Daily D – 1 Corinthians 6:12
You say, “I am allowed to do anything”—but not everything is good for you. And even though “I am allowed to do anything,” I must not become a slave to anything. 1 CORINTHIANS 6:12 (NLT)
It is popular these days to talk about our strongest strengths as superpowers. What do you do better than ten thousand others? My superpower is focus. An assistant some years ago said I was “tightly focused.” She had asked a question and I did not immediately respond. I was thousands of miles and years away. As a History major, and as a guy who spends time daily reading the Bible and other ancient literature, some of my best friends have been dead for millennia. Our conversations are necessarily all in my head. It is hard to listen to the voices in my head when someone externally seeks to interrupt with trivial questions.
Let’s not send that last paragraph to any psychiatrists. Deal?
I am generally a nice guy. I even say Thank You to Alexa. However, when someone intrudes upon those moments of deep thought and focus, I can become a bit irritable. It happened yesterday. I had to reset the Amazon password. This required not only entering the new password but also deciphering those numbers and letters in the little box with lines and dots and all kinds of things which keep you from accurately recognizing the characters. I bet I went through a half dozen of those things.
Finally, Amazon sent a One Time Authenticator. I was carefully committing those numbers to memory and writing them in the appropriate box when my bride said something to me. I did not appreciate the interruption and snapped like a dog protecting his bone.
My superpower may not always be as super as I think it is.
The point here is not that I was a jerk, even though I was. I can give you all kinds of defenses about why I behaved the way I did. (Observation: If you have to defend your behavior, you might have been the one in the wrong. Just a thought.) The point is that we often hear, and may have even said, “I can do whatever I want. I am not hurting anyone else.” This simply is not true.
A pregnant woman has to exercise great care regarding what she puts in her body. When she does not do so, she hurts herself as the host, and she hurts the unborn child also.
Wee little Layla who you met yesterday here in this space is living proof of the harm we do to others when we live as if we are hurting no one but ourselves. For nearly two full days now, Layla has endured one test or another to get to the bottom of her disturbing symptoms. Through two long nights in the hospital, she has experienced seizures which are heartbreaking to all who witness them. It makes you want to hold that child ever so tightly and love those tremors away.
We get to choose our actions. We do not have nearly as much control over what happens to or in others. In some cases, like this one, one person’s freedom consigns another to unjust imprisonment.
We are free to choose. We are free to ruin our lives. That is where freedom ends. When we ruin our lives, we make life harder than it has to be for others as well. Like it or not, we live in community. No one of us, no group of us, are individuals who get to do as we please no matter what anyone else thinks. Individual freedom requires individual responsibility.
Let’s fast forward a bit. Twenty years from now, Layla will have a story to tell. She will graduate from college soon with honors and opportunities. Because of the intervention of a wonderful family who gave up a bit of their freedoms to ensure hers, she will step into a world where she will get to help still others live full and meaningful lives. She will honor her two mothers. One, she will honor by maximizing the opportunities she made possible. The other, she will honor by helping build a better world where the escape into destructive behavior is in no way attractive.
Layla has a hope and a future because someone very special has said, “While I am free to walk away and leave this child to someone else’s care, I am bound by love, I am compelled by mercy, I am driven by grace to ensure, as far as it depends on me, that she will live full and free.”
That kind of love is a superpower. I am so pleased to know someone who overflows with it. She makes the world a better place for everyone she meets. Layla has her on her knees. Layla has her undying love. Layla cannot help but thrive.
I will thank God for Melissa’s superpower.
Our Father, Melissa is so much like you in your love, mercy, and compassion. All of her struggles to this point have prepared her for this moment. Some things that did not make sense until now suddenly do. Who better than her to nurture Layla into the special future you intend? Give them each your grace and your strength for this time. Give them conscious awareness of your presence with them. Give them doctors, nurses, and others who will gently lead them through these days. Amen.
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Deuteronomy 8:12-18 When you eat and are full, and build beautiful houses to live in, and your herds and flocks grow large, and your silver and gold multiply, and everything else you have increases, be careful that your heart doesn’t become proud and you forget the Lord your God who brought you out of the land of Egypt, out of the place of slavery. He led you through the great and terrible wilderness with its poisonous snakes and scorpions, a thirsty land where there was no water. He brought water out of the flint rock for you. He fed you in the wilderness with manna, which your ancestors had not known, in order to humble and test you, so that in the end he might cause you to prosper. You may say to yourself, ‘My power and my own ability have gained this wealth for me,’ but remember that the Lord your God gives you the power to gain wealth, in order to confirm his covenant he swore to your ancestors, as it is today.
Deuteronomy 6:4-9 “Listen, Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is one. Love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your strength. These words that I am giving you today are to be in your heart. Repeat them to your children. Talk about them when you sit in your house and when you walk along the road, when you lie down and when you get up. Bind them as a sign on your hand and let them be a symbol on your forehead. Write them on the doorposts of your house and on your city gates.“
Deuteronomy 1:2, 3 It is an eleven-day journey from Horeb to Kadesh-barnea by way of Mount Seir. In the fortieth year, in the eleventh month, on the first of the month, Moses told the Israelites everything the Lord had commanded him to say to them.