I have Native American ancestry, my grandmother who was a strong Christian woman full of fire for Christ. Sometimes the Native American teachings and thoughts interwove with how she would teach me things. When I was younger I was trying to put together a puzzle, now as I recall, this wasn’t a puzzle made for kids, but one she had on the coffee table and would work on from time to time. I decided to “help” and could not get any pieces to fit. She saw me struggling, trying to put two mismatched pieces together, get frustrated after doing that repeatedly and she asked me what was wrong. I told her I just couldn’t get it to work. She asked if I had studied on my spirit stick to get the answer. I didn’t know what she meant. She showed me hers it was a small stick, gnarled, twisted, some knot holes that she kept on a little shelf. She explained that sometimes one needed to take themselves away from the problem and look to the spirit stick. I took it from her and tried looking at it, it was just a hunk of wood. I said I didn’t see any answer to the puzzle. Then, she said, well, that is my spirit stick, you have to go find your own, for only your spirit stick has the answers you need. You have to study it, look for patterns, look for the way it sometimes twists and turns. You need to go find your own spirit stick. SO, off I go, looking for my own spirit stick. I found a few, some were just sticks, a couple small pieces of boards, some that looked more like the one in the photo. I asked her which was my spirit stick. She again said, “You have to find your own. See which one has the answers you need.” Well, I studied on the sticks and bits of wood. Found one that seemed to have character I guess you might say. I studied it a bit, then, went back to the puzzle. I managed to get a few pieces together correctly. Then, I started having more issues with none fitting together. I studied the stick a time, and again, able to put more together.
One thing I didn’t realize immediately, in fact, didn’t understand for years, is that when we only focus on a problem the solution is often elusive. But, when we divert our attention elsewhere, let our minds relax so to speak, we can return to the problem and see things a little differently. I have at times, worked on cars, and sometimes, there is a bolt I cannot get to go back in properly. It is in a hard to reach location, may not be able to see it, but can sometimes feel it yet have trouble reaching it to put things together. I know it can be one, because if I got it out, I should be able to put it back. Just won’t line up properly now. If I keep trying, I get frustrated and it just won’t go. Finally, I get fed up and walk away for a bit and later return to try again. More often than not it goes right into position, turns easily and done. Diverting thoughts from problems gives us a new perspective when we look back at the problem.
Now, back to the spirit stick. I continued to work on the puzzle, fitting pieces together, looking at the spirit stick, working more on the puzzle. After a while, I got to a point I was having more trouble, I’d look at the stick, try again. Repeatedly, yet still no success. She was sitting near by, knitting or something, she was always knitting or doing some sort of craft project, and saw my frustration. She asked what was wrong, I told her, the spirit stick just won’t give me the answer I need right now. Does it even work?
OK, so, yes, the idea of taking your mind off a particular problem works, but the wisdom that she passed on to me next was lost on me for a few years, not quite within grasp of my childish mind. But, she then talked about how that even though sometimes a spirit stick works, that looking at it lets our minds step back for a while then return and find thoughts clearer, it wouldn’t always work, because a stick is a stick. Then said, “It’s the right stick for some problems, so you should hang on to it. But, THIS is my real spirit stick its the right spirit stick for all problems. Remember to look to THIS spirit stick when you have troubles.” And then, she reached back to the shelf with her spirit stick. That’s where she kept her Bible. She sat the Bible down on her lap and read a couple scriptures.
Ask, and it shall be given you; seek, and ye shall find; knock, and it shall be opened unto you: For every one that asketh receiveth; and he that seeketh findeth; and to him that knocketh it shall be opened. Matthew 7:7-8
But seek ye first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto you. Matthew 6:33
Of course, at the time my mind wondered why she said the Bible was a stick. As I got older I understood, the Bible is God’s word, and as such one way He speaks to it, I also understand that she meant to use it to see how Christ wants us to approach things and that the spirit stick reference referred to the Holy Spirit and to look to Him for help and answers. That only focusing on the problem can make it more difficult to solve; that diverting our attention elsewhere can let our mind relax enough to gain a new perspective; that the Bible has all the answers we need; and, the last lesson from that day, took years to understand, Yes, God will give us all we want, if we seek Christ first and allow Him to show us what we truly want, and not let our human minds decide that for ourselves. If we seek Him, we will find Him.
Lord, I thank you for all your wonderful creations, for your mercy and kindness. I ask that you continue to assist me as I try to better understand so many life lessons and how to use them now. That I use those lessons to seek you and to get closer to you in my daily walk. I ask that you continue to work in the hearts and minds of loved ones as well. Draw them to you and your salvation.
I praise you for your glory and all that you are.
Thanks again as I ponder on so many lessons that took this guy so long to truly understand. I hope something I write is helpful to others as much as it is to me. Please, do not hesitate to share if you think it may help someone.