Saturday, May 21, 2016

Step-by-Step Instructions for Life

It never fails. The seniors at the nursing home file in, and see me setting up my easel for their art class.
"Oh I can't draw at all," they say. Every time. Without fail.
"I can teach you."
"We'll see." They chuckle with a knowing glance at their friends. Every time. Without fail.

Step by step I instruct them, and step by step, they realize they can draw. They just needed to be shown the way. In fact, we had trouble making them stop drawing when class ended. The Activity Director had to pull the paper out of some of their hands.
"You need to stop or you'll be late to lunch!"

It's always a good sign when people don't want to leave at the bell. If I could be as successful in every area of life as I am at teaching people how to draw, I would be giving Zig Ziglar a run for his money. (For those of you who don't know Zig Ziglar, he is the quintessential success story, and is famous for his motivational books such as Success for Dummies.)

My formula is fail-safe. I teach drawing with basic shapes, and I train them to see the basic shapes in every object they wish to draw. Then I guide them line by line, shape by shape. They grow entranced as simple shapes begin to transform into the very thing they were certain they could never draw.

As one lady started packing up, she thanked me, and asked if I had always been an artist.
"Yes, always," I said.
"Well it's kind of you to take the time to teach us."
"Oh I love showing people anyone can draw."
"Well...it isn't really drawing. You showed us how to do it."
"That's how I learned to draw," I countered. "I got books out of the library on drawing with basic shapes and I followed step-by-step instructions. Soon, I began to figure out the shapes myself, and then I learned I could draw anything on my own."
"Hmmm." She glanced at her drawing.
"Did you make a drawing that looks exactly like what you wanted?" I asked.
"Yes," she said, smiling.

So many of us wallow through life like we are blind gnats in a mud pit. It doesn't need to be this way. We really do have a step-by-step guide, with clear instructions. If we just followed that guide, life would be so much less filled with angst, and filth, and despair.


Yes. Of course I mean the Bible. The more you follow it, step-by-step, the more you figure out how to live a little more exactly the beautiful plan drawn for you. Soon you realize you can do anything, if you just follow those instructions. They become a part of you.

 Here the analogy ends. You will never really do it on your own, the way I learned to draw on my own. But the good news is that God's Holy Spirit indwells every believer, and He will whisper the instructions when you fall short, when your strength is gone, and when you have lost your way.

Sort of related, but a tangent. JUST IN CASE I need chemo, I decided I needed to practice drawing on eyebrows. My incredibly wonderful daughter-in-law (DIL) sent me an eyebrow pencil, and assured me there were YouTube videos that could instruct me. I watched two of them. All recommended practicing while my eyebrows were still present.

I sent this picture with a text to my DIL: How did I do?
As always, she was encouraging.

Frankly, even without chemo, the outer edge of my eyebrows are already vanishing. The eyebrow pencil arrived not a moment too soon. And it really is not hard. Especially because I found the proper guide, and listened carefully, and followed the instructions.
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Psalm 32:8 

I will instruct you and teach you in the way you should go; I will counsel you with my eye upon you.

When the Spirit of truth comes, he will guide you into all the truth, for he will not speak on his own authority, but whatever he hears he will speak, and he will declare to you the things that are to come.

And your ears shall hear a word behind you, saying, “This is the way, walk in it,” when you turn to the right or when you turn to the left.

“Ask, and it will be given to you; seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you. For everyone who asks receives, and the one who seeks finds, and to the one who knocks it will be opened. Or which one of you, if his son asks him for bread, will give him a stone? Or if he asks for a fish, will give him a serpent? If you then, who are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father who is in heaven give good things to those who ask him!

Your word is a lamp to my feet and a light to my path.

If any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask God, who gives generously to all without reproach, and it will be given him. But let him ask in faith, with no doubting, for the one who doubts is like a wave of the sea that is driven and tossed by the wind.

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