Mutadis Mutandis: To change only that which must be changed.
Our kids were out playing with the kids in the village yesterday, and they all began to climb a Breadfruit tree. 10 feet up in the air, they all felt like they were on top of the world, surveying the back fields from their 'lofty' position. It wasn't until they began to think about getting down out of that tree that something else began to set in...
They reached the point where the only thing left to do was to get their bellies down on the branch, swing down to hang, and then, gulp, let go.
For my daughter, she couldn't quite wrap her mind around the hanging and letting go part... She became stuck in the tree as she faced her trial.
There was Fear. There was Shaking. There were the Weak Knees, but then came Discouragement, and eventually what began to seep in was none other than the darkest of foes: Timidity.
Mocking and Jeering came running along soon afterward, and suddenly for one little girl, playing...well, it didn't really feel like playing anymore. It was more like a battle, a struggle, a tease, and it wasn't very fun at all.
Slowly she became paralyzed by the words that take life, and defeat began to soak in with tears. A Haitian man eventually climbed to get her down and she ran into the house.
So today we talked about Mutadis Mutandis, about how there are plenty of good things about us, and some things that aren't. But instead of throwing the baby out with the bathwater, maybe we should just try changing only that which must be changed.
The Bible says God did not give us a spirit of timidity, which is not to be confused with humility. He doesn't mean for us to be faint-hearted or feeble-minded. He wants us to live abundantly, in confidence, with courage.
We all marched back out to where the Battle of the Breadfruit Tree happened. We acknowledged the defeat, and we attacked. We came armed for battle. Along with us were Encouragement, Love, Respect, Patience, and Honor.
Her brother climbed the tree, several times, and jumped down, several times, to give her a good example. She studied him and watched his skills as he slowly became more and more exhausted.
Her Haitian sister climbed the tree and showed her the best way, the Haitian way, to climb.
Her mother and her father stood down below, arming her with Courage, promising to catch her, and eventually, a little girl who could still taste the bitterness of defeat found herself hanging, and then dropping down into Victory.
She Overcame. She Conquered. She prevailed. She lived.
That's how your Father sees you, did you know that?
Of course He sees you from time to time, stuck up in the tree, but that tree doesn't define you. It's just a place where you happen to be stuck. You can't see that when you're hanging, your toes are really only dangling a few feet in the air. From your perspective, that fall is an eternity. But how far does it look from God's perspective?
To give us just a little special dose of illustration, God saw fit to let a Haitian man walk up to us just after my daughter jumped out of the tree. My Haitian daughter, Oberline, was up there still, just about to jump herself.
"You shouldn't be up in Breadfruit trees!" the man yelled. "People die from climbing Breadfruit trees all the time! A man just died the other day!" He said.
"It's ok, my friend." I replied. "She's used to it, and they aren't going to climb any higher, just to the first branch."
"It doesn't matter!" The man responded again. "You can fall out of a Breadfruit tree from just a few feet, and DIE!" He warned.
I looked up at Oberline, who was now clinging to the branch, much like my other daughter was last night. I could see Fear once again coming out to play, and I knew Timidity would soon be on the way....
"Don't discourage, please." I said to him. I looked at Oberline, "Don't listen to that discouragement Oberline. You're doing just fine. You come on down when you're ready. You can do it."
I watched her take that defeat and throw it away.
She smiled at me...and she jumped.
"And we urge you, brothers, warn those who are idle, encourage the timid, help the weak, be patient with everyone." 1 Thess 5:14