Thus says the Lord: “So you, O son of man, I have made a watchman for the house of Israel; whenever you hear a word from my mouth, you shall give them warning from me. “If I say to the wicked, ‘O wicked one, you shall surely die,’ and you do not speak to warn the wicked to turn from their ways, the wicked person shall die in their iniquity, but their blood I will require at your hand.
“But if you warn the wicked person to turn from their ways, and they do not turn from their ways, they shall die in their iniquity, but you will have saved your life.”
Pause. Pray. Reflect.
Can I see the beauty in the midst of the mess? Yielding to my desires, fed by my wounds, I can make a colossal mess of things. In this state, often, all I can see is the mess – a clutter of dark noise swarming within and before me. I wonder, though, if the lens I am peering through informs my interpretation of reality. For example, right now, I’m sitting by a lake, which most times is a lovely experience. But on the heels of unsettling news, the setting lacks the sparkle and wonder it may otherwise reflect. In this moment, all I can see is the evil imposter soiling whatever beauty once existed. It’s rush hour, so the smells and tastes reek of filth from the passing traffic. The usually lustrous water is dappled with clusters of yellowed foam and darkened by the overcast and drizzling sky. When at peace, I can see beauty everywhere. In my disappointment, all that I see is blemished.
Perspective’s beauty lies in its changeability, however. And in Ezekiel 33, we hear exactly this: “whenever you hear a word from my mouth, you shall give them warning from me.” Perspective is not a permanent state – at least, it’s not meant to be. Yet when someone throws up a warning sign, how do I respond?
I have regular opportunities to walk with those people who help me turn my perspective from grime to glory. We will follow what we look to, and if my eyes fall for too long on the darkness of the soul, that is the direction my life will begin to travel. But if, rather, I turn to Jesus and His people for a heaping helping of Truth, beauty will become my guiding light. Light, then, reflects Light. It cannot reflect darkness, for there is no reflection without light.
To move toward this Light, I require a change in perspective. Changing my perspective, however, requires the willingness to receive the perspective of another. This is the virtue of humility (a virtue I regularly resist). A humble heart knows there is much to learn and grow into and is willing to be wrong sometimes in order to blossom. I desire this heart, and I also resist it – out of self-protection. I’ll admit, there are times when I would rather stew in my shady and tainted outlook or hide away in my sin than receive the correction of another. But am I really willing to die in my iniquity out of pride? To save face?
The Abiding Together podcast asks us to reflect on this question: “Do I have a teachable spirit?” Being teachable is a choice; it requires a teacher, and love and humility must be present in the student and teacher alike in order for there to be an obstacle-free passage through which the Spirit of God can enter. At times, my heart must be the open channel through which God’s wisdom can teach another. Equally important, though, is my willingness to open my heart to receive His wise and loving redirection.