Friday, January 25, 2008

CIRCUMSTANCES #II: Getting the penny out of your eye!

Recently, a young friend shared a conversation she had with her pastor at her home church in Brazil. She had sought his counsel concerning a difficulty she was having; her pastor suggested it was “a tempest in a teacup.”

She objected to his suggestion and said, “Oh, Pastor, you don’t understand.” His response was perfect for her situation.

He took a penny (actually the Brazilian equivalent of a penny) and told the young woman the penny represented her circumstance. He then asked her to hold the penny up to her right eye her left eye closed. Having done so, he asked her what she could see with her right eye. “Nothing,” she responded, “the penny is in the way.”

“So is your difficulty.” He counseled. “Now, slowly move the penny away from your eye toward the sun, until it’s about a foot from your face, and tell me what do you see?”

“I see the outline of the sun.” She replied, as she squinted from the blinding light of the sun.

Her pastor gently but wisely scolded her. “You see, Kath, the penny is what you are worried over but the sun is the real problem. Get your eyes off your circumstances and look for the real problem.”

How I wish I had a dollar for every time I’ve had my eye on my circumstances and not on my problems.

Circumstance is a problem’s playground. No one remedies life’s circumstantial nuisances until they’ve dealt with the cause of their problem; and no one can eliminate the cause until they’ve defined their problem. History’s landscape is littered with the carcasses of lives devastated by this phenomena.

We must discipline ourselves to recognize the difference between symptoms and causes of problems; we must train ourselves in the art of problem definition.

It’s natural for us to focus on symptoms rather than causes because the symptoms are immediate and real. Such things as causes and definitions are more illusionary and intangible. But, all the same, we must get to work on this process.

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