At work one of my supervisors is constantly telling me I need to “train the customers”. If I teach them our policies, teach them how we are organized and teach them the procedures we want them to work with, our business will run smoother. The first time he ever said that to me I thought it was a bit strange. The more I thought about it the more I realized its weirdly possible to do. I set up an expectation of behaviour for the customer to meet. I’ve been working on pallet return training. People often come in and try to get their money back for their pallet deposits before they actually return their pallet. I always felt kinda mean telling them no and getting them to go back to their vehicle, drive to the back, unload the pallet, wait for an employee in the yard to be free to write up the paper work saying that it has indeed been legitimately returned and then, and only then, would I return their pallet. They often come back with the pallets without a receipt as well and so I have been training them at the time of purchase by telling them they must return with the receipt in order to be able to receive their money back. I’ve had to send a lot of people back to their vehicle for that but I can see that people are getting the hang of it. It only takes one or two trips and they come in the first time with their pallet return ticket in hand.

The more I thought about this, the more things I could think of that applied to this whole training thing. We are trained to drive, to stop at red lights and go at green.  We are all trained to leave the handicap parking spot open at the grocery store if you don’t have a pass. We’re all trained to wait our turn in a line up. I think even if you were the most beautiful person on earth, ifsomeone told you every day that you were ugly, you’d probably start believing them because someone is training you to think that. People can be shaped and trained very easily actually. Sometimes its terrifying how easy it is.  Look how easy it is for the government to introduce gay rights and allow abortion to be legal. We just bend in the sinful breeze, so to speak.  It seems things have to get very bad before the realization kicks in that we’ve been on autopilot, that we’ve allowed ourselves to be manipulated and trained in a bad way.

Have you ever been around a dog that has been abused?  They won’t  come to certain people, sometimes they won’t come to anyone at all. They wince and cower if you lift your hand to pet its head.  They have been trained that when the hand is raised abuse is close to follow. Human hearts and thinking can also be trained in a way that can be detrimental to our well being.  If you become accustomed to disappointment, if you become accustomed to rejection, to backstabbing, to constant comparison and never measuring up,  that can be paralyzing.  It puts up road blocks when it comes to trusting people. It puts up roadblocks and walls on the paths that lead to your heart. It keeps us from loving wholeheartedly,  it can keep you from being in healthy and happy relationships with family, with friends, with marriage partners and potential marriage partners.  These things drain us and drag us down. These things dampen the spirit in a way that can’t always be explained or put into words. Sometimes it can only be felt.

Even as I write this I almost feel scared but then I remember where I’m going with this. Here’s where I’m going. Someone said to me tonight, anything that takes the place of God in your thinking is an idol. So when you look to man for validation, when you worry about the power the government may have over you, when your worried about someone not loving you, those things are idolatry. Those things can be translated into not looking to God as your only comfort and hope in life. Those things show a lack of trust in God and the plan he has for your life. We do need to remind ourselves that we are only clay and God is the potter. We need those reminders. God controls the government and thereby controls the environment of our lives. The government does not control us. God will give us the unconditional love and acceptance we need, not man. We can never depend on man. We can never depend on ourselves. I honestly think that God gives us these little scares, he puts on the pressure sometimes as a precious reminder to us to come to him for all things.

I think we all know that not all training is bad.  We do need traffic rules and training in place to keep driving in order, to keep it safe. We need to learn that an oven is hot and we shouldn’t touch it or we’re going to get burned.  God talks to us in his word about training as well. He tells us in Proverbs 22:6 “Train a child in the way he should go, and when he is old he will not turn from it”. In 1 Timothy 4:7b-8  “..train yourselves to be godly. For physical training is of some value, but godliness has value for all things, holding promise for both the present life and the life to come.”.  If we look to God, stay in constant use of his word and pray to him often and wholeheartedly, we can, only with God,  train ourselves, our hearts, our minds, and our bodies to be used for the further glorification of his word.

I just wanted to finish off with a verse I just seen that I thought was very applicable and comforting for tonight.

“There is no wisdom, no insight, no plan that can succeed against the LORD.”

I’m so glad I can trust in a God who I can confess that about. We are all so comforted and so blessed.