My parents both enjoyed roller skating even before they were married and had me. They never dreamed their simple pleasure would be passed down to me in a big way. I remember the first time they took me skating when I was about 6 years old. The rink was big, noisy, and exciting! I was quivering with anticipation and could hardly sit still as Daddy laced up my skates. He helped me down the steps, placed my small hands on the rail, and gave me instructions to stay close to the handrail and make my way around the edge. Off Daddy flew on his skates leaving me to learn on my own. Quite the optimist and with great expectations I was very surprised when my first attempts met with a hard fall, one of many.
As I struggled along, my eyes became riveted to the center of the rink. There skaters were doing jumps, spins and figures. That’s what I wanted to do! I just knew if I could make it to that magic area in the middle of the rink I could do the same! Why not?! I began my painful, slow journey to my goal, roll, fall, get up, roll, fall, get up . . . As I plodded along, people whizzed by me on all sides. The good Lord protected me and oncoming skaters from being seriously hurt, because halfway there Daddy scooped me up and returned me to the cursed rail.
He gave me a stern lecture about not obeying him. I tried to explain to him that I didn’t want to do any rinky dinky (pardon the pun) stuff like that! I wanted to go out and do jumps and spins like the other skaters! I never considered I couldn’t do these things, to me it was just a matter of getting out there. Dad gave me a firm “no”, explaining that first I had to learn to stand up and SKATE. I was to say the least put out by his lack of understanding!
Then with a smile he said, “If you can go all the way around the rink once, I will buy you a coke.” My young, short attention span quickly diverted to the promised treat. I smiled and told Daddy it was a deal. Relieved that he had distracted my unrealistic ambition he went off to skate leaving me to keep up the end of the bargain. With all the strength my little arms could muster, I stiffened my legs, grabbed onto the rail and hand over hand pulled myself around the rink with only a few minor mishaps. As I approached my starting point I saw my Dad and hollered, “I did it!” His brow wrinkled as he said, “But you didn’t SKATE around the around the rink, you PULLED yourself around the rink!” “Yes”, I replied with my brightest smile, ‘but you didn’t say I had to skate, you just said I had to ‘go around’ and I did. Can I have my coke now?” Daddy shook his head and sighed as if I had taken advantage of our “gentleman’s” agreement. Nevertheless, he took my hand and rolled me to the snack bar. I remember contentedly sitting and drinking my coke and watching the other skaters pass by. Little did either of us know that night that a fire was lit within me. “Many years later, after 1000’s of hours of practice and 1000’s of dollars of my Daddy’s hard earned money, I did master those figures, jumps and spins, winning competitions as a competitive skater.
As a child I was trying to do everything backwards. Now being a youngster I had an excuse, but what about now? There are so many areas we as Christians attempt to do this very thing. We deceive ourselves into thinking we can do things in reverse and it will bring success. Satan is working right along with us and loving every minute of it when we put the ideas of the flesh before the wisdom of the Lord. He knows if he can perpetuate this method of thinking, that we will be caught in an unending circle of frustration and discouragement.
One of the most dangerous backwards thinking notions is concerning the lost. A person believes they cannot accept Christ as their Savior until they start living a better life. As children of God, we can see that there is no way to overcome sin without Christ living in you. Yet for the unsaved this can be a real stumbling block straight into hell. We have had people say, “Well I can’t come to church until I stop drinking (or gambling, or just fill in the blank with any sin)”. What they don’t realize is the devil will make SURE they continue to sin! For a couple of years Jerry and I witnessed to a wonderful, caring lady who was struggling with this perilous assumption. Finally one Sunday morning as she sat in tears wanting to be saved but feeling she could not, a light came on! She realized we are all unworthy and He wants us just as we are. She joyfully asked Jesus to save her and a few years later, on her death bed, she had complete joy and peace of where she would spend eternity.
