“Why would anyone do that?” my friend said. We were at the local swimming pool and she had been watching a scene unfold.
A child was being given a private swimming lesson. The little boy was happy and paying attention to his teacher. Then his mother appeared on the pool deck and the situation changed. She leaned over and made suggestions to the child, effectively taking control away from the instructor.
The result was quite predictable. The more the mother interfered, the more insecure the child became. Soon the boy was upset and wanted out of the water. His mother reached to help him out of the water.
The parallel of this scene to my life was obvious to me. I have put my trust in Jesus. He knows what is best for me and is able to teach me what I need to learn. This is where my focus must remain.
Why then do I get confused when well meaning friends give me contradictory advice? I know they care about me. The information they have to share may be valid to my situation. Should I be listening to them instead?
At times like this I need to remember that Jesus knows me better than I know myself. He is patient and kind even when I question him. He has the answers to questions I haven’t even thought of yet.
At times Jesus uses others to reinforce his message to me but never to contradict it. For me the choice is clear. I will pray to Jesus for guidance and trust him to guide my life.
Am I now trying to win the approval of human beings, or of God? Or am I trying to please people? If I were still trying to please people, I would not be a servant of Christ. (Galatians 1:10 NIV)
Don’t you see how wonderfully kind, tolerant, and patient God is with you? Does this mean nothing to you? Can’t you see that his kindness is intended to turn you from your sin? (Romans 2:4 NLT)
Advice comes to us from many sources. It can be written or verbal. There are times when it is helpful and others when it is not appreciated.
Recently I saw a sign with extremely helpful advice. It held a warning of danger due to an unstable slope. Heeding this would provide safety from the eroding landscape.
The sign was on a path that overlooked a lake. So much of the hillside had eroded and fallen away that the sign was now in danger of tumbling down to the shore. I pointed this out to my husband as we walked along the beach and said, “The sign looks like it needs to take its own advice.”
This brought to mind the saying Do what I say not as I do. In other words, I expect you to follow my advice but I’m not going to do it myself.
No matter how well intentioned I am, my advice may not be right for someone else. The same holds true for advice that others give me.
There is also the advice that I give myself and then ignore. Following it requires more effort than I am willing to put forth. Sometimes I don’t know what to do. I seem lost and need someone to point me in the right direction.
There is only one that can consistently give me the needed advice. That one is Jesus. He knows the direction he wants me to travel in and the best way to get there. Everything he takes me through is preparing me to live the life that he has planned for me. I may not understand the advice now, but if I have faith the answer will be revealed in his perfect timing.
Humble yourselves, therefore, under God’s mighty hand, that he may lift you up in due time. (1 Peter 5:6 NIV)