The Lessen Lesson — September 18th, 2011

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You know the joke–a man walks into the doctor’s office, moving his arm up and down.  He says, “Doctor, it hurts when I do this.”  The doctor replies, “Well, stop doing that.”

Exactly.

I am not quite sure at what age we begin to equate maturity with the accumulation of stress and pain as a symbol of our growth and adulthood, but whenever it happens, we seem to puncture a hole in our spirits–where all the joy drains out. If the human countenance is any sign of what’s going on inside the human heart, then the folks in the United States of America appears to be continually constipated.

We should have learned through the falsehood of the statement “No pain, no gain” that life is not meant to produce discomfort in order to generate progress.  Because as you well know, if you are in the midst of exercising, and pain is the result, you are no longer producing benefit, but instead, just fostering aggravation to your physical being. Muscles can stretch–that’s good.  Sweat on the brow never hurt anyone.  Heart rate raised? Excellent for the cardiovascular system. But pain is not a good sign.

And that goes across the board.  We think we should have an “all nighter” to prepare for the test instead of taking notes all along and learning as we go. Emotionally, we feel the need to worry over “what might be” instead of taking on the problems one at a time and absorbing them into our being, using the wisdom we have and applying the principles we know to be true. Spiritually, we are preoccupied with pleasing a God who at times we insist is already pleased with us so that we can be found pleasing by occasionally being displeased with the actions of others.

It’s a mess. And if you think you have the backing of Jesus and Christian theology in this pathetic process, you are sadly wrong. Because when the Pharisees were trying to corner Jesus, they asked him why his disciples didn’t fast.  In other words, “Why aren’t your followers as miserable as us?”

Jesus’ response, paraphrased, was, “I’m here, things are going great, we’re having fun–there’s no need to fast.”

He constantly told us not to worry or take thought about things that were not happening now–that tomorrow would take care of itself. And he told the multitudes to come to him with all their weariness and burdens–and he would give them rest.

Here are two questions you must ask yourself:  Is life about doing a project or achieving a goal at all costs, or is life about considering the cost and finding a better way to achieve your goal?

Your answer to those two questions will determine your sense of well-being and happiness.

Yes, it is important, if you’re going to be a successful human being, to put in practice “The Lessen Lesson.”  Lessen your fear, lessen your struggle, lessen your apprehension, lessen your worry, lessen your responsibility whenever possible and most important–lessen your expectation. How can we begin?

1. Stop the pain. When you feel pain, just take even five minutes–and stop. Whether it’s emotional pain, mental “insane” or physical strain–just refrain. Because remember, Jesus told us to “take up our cross and follow him.”  He never suggested we climb up on it and get nailed down. He merely wants us to learn how to handle responsibility, shifting the weight onto our shoulders in the correct proportion.

2. Confront the weariness. Weariness happens when we begin to believe that the work is more important than the product. So even though we’ve lost our enthusiasm, passion and even are beginning to sacrifice our skill and intelligence, we continue to trudge on–putting brick and mortar together, often constructing a crooked wall. It’s why the American worker has lost an edge in the world–weariness is no motivator for excellence. How do I know I’m weary? When my sense of dread about what I have to do is not given a chance to be relieved by a better idea.

3. And finally, lift the burden. Many years ago for a brief season, I taught at a small Bible college in Louisiana. The dean of the college was an austere fellow who believed in hard work and hard knocks. He had two young men on his staff who were janitors and he always found the most difficult way for them to perform a task. One day he asked them to move sheets of plywood about 150 yards, from one building to another. They were supposed to carry it by hand. It was arduous–and ridiculous. I backed up my old station wagon and we put all the plywood on top of my luggage rack and hauled it over in one load. We laughed, joked and sang all during the procedure. The dean came out, infuriated because I had suggested a simpler way to achieve the goal. I was perplexed. The work was done, it was done well, and he had two employees who still had energy for the rest of the day. He was angry because it was not painful. So I will tell you, the main thing to remember is to stay away from people who think life is hard and want to make sure that they provide your portion. Find a way to lift the burden from yourself and others, and thus prove the heart of Christ.

So–The Lessen Lesson is to stop the pain, confront the weariness and lift the burden.

Because when life is through, people will not remember what you did as much as how you did it.

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2 CommentsLeave a comment

  1. A very important message and very well put, thank you. But not one we want to hear, of course. Oh no. We must have our pain; sack cloth and ashes….

    I have to partly disagree with your understanding of “take up your cross”, if I may? There would have been nothing metaphorical about the cross in Jesus’ day. It was a call to death. “Be ready to die.” But not, as you rightly point out, a life of pain, suffering and misery. It’s a journey of joy he calls us to (life in all its fullness), but it cost him his life to give it to us, and it may cost us ours to pass it on.
    Great blog!

    Like


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