2 Corinthians 6:2b “. . . behold, now is the accepted time; behold, now is the day of salvation.)”
Busyness is an epidemic in the 21st Century. It not only distracts us from what is important but has turned into a common excuse for not taking care of priorities. Those trapped fail to realize it is simply Satan’s merry-go-round. A never ending circle of “have to’s” that will never end until we step off and put God’s things first. How many times has your Bible reading and time with prayer dwindled to nothing and you told yourself, “When I am not so busy, then I will start spending time with the Lord.” 2 Timothy 2:15 tells us, “Study to shew thyself approved unto God, a workman that needeth not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth.”
Study takes time, diligence, and daily effort. Aren’t you persistent in making sure that your children do their homework each night? It is necessary for them to learn and apply that knowledge. Don’t you make a concentrated effort to spend time with your family? Relationships require consistent attention to create communication, strong bonds, and love. Do these things not apply to God’s Word and your relationship with Him? Once again the Devil will make sure you are “always” busy!
What about your service to the Lord? The same “backward thinking” rings loud and clear here also. We will be faithful to attend church when “things slow down”. It’s the same old merry-go-round we’re just riding a different horse! How about “Well, Sunday is my only day off!” God created that day as a day of rest and to worship Him, not for our sleep and recreation!” He gave you 6 days to take care of your stuff, Sunday is His! Hebrews 10:24-25 “And let us consider one another to provoke unto love and to good works: Not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together, as the manner of some is; but exhorting one another: and so much the more, as ye see the day approaching.”
Another favorite on the “do it in reverse list” concerns God’s money. Yes, His money. All we have belongs to Him and He shares generously. He allows us to keep 90% and all He asks for is 10%, a dime on every dollar. Pretty fair don’t you think? Yet only 5 percent of Christians in the U.S. tithe. The majority of churches everywhere struggle financially with numerous ones even closing their doors. All the while, God’s money sits in the pockets of many members. Prayer requests for financial blessings and help are commonly heard, yet many often wonder why God does not answer. I would venture to say most Christians want to tithe, but they are waiting until the “bills are caught up” and they are “out of debt”. They will never achieve that goal, and the will continue to battle making ends meet, because they are doing it backwards. They rob God (yes steal from Him) and the expect Him to bless them! “Will a man rob God? Yet ye have robbed me. But ye say, Wherein have we robbed thee? In tithes and offerings.” Malachi 3:8
Only when we are obedient to God will He bless us. Malachi 3:10, shows us this promise. “Bring ye all the tithes into the storehouse, that there may be meat in mine house, and prove me now herewith, saith the LORD of hosts, if I will not open you the windows of heaven, and pour you out a blessing, that there shall not be room enough to receive it.”
Lastly one of the area’s where backwards living does the most damage is in relationships. It makes for miserable marriages, unhappy families, fractured friendships, unbearable workplaces, and churches filled with discord and contention. The motto here tends to me, “Do unto me THEN I’ll do unto you.” The rational is, “When you start treating me right, I’ll treat you right. Change your attitude and I’ll change mine. Respect me, and then I will respect you. Be loving to me and then I will be loving to you.” In print here it looks ridiculous and immature doesn’t it? Yet in a huge majority of Christian lives today, it appears reasonable and logical. Well it may be to them but it is not to God!
He is our ultimate example of love and mercy. He loves us with Agape love: unselfish, sacrificial, and unconditional. It loves without reservation never considering if the one receiving of it is worthy or will respond in like manner. This is how He wants us to love, expecting nothing in return. “This is my commandment, That ye love one another, as I have loved you.” John 15:12. In fact, the more we love and the less it is returned, the more God is glorified. This will not only free you from bitterness, anger, and conflict, but it will allow the Lord to work through you in the lives of others in amazing ways. Expecting God to bless us when we disobey or before we obey qualifies for Albert Einstein’s definition of insanity: “Doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results”.
Backwards living just doesn’t work! It won’t bring our desired success. It’s God’s way or no way!
Published in the Oklahoma Baptist Newspaper, June 2014


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