OnFire Encouragement Letter
OnFire #203 Blood Sweat and Tears
I gave blood recently for the first time in about 10 years. For most of that time, we lived in areas where blood clinics were infrequent. Now that we're back in an area where clinics happen often, I see it as a responsibility to give, especially since I think I probably have good blood to give, and it doesn't cost me more than a little fuel and time.
My donation at the blood bank didn't cost me much, but there are times when blood is the symbol of a deep and long lasting investment. "Blood, sweat and tears" is the expression we sometimes use to say that we have put a lot of ourselves into a matter. Because the cost to us cannot be measured on a cash register, we treasure it all the more.
I think that's why the words, "I'm sorry" are so hard. We invest so much of ourselves that we find it hard to turn around. I once took a group of children on a hike at night. I thought the map showed a point where the path would join another one to form a loop back to our camp, but it didn't. By the time we realized we were wrong, we had gone so far down the path it was easier to keep walking and hope the other end was closer.
Our conflicts can be like that. We think we have gone too far to turn around. Solomon was right when he included this Proverb: "An offended brother is more unyielding than a fortified city, and disputes are like the barred gates of a citadel." (Proverbs 18:19*)
We all know people who won't back down. Call it stubbornness or pride or something else, but it seems they wouldn't get past the offense even if someone bled. We may not live in walled cities, but we have seen barred gates.
It is easy to point the finger at other people, but let's be careful because this verse, like all of scripture, is not there to help us identify the faults of others. This verse may actually be for us. Who is the unyielding one? Who has put up the barriers?
"Pride only breeds quarrels, but wisdom is found in those who take advice." (Proverbs 13:10) Pride prevents us from seeing truth, and closes our ears to things which might change our minds. Its the principle of the thing that counts to us, and we're not going to back down.
The theological term for what we are talking about is repentance. We often hear about this word in the context of salvation, but repentance also has a role in everyday life. Repentance means, literally, to change directions. I have been going one way, but I change direction and go the other way. Pride keeps us from repenting - from changing direction. We have invested too much and gone too far to change things now....
As I think about my blood filling those tubes yesterday, a weird thought runs through my mind. If they didn't stop, I would bleed to death. If they didn't pinch off the tube, or pull out the needle, my blood would continue to pour out until my life went with it.
I know, weird thoughts, but true, and not so far from our topic today. When we hold onto our pride and refuse to let offenses go, when we refuse to take advice because it might make us change our minds, our effort is wasted. "Blood, sweat and tears" are good for some things, but not when it gets in the way of changing directions in conflict.
I hope this helps. Be on fire.
OnFire is a weekly letter on faith and character by Troy Dennis. Troy is the Pastor of Family Ministries at Highfield Baptist Church, Moncton NB Canada. This letter published Oct 22, 2009. To subscribe or reply, email firstname.lastname@example.org. Archives are located at www.onfireletter.com Blog located at http://onfireletter.blogspot.com/