While they watch.
I watered my planters this morning. It's interesting to watch because I only have to deeply water the top one as they share and drip water from one to the other. As the top one is filled it passes on the water to the one below it - hydrating and saturating the soil of each one in the little plant family on my wall.
God began teaching me a lesson through my watering and connected it through the events of yesterday and a Bible story.
Yesterday I spent the day with someone I'm close to and as we were working I began to notice just how many things that she said that sounded just like me. Things that she did that were just like me. It was like looking in a mirror and I began to wonder just when that happened. It brought me back to the story that I was reading in the book of Ezekiel chapter 12 (vs. 1-20) and it all became connected.
The prophet Ezekiel was living among a rebellious people, those living under the rule of the Babylonians. God was frustrated with them and had had it. This is what He told Ezekiel, the prophet, to do....my own paraphrase of course:
Look... you are living out here with a bunch of unruly, defiant people. They don't see or hear me at all. I have told and shown them over and over how to pull it together but they aren't getting it. So, here is what you do. I'm going to give you the specific step by step instructions of my plan - of what's going to happen to them because of their rebellion. I want you to make sure that you do each step right in front of them while the people watch you. Walk it out before them. Model it for them. That way if they see you model it before their eyes they may actually listen and understand. In other words, I'm going to use you as a sign that I am God.
Now, God's wrath was going to come down on these people because of their rebellion and they were headed for exile as captives (verse 11). But, if you'll look in the passage at verses 3-6, the Lord used the phrase "while they watch" 5 times in His instructions to Ezekiel. Five times. "For I have made you a sign….. then they will know that I am the Lord”.
Neuro-research calls it a mirror neuron theory. Research on monkeys and on humans has shown that certain groups of neurons in the brain fire when you watch someone perform an action. Monkeys have even been known to learn by hearing someone in another room performing an action. Studies on humans have shown that we empathize with others through our neuron system mirroring their emotions. We learn through imitation - watching or listening - and we pass down what we learn to others through our actions.
My relative has learned my ways through watching me.
Contagious learning occurs through coming in contact with the behavior of another person either directly or indirectly. It happens when you watch or listen to someone perform a task - the visual model or visual example stimulates a specific part of your brain so that learning can be passed from one person to another.
And you never know when it's happening. I was contagious and didn't know it.
God's design. His miraculous, amazing design for passing on His ways. He was blatant enough to spell it out for Ezekiel - let them watch you. They will see what you do and learn from it.
Who is watching as you walk through the tough times? Your children, friends, family? Are you walking in a way that would show those watching that “I am the Lord” (verse 16)? What better way to model God's forgiveness than letting them watch as we make our mistakes and walk through our mishaps? Modeling only the good times will give a warped sense of reality. Teach by allowing others to watch you trust God through the good - bad and the ugly. He wants to use us as a sign to others - a sign to show that He Is God.
Is it our job to make it all work perfectly as they watch? Absolutely not. We are only to be faithful in our trust in God - it is up to Him to make it work.
So.... be contagious. Pass it to others by letting them watch as God shows Himself faithful in your own life.
My prayer today is:
Father God, help me to be contagious. Help every emotion I emit, every word that I say, every behavior that I perform point others to You. Even as they watch me muddle through my own life - as I learn through my mistakes and mishaps...use me as a sign that You. Are. God.
I love you dearly. Amen.