Saturday, February 14, 2009

#28 Paradigm (pair-a-dime) Shift

Psalm 119:18 NASB "Open my eyes that I may behold wonderful things..."

I have always been an avid reader. My taste has varied over the years but
without a doubt I love to read. There came a time in my life-that still
exists-where I wanted to read books to enhance my personal development. One
book I came across during that time was one by Stephen R. Covey entitled
Seven Habits of Highly Effective People. As you may guess from the title,
Covey presents his view of seven habits that highly effective people have
and he suggests that the reader who incorporates these habits into their own
life will also elevate the rate of their effectiveness. One aspect that
Covey covers in the very first chapter is that of paradigm shifts. A
paradigm is the viewpoint through which you view a particular portion of
life. If, for instance, you were raised all your life being told that the
color that you see when you look at the sky is green then it would take a
shift in your paradigm to think and know that it is actually blue. Covey
uses an excellent illustration to emphasize this point.

He tells of a man who is traveling on the subway. It is late at night and
the man is weary and worn out from an exhausting week of work. All he wants
to do is sit there quietly and wait for his stop to come up so he can go
home and crash. His peace is quickly shattered by another group of people.
Not too far down from him there sat another man who had three kids. The man
sat there staring blankly out the window as his children ran wildly about
the small subway car. The kids were loud and unruly to the point that it
quickly irritated the work-worn man. After about 15 minutes he had enough
and decided to go over and ask the man to take control of his kids. With
disgust on his face he walks over and taps the dazed man on the shoulder.
With a startled reaction the man snaps around to see who needed his
attention. The tired business man proceeded to ask the man why he was just
sitting there while his kids ran loose all over the car. The dazed man
looked around as if noticing his children's actions for the first time.
With tears in his eyes and an apology in his voice he spoke to his irritated
riding companion. The dad said that he was sorry for the disturbance and he
promised to keep his kids quiet. The business man asked why he was just
sitting there in a daze. Fighting to hold back tears, the dad said that he
was trying to find a way to tell his children that their mother had just
died that afternoon. Immediately the business man felt about two inches
tall. He suddenly realized how selfish and careless he had been with his
words. He then apologized to the father and offered his sympathies for the
loss of his wife. With a sense of shame and embarrassment he went back to
his seat and watched the kids play as they would no doubt have too few days
of happiness in the near future. Truly his paradigm of the situation was
totally changed but not only of that situation. He moved forward from there
with a promise to himself to never assume to know what is happening based on
outward appearances.

When I think of this story it makes me think back to all the times in my
life when I thought my viewpoint or my paradigm was the correct one. We all
have the natural tendency to think that because we have arrived at a
particular way of thinking that it must be right. Sadly this is not always
the case. Surely there is wisdom in the Lord's counsel when He tells us
that there is wisdom in a multitude of counselors (Proverbs 15:22). The
older I get the more I realize how much I do not know. The older I get the
more I want to look to others who have gone before me and ask about how they
met with success. I think each of us should be and have mentors. We need
people around us who are not afraid to speak the truth in love. We need
people around us who will not be afraid to disagree with us if they should
need to do so. Not only that, but we need to be willing to be the voice of
difference if it will call others to take a stand for truth and justice.
But apart from our earthly relationships we should be deeply interested in
seeing if God wants us to make changes. There have been times in my life
that I have actually prayed and asked God to change my paradigm on something
if I was headed down the wrong path. It has been so awesome to see that
happen when God does it. Our theme verse this evening has the writer of the
Psalm asking that their eyes be opened to behold wonderful things. In a
world that is on the fast track to failure we need to become spiritually
sober and vigilant in all aspects of our lives. We need to realize that
time is short and every minute wasted headed down the wrong path is time
that could and should have been spent sharing the gospel of Christ.
Friends, I hope that you will join me in asking God to change our thoughts
for the better. I pray that you will seek God and ask Him to shift your
paradigms if indeed you need to make a shift. Until we grieve the Holy
Spirit it is never too late for the Lord to change our hearts and our
thoughts. I implore you to not go on living one more day without first
surrendering your heart completely to the Lord Jesus Christ. He has the
power to open our eyes that we might behold the wonderful things of God.

Dear Father,
As we come to You in prayer we need Your salve to anoint our eyes. Father,
we are too often blinded by our long-held perceptions of life and our sense
of the way things ought to work. Lord, may we never get to the point in our
lives that we refuse to hear Your words and live by Your guidance. Please
take our hearts of stone and give us each one a heart of flesh; a heart that
longs to beat in tune with Your heart. May we allow You to shift our
paradigms if we have our focus on the wrong target. We long for Your return
and we wish to live our lives in accordance with Your will. Even so, come
quickly that we may be with You forever more. It is in Jesus' name that we
pray, Amen.

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