May 3, 2011
Reel me in … please!
Submit to one another out of reverence for Christ (Ephesians 5:21, NIV).
Friend to Friend
A certain expert guide lived in the deserts of Arabia. He was known for his tracking skills and the fact that he never lost his way. The secret of his success could be found in the fact that he carried with him a homing pigeon that had a very fine cord attached to one of its legs. When the guide had doubts as to which path to take, he threw the bird into the air. The pigeon quickly strained at the cord to fly in the direction of home, leading the guide accurately to his goal.
We all need connections to people who will point us in the right direction. We will inevitably take a wrong path or make a wrong turn and there will be times when we have no idea which way to go or the right choice to make. We must then turn to God and to those who hold us accountable.
Accountability is often seen as confining - a relationship straight jacket that limits freedom of expression and hinders those who “march to the beat of a different drummer.” Actually, the opposite is true. Accountability frees us to grow and change and is an important part of every healthy relationship.
When I married into the Southerland family, I didn’t know that tent camping was part of the deal. However, I decided that I could learn to camp and maybe even enjoy it. My first camping trip to Lake Greason in the foothills of the Ozarks was an interesting and educational experience. It did not take me long to learn the daily routine. Each morning, Dan’s mom would prepare a huge breakfast. The kids then did the dishes and cleaned up while Mom changed into her swim suit, donned her sun glasses, grabbed a towel and headed for the lake. On the shore, she would find an inner tube, position her towel in just the right spot over the tube, turn around and sit down. She would then float blissfully for hours. There was one problem with this plan. Lake Greason had a current that would carry Mom down the lake, around the bend and into the path of ski boats. Several times a day, someone would have to swim after her and pull her back to the safety of the shore, where she would profusely thank them and go right back to floating. Finally, one of the kids came up with a great idea – a rope. One end of a ski rope was tied to Mom’s inner tube and the other end to a wooden stake driven securely into the ground. She could then float until the rope ran out and someone “reeled her in.”
What a perfect picture of accountability – giving someone who loves you the permission to “reel you in” when they see you headed in a dangerous direction. Our willingness to make ourselves accountable to others will ultimately yield boundaries, parameters and behavioral lines that translate into hedges of protection in our lives.
Honestly, most of us have experienced very little accountability in life because at the heart of being accountable to someone is our willingness to be submissive to them. Contrary to popular belief, submission is not a dirty word. God never intended submission to be demeaning or smothering. Submission is protection and an intentional willingness to consider first the desires and wishes of another before our own. God places others in our lives to see things that we cannot see, to encourage and build up, to correct, love and protect. Still, we tend to view accountability as a crutch and submission as a weakness. We need to change our viewpoint and realize that Godly submission is harnessed strength, a controlled strength that is the natural result of obedience to God’s commands.
Jesus submitted Himself to the will of His father. He willingly laid down His desires and dreams, His plans and hopes in total submission. Out of that total surrender came the most powerful life ever lived. When we willingly submit ourselves to God and choose to make ourselves accountable to others, we will experience a new kind of freedom and power in our lives.
God did not create us to live alone. We were created to need each other – for many reasons. One of the most important reasons is accountability. It is much easier to make the wrong choices and to take the wrong turns when no one is watching. I often wonder how many marriages have failed, how many friendships have been destroyed, or how many lives have been wasted because there was no accountability. I praise God every day for a husband and friends who are willing to be a safety net in my life by holding me accountable. If you don’t have an accountability partner, don’t wait another minute. Ask God to send you a friend who loves you enough to reel you in.
Father, I come to You today, submitting myself to You. Thank You for the protection, direction and power that comes from that submission. Forgive me for the times when I have been silent while someone I loved made dangerous decisions. Give me the courage to confront in love. Help me learn how to receive correction and to be accountable to others. Thank You for Your love that never condemns but always stands ready to keep me from making mistakes. And when I do fall, thank You for being there to pick me up and walk with me.
In Jesus’ name,
Now it’s your turn
Proverbs 27:6 says, “Faithful are wounds of a friend.” What does this verse mean to you? How does this verse relate to accountability?
Name two people in your life to whom you are accountable.
Are they willing to tell you the truth instead of just saying what you want to hear?
Do they constantly point you toward Christ?
Who is accountable to you?
Are you willing to step between that person and the wrong choices they make?
Can you confront in love for the sole purpose of restoration – not winning?
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