Richard Bach wrote a little book called Illusions - The Adventures of a Reluctant Messiah. In that book he said something I've always thought was pretty profound. "We teach best, what we most need to learn." Never has that felt more true to me, than it has in the past year. Keep it in mind as I attempt to tell you the story this image represents to me. It's a deeply humbling thing to recognize in yourself, that you've been teaching best, what you most need to learn.
I have a dad who prays for me faithfully. I don't mean the little platitudes that smack vaguely of condescension. I mean the deep and heartfelt prayers of a warrior. When I was a teenager and my parents were newly divorced - he took me in. We lived in a tiny two bedroom apartment in California where I could hear the freeway traffic when I opened the windows. Even though we were parent and child, we really didn't know each other very well at the time. I was 16 and I still hadn't learned to see my father as a man separate from me... with his own journey, his own heartache and his own struggles completely apart from my own.
He had a walk in closet in his bedroom that didn't have any clothes in it. It was instead full of instruments, stereo equipment, a microphone and a very well worn bible. It became his prayer closet, his own personal war room where he would go to do battle in the spirit when he had no idea how to deal with it in the physical. I would lay awake at night and listen to the sounds of singing, guitar, traffic and sometimes... weeping. He took the things that hurt him to the God who restored his heart at a time when it was broken in ways no man could ever fix. These are the experiences that have shaped the depths of who I am. He is the one I turn to when I have exhausted my own prayers, when wisdom eludes me, and when hurt engulfs my own heart, the way it did his.
In the wee hours of this morning, when I quit my tossing and turning and got up out of my bed, I read this:
"THE SEED OF OFFENSE
“Even so the tongue is a little member, and boasteth great things. Behold how great a matter a little fire kindleth” James 3:1-5
Nothing in life starts big: the same with offense. An offense always starts as a thought, and thoughts are seeds, that enter your mind. Seeds of offense are the beginning of developments of offense in our lives. But we have the ability to refuse the thought or uproot the seed before an offense is fully-grown in the garden of our hearts.
There are four basic ways those seeds get sown into us:
What others said to us (Prov. 15:1, Prov. 12:18)All some people ever heard in their lives were cutting and abrasive words. Sarcastic speeches that pierce like a sword. Sarcastic people can cut you to pieces with their tongue.
What others did not say to us (Proverbs 25:11,15)You could be offended because you don’t feel appreciated. No one ever says thank you to you or compliments your effort.
What others did to us (negative actions and reactions) (Psalm 55:12-16)
What people didn’t do for us (favor or assistance we did not receive) (Proverbs 13:13)"
And this: "What you say and do shows whether you have been conquered by the spirit of offense or not. Have you ever been around people who constantly talk about their past and how badly they hurt? Perhaps they were in an abusive relationship, and have never been able to forgive that person who abused them. Such kinds of people are full of resentment. Even if you have the right to be offended because you are not the one who is in the wrong, don’t yield to the spirit of offense. You’ve got to learn to put a guard over your mouth. So that you are not taking that offense from one person to another."
And so it is, that a father prays, and a daughter recognizes that, of all the gifts in her life, this one is most precious of all. And that she is teaching what she herself... most needs to learn.
Psalm 51:10-12 Create in me a clean heart, oh God, and renew a right spirit within me. Cast me not away from Your Presence, oh Lord. Take not thy Holy Spirit from me. Restore unto me, the joy of your salvation. And renew a right spirit within me.