July 25, 2016

Don’t want to be stuck in the mud . . . ?

The Calgary Stampede rodeo has an event called the Wild Pony Race. It is for kids. The ponies are small but totally unwilling to cooperate. A team of three is on the end of a rope tied to the pony’s halter. When the chute gate is opened, the team has twenty seconds to get one of their members on the pony’s back. They don’t have to stay there, but are scored according to how long it takes to just get there.

This year, Calgary experienced thunder storms every day of the Stampede. The rodeo arena was like a lake, with inches of mud. In the spirit of the cowboy world, the show must go on, including the pony race. When the finals were over, those young cowboys and cowgirls started playing in the mud, leaping in the air, landing face down, even rolling in it. (scroll down for photo) They were laughing, then later, they had to be hosed off, literally. They looked like they enjoyed both being muddy and being clean.

When I read the Scriptures this morning, I thought about the good feeling of being blessed. However, this description of what life is like for those who are blessed is in sharp contrast to the way our natural selves want to live . . .

“Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. Blessed are those who mourn, for they shall be comforted. Blessed are the meek, for they shall inherit the earth. Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they shall be satisfied. Blessed are the merciful, for they shall receive mercy. Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God. Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called sons of God. Blessed are those who are persecuted for righteousness’ sake, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.” (Matthew 5:3–10)

Instead of poverty of spirit, I’d rather be confident and sure of myself. I don’t like mourning or being meek. I’ve lots of other appetites besides hunger for righteousness. Being merciful does not come naturally, nor does purity of heart or being a peacemaker. As for persecution, no thanks. In other words, apart from salvation through faith in Jesus Christ, I’d rather play in the mud.

The Holy Spirit has other ideas. Chambers says “We do not need to be born again to apply the Sermon on the Mount literally. The literal interpretation of the Sermon on the Mount is child’s play.”

Is it? The children loved the mud and maybe loved the hosing down, but I don’t like either one. Like Chambers says, “The teaching of Jesus is out of all proportion to our natural way of looking at things, and it comes with astonishing discomfort to begin with.”

After years of reading God’s precepts and principles, I’m fully convinced that the only way to follow them is to be filled with the Spirit and totally yielded to Him. This means being the kind of person Jesus describes in those few verses.

It also involves the eventual realization that when mud is in my eyes, ears, and mouth, then I cannot see or hear or speak properly — for the Lord or even for myself. Being hosed off is a far more important blessing than playing around in the mud.

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