The art of negotiation starts early. We’ve all seen the toddler given a plate of food that does not include pasta or chicken nuggets. He vacillates between refusing to take a single bite to avoiding the inevitable by simply playing with the food or entertaining everyone at the table. Finally, he offers, “if I take two bites, can I be done?” His weary parents agree and his bargaining skills are set in motion. He learns to bargain for everything from extra hours before bedtime to the family car on the weekend.
We all, to some degree, are artful negotiators. We bargain with bosses, parents, spouses, the scale and even ourselves. And, if we are not careful, the idea of bargaining – “if I….then __________” – carries into our spiritual life. In Thailand, the Buddhist monks adhere to a long list of rules and restraints in an effort to make themselves purer and to achieve enlightenment. Even those who are not monks, work carefully to keep the spirits happy – believing if they do so, they will have good karma and a happy life.
It is not hard to develop the same type of mindset even as Christians. However, there are no works of righteousness that can either earn our salvation or guarantee us a trouble-free life. We do not “bargain” for our salvation and we cannot bargain with God in order to control or manipulate our circumstances.
These are my thoughts from this week’s prompt at Five Minute Friday – IF. They include just a hint of some of the things that impacted me while I was on my trip to Thailand. I hope to include more in the days (or weeks) ahead. I want to thank each one who prayed for me while I was gone. It is hard to believe the trip has come and gone but I pray God will daily continue teaching me from the experiences I had while there. It can be hard to process it all at once…so I’m looking for little nuggets of new truth each day!
I did have the opportunity to help teach English to 11th-grade students at a Buddhist temple. Of all the teaching activities we did, this was definitely the most fun. So many laughs!!