Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Be Careful

I was reading the chapter six in my stats textbook which is an introduction to probability. I didn’t think I needed an introduction to this word having been a teacher and a mother for more than 20 years:

Mom, can my friend spend the night?


Teacher, if it stops raining can we go out for recess?


See what I mean? I have used the word well over the years. My life experience caused me to approach the practice problems in the back of the chapter with unusual confidence; until I saw question number three:

3. What is the probability of selecting a score greater than 45 from a positively skewed distribution with M=40 and SD=10?

The question itself is more of that stats gobbled-gook that I happily ignore but it was the warning after the question that caught my eye:

(be careful.)

The author of my stats text does not have to worry. I am doing my best to be careful in that class.

In my Bible reading for today I found the following verse that has its own warning:

Rend your heart and not your garments. Return to the LORD your God, for He is gracious and compassionate, slow to anger and abounding in love, and He relents from sending calamity. Joel 2:13

Because our God is gracious and compassionate, slow to anger and abounding in love, we can be careful to rend our hearts and not our garments. The stats question was a trick question but God does not trick. He doesn’t want actors who make a show of repentance; tearing clothes and dramatically vowing to repent only to proceed to repeat previous behavior. He wants us to rend our hearts. He wants us to expose ourselves to Him. He wants us to be vulnerable to His love and grace. Then we can feel His abounding love.

I have some good friends sitting in a hospital family room making decisions about a loved one’s care. The statements of probability they hear from the doctor are not good. Their hearts are exposed to their God and they are vulnerable to His love and grace. The decisions they will make are serious and real and so they are being careful.

They are a large and loving family. Their father is being tended to by doctors and nurses and their mother gathers with her daughters and sons. They have each other and this is no small thing: together they pray for their husband, father and grandfather. Together they explain to their children what is happening and together they share their strong faith. Together they work and plan and and sigh and cry as new news from the doctor brings new decisions to be made.

Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles, and let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us. Let us fix our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy set before him endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God, Consider him who endured such opposition from sinful men, so that you will not grow weary and lose heart. Hebrews 12: 1-3

They are not alone. This family forms a cloud of witnesses around their husband and father and their friends gather around them in prayer. Hovering above, around and in, this circle of children of God is their heavenly father loving and caring for them. This verse does not tell them to “be careful.” It tells them to throw off their coats and run. It tells them to do this with their eyes fixed on Jesus. He knows how they feel, He knows what they need to do, and He runs the race with them.

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