Daily D – Psalm 119:15
I will study your commandments and reflect on your ways. PSALM 119:15 (NLT)
I will meditate on your precepts and think about your ways.
I ponder every morsel of wisdom from you, I attentively watch how you’ve done it.
Read the instructions. This is important when learning something new or doing something for the first time. However, reading the instructions is often not enough to grasp and integrate new concepts.
I’m a pretty smart guy. I have graduated several times. I am pretty good at reading instructions and following them. Therefore, when our clothes dryer stopped drying, I found the instructions on how to replace the heating element. Those instructions were simple enough to follow and indicated this was a fairly simple process.
Some time later, with skinned knuckles and overflowing irritation and exasperation, I took the necessary next step. I found a YouTube video to show me what to do. The video quality was not great and I could not see exactly what the handyman was doing. So I found another, and then another one after that.
Armed with clear written instructions and a video queued to the right spot for what I was dealing with, I went to work on the dryer once again.
More frustration ensued. That heating element was not coming out.
Having exhausted all of my personal resources and much more time than the written instructions and videos described, I asked a young man who is quite handy to assist me. An hour or so later, we both gave up.
I finally called a certified technician. He took a look at it, charged his fee, and said he could not repair it either. The good news is that our new dryer works great and has a larger load capacity than the old one.
Telling someone how to do something he or she has never done may or may not result in the hoped for outcome. Showing someone how to do something is more helpful. More helpful still is doing something with someone until he or she is confident enough to try it with your observation but without your assistance.
The psalm writer here understood this lesson. First came the written instructions: “I will study your commandments.” Second came observation of how God turned instructions and promises into accomplished reality: “I will reflect on your ways.” Third came implementation and evaluation for his own life: “I will do what you say the way you showed me.”
Read through this lengthy psalm and you see again and again how the author read the instructions, observed how they worked out in real life, and put them into practice.
* Read for understanding.
* Observe for greater comprehension.
* Implement for proper performance.
This works in most cases. Sometimes, however, you have to bring in a professional. Sometimes you have to buy a new dryer. In the words of the late great Kenny Rogers,
You gotta know when to hold ‘em
Know when to fold ‘em
Know when to walk away
Know when to run
Sometimes the smartest and best thing you can do is admit there are problems you cannot solve, issues you cannot manage, and time and money you no longer want to waste.
Ponder God’s wisdom. Attentively watch how he leads people to turn instructions into practices. Live what you are learning. Never be afraid to admit when you cannot accomplish something on your own. Know there are greater resources than what you currently possess.
Assessment gives us a place to stand as we determine what we did right, what we did wrong, what was unclear, and what was missing. Then we can begin again more intelligently. Or, we can buy a new dryer.
I will read, observe, apply, assess, and learn from both success and setbacks.
Our Father, thank you for written instructions. Thank you for examples of what to do and what not to do in the lives of real people in the Bible. Thank you for people who are generous with their time and attention to pass along what they have learned. Thank you for opportunities to begin again more intelligently. 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.