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A Discussion of Messianic Judaism, the Emerging Messianic Jewish Paradigm, and Related Leadership Issues from the Preoccupied Mind of Rabbi Stuart Dauermann, PhD.

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Tuesday, September 12, 2006

Roses and Thorns

For reasons stated on this blog, by God’s design, the community confirms the validity of a prophet’s call. Also, people experience and Scripture demonstrate that people who insist on being self-validating in their claims to have "heard from God" are more often than not self-deluded, even if benignly so. Hence, the wisdom of checking out our perceptions not only against Scripture and sound reason, but also against the voices of community and tradition. Some people find this irksome, as if such a teaching pretends to obliterate the truth that God does speak to individuals. What people miss is that God’s truth can be both/and rather than either/or. And sometimes it doesn’t occur to either/or people that yes, God does speak to individuals, and yes, God does validate or invalidate prophetic words through the community, and yes, God does validate or invalidate the community's perceptions through prophetic insights, and that, yes, the truth may just be both/and.

But it is.

So, without at all contradicting what I have said elsewhere on this blog about all of these matters, I would like to share here about how I think God spoke to me through a series of recent incidents.

Recently, two friends criticized me in public in a manner they later regretted. The Jewish tradition calls this “halvanat panim,” and it is considered a major ethical breech. Jewish religious culture’s sensitivity to this is not unlike Sino/Japanese culture’s sensitivity to not causing someone to “lose face.”

My coping mechanism of choice when such things happen is to withdraw. However, in both of the cases I allude to here, instead, I wrote privately to each of the parties, and resolved matters. Still, I was thinking of how difficult and wounding human relationships can be.

Later that same week, I was moving a very heavy electric piano into my wife’s van. In doing so, I brushed against a bare rose bush and caught a thorn in my thigh. I then discovered my trouser let was wet with blood, as I had bled profusely.

Then it all came together in my mind. Human relationships are like living together amidst a thorn bush. It is unavoidable that people wound us and that we wound others. This is the nature of relationships of any kind of intimacy. The task in living together is to learn to expect wounds, to learn not to wound others, and take care to bind up wounds—both our own and those of others.

In my experience, one of the earmarks of God's speaking is that it is never coercive. In fact, heeding the voice of God inevitably increases freedom. "Where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is liberty"(2 Cor 3:17).

I invite you to think about the thorniness of your own intimate relationships. May God help you to bind up more wounds than you cause. And may he bind up your wounds too.

Abraham Lincoln has a related insight. He said this: "We can complain because rose bushes have thorns, or rejoice because thorn bushes have roses."

Rejoice. And again I say, rejoice.

And smell the roses.

At 9/14/2006 8:47 PM, Anonymous douglas said...

I am reminded of a line I heard the other day about marriage (making me think both of my wife and me and of God and His people):

Marriage is a place where two people go that requires a very stubborn kind of love.

At 9/14/2006 9:36 PM, Blogger Stuart Dauermann said...

Dear Douglas,

Thank you for increasing the light.


At 10/18/2006 9:45 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

That quote you said about "...a stubborn kind of love"

I heard that on NPR a few weeks ago; do you remember the author/article?


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