the feet of him” who chooses to stay well away from big holes in the road. Even more blessed is the person who wisely decides to go down a different road so as to avoid those dangerous, luring and entrapping holes altogether.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERATruthfully, we all of us can choose to a profound degree not only where our feet will go, but more pertinently, where we will let our thoughts travel. If I habitually let my mind wander down the road of remorse or guilt, or down the laneway of remembered hurts and well nursed grudges, or pursue the footpath of anxiety and anguish, it very likely will not be well with my soul.

Which draws my thoughts back to what is undoubtedly one of my favorite scriptures. Writing to the Philippians, Paul said “whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things.” In other words, be careful and be wise about what roads you choose to travel.

 

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