Oops, I Did It Again
Sometimes, when I look back over my life, I realize how many times God has had to save me. As much as I hate to admit it, many times He has had to save me from myself! My Savior has had to save me, too many times, from doing things I know I shouldn’t be doing. That’s when God’s Holy Hand, reaching in to intervene, reminds me of the process used to get meat to a state where it is chewable and tasty. In the normal process of meat preparation, a good marinade should be all that is needed to make it palatable. But sometimes, when the meat is a little tough, you need a meat tenderizer to soften it up. God can be like a tenderizer at certain points in our lives when we need some ‘softening’.
Now, I believe God prefers to marinate us with His Word and Spirit. That is what I call the ‘spice route’, where He uses the salt of His Word and the fragrance of His Spirit to get our attention. However, there are those times God needs to be that tool, you know, the one that looks much like a hammer. That tool is a pretty harsh tool and it is used to ‘pound out’ the resistant areas of our lives to bring in the taste and tenderness.
Time to Tenderize
There are times in life where we are like the reference in Acts 7:51 where God looks at us like a “stiff-necked people.” That is when we resist the direction of the Holy Spirit to ‘do right’ and follow our own feelings and desires. That begins what I call the ‘tenderization season’ in our living where God steps in and creates a level of interference to get us back on track. It can be momentary, where the correction is only for an instant (like the marinade) or it can last longer if the actions warrant it. The hardest response is when the tenderization comes by way of the ‘hammer’ – think Jonah, when he disobeyed God’s direction because he wasn’t ‘feeling it’ (Jonah 1:1-3). Or the Israelites so many times throughout the Bible when they refused to follow God’s way.
Remember, when God’s refining fire comes into your life, it is much easier to BEAR if it comes via the light touch of God’s ‘marinade’ vs. the blunt force (and prickly points) of a tenderizing hammer. God loves us enough to give us the free will to choose His Will. He also loves us enough to use discipline to help us recognize that His course is the best course. Tenderization is discipline. I believe this allows us to understand the ramifications of our choices and not blame Him when our decisions are not aligned with His.
Tenderization is Discipline
His Word reminds us that He is always available to save us from ourselves. The door is never closed to make a ‘hard turn’ to get out of the trouble we have created and make to choice to choose Him. Think about the prodigal son, whose choices led him to a place where even pigs lived better than he did (Luke 15:13-16). Once he ‘got it’ he ran back home to the loving arms of a waiting father. That is how God is with us. However, one thing I have learned in my own faith walk, God will not continue to give you rope after life-saving rope without some ‘tenderization’. This is part of the loving discipline of a loving God who wants us to experience the best things in life.
So…Our humanity will sometimes create tenderizing seasons in life.
It is better to avoid the hammer by marinating in God’s Word, spending time in prayer to listen to His voice and following His directions. If you find yourself on the wrong end of God’s discipline, don’t ignore Him (like Jonah), follow Him. And always remember, God loves you and only wants the best for you.
For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand that we should walk in them.” – Ephesians 2:10 (NIV)