Famous Last Words

Every now and then – okay way more often than I should – I follow a rabbit trail.  Not literally – but figuratively following a link to a picture or a recipe or a quote that was somehow loosely connected to whatever it was I was originally trying to accomplish.

Today’s rabbit trail came in the form of an image of Lucille Ball attached to a caption about last words of actors and actresses. Now, I’m not usually interested in actresses or death but Lucille Ball, as a fellow red-head, has sort of a strange attraction for my imagination.  Funny thing was – her last words were not what captured my attention.  The person whose last words inspired this post was Charlie Chaplin.

According to Chris Raymond, writer for about.com (where the rabbit trail lead), indicates that Chaplin’s last words were spoken in response to a priest (presumably performing last rights?) who said, “May God have mercy on your soul.”  Chaplin’s response was, “Why not? It belongs to Him.”

How many actors or actresses today would respond with such a confident statement? How many politicians?  How many of any of us?

One of the signs of the last days, or end times, will be people’s inability to discern (distinguish between) right and wrong – even in the smallest decisions.  This lack of certainty brings, by definition, confusion and leads to a wandering of the mind, will, and emotions, collectively known as the soul.

With what certainty can we say today, “My soul belongs to God. I am confident of my decision to follow Jesus.  I have been called out of the wilderness of confusion and into the certainty of my inheritance – my adoption into the family of Christ, my brother”?

Do you have today the peace that comes from the confidence of salvation?

It is my sincere prayer that you do, but if you do not – if you find yourself wandering in the soul-ish dessert – hear the cry of one calling out – “Make straight the pathway”.

Isaiah 40: 1-11


De- versus In-

I read a story recently (by Hayden at aspergerexperts.com) that said the following:

We make decisions every day. They may not be conscious, but they drive our behavior and determine how we live. The word decision literally means “to cut off all other options,” which is true when you really think about the nature of making any choice. When you say, “This is what’s happening,” and you commit to it, you are eliminating the possibility for anything else to happen.

Now – I’m not sure if the idea is solely attributable to my husband or if he found the idea somewhere along the way and adopted it as his own, but my students have heard me say it (as I have heard my husband say it) a million times – “You are the outcome of the decisions you make.”

I’m the kind of person who likes to have all (and I mean ALL) of the information before making a decision.  Now – I did say “likes to have.” When that isn’t possible, I tend to default to that oh so womanly (don’t deny it ladies) trait of making decisions based on emotions.  And, even when I have ALL the information, I tend to try to figure out what everyone else in the WORLD (at least my small part of it) would want me to do.  So – therefore – decision paralysis.

You cannot decide anything for yourself when you are terrified that there is some tiny speck of information that would change the whole situation and make everything perfect for everyone in your life – but you just can’t find that speck.  Nor can you decide anything for yourself when your ideas of what would make other people happy come from your own (sometimes, though not completely) inaccurate suppositions of what they want.

Now – don’t get me wrong – I’m fairly intuitive about how people (especially my students) are feeling at any particular moment. But there are a few people (my husband for example) who defy intuitive suppositions.  I am coming to understand that this trait is not meant to destroy me – but to release me.  God paired me with an individual that, no matter what I do, I cannot figure out.  Don’t get me wrong, there are quirks that definitely have specific meanings, but overall – I am so not good at guessing what he wants or thinks or even needs at any given moment.  This presents both a great challenge that keeps me interested, and a great frustration at my own failure to get it.

Therein is the blessing – God is letting me know that I am free to NOT know.  I am free to give my husband (and anyone else who defies figuring out) to God.  Free to listen to Him for the answers and free to make decisions based on something other than what I THINK my husband (or whoever) wants me to do. It’s a strange, untwisted kind of freedom that I don’t know if I’ve ever felt before.  But God has a way of doing that to me – surprising me with completely new ways of understanding.  His ways are higher than our ways.  Or, as Einstein put it, “the thing about smart people, is they sound crazy to dumb people.” I know that is putting it quite bluntly, but there are so many times in the Bible that refer to the need to understand, seeking understanding, and how the fear of God (reverence for Him) is the beginning of wisdom.

The title of this post is de- versus in- so what about the in- side of it?  Hayden’s story made me think of the word decision – as its definition should – as a cut (-cision) away (de-), which somewhat obviously begs the comparison to the word incision – as a cut (-cision) into (in-).  But we rarely ever think about our own mental exercises as creating an incision. Well – think about it – whenever you cut into something – you do it for a reason – to examine it, to figure it out, to explore the possibilities of what could or should be done to change it, make it better, rearrange what ever is in there.  How much time have I wasted mentally incising things – cutting them up into little pieces ready for analysis without ever making the transition to deciding – cutting away that part that is useless to me and loving that I did so.

Because, as expressed in Hayden’s story, deciding should bring joy, should bring peace to a situation, should bring hope and health, and all that jazz.  God gives me the freedom to give to Him anything I cannot appropriately incise (which really – is most everything)  and giving it to Him is the decision which can bring the most joy. I cut away from myself that which causes me to draw into myself or into my world and away from Him.  I cut away from myself the things that are unnecessary and paralyzing to figure out.

“He cuts off every branch in me that bears no fruit, while every branch that does bear fruit he prunes so that it will be even more fruitful.”  John 15:2