A Book Review of “Who Moved My Cheese? by Spencer Johnson, M.D. (As it relates to the Christian life)

We had been extra busy with our travels this past year. (Belize, Oman, Jamaica, Trinidad, Malaysia. Not to mention all of our travels inside the States.) I needed a breather. I had big plans for this winter. Just some quiet time to refocus and recharge. I was going to have a staycation to read, write, study, pray and fast.

Besides being a Pastor, Global Missions Director, business owner, and farmer, my husband also takes ministers on guided duck hunts. It’s not uncommon for him and my boys to be away a few days each week during duck season, hosting clients. That being the case, once the holidays have passed and the last half of duck season is in full swing, is usually the perfect time for me to plan my Staycation.

Things don’t always (rarely) go as we plan. Unexpected circumstances usually dictate that some measure of impromptu/ad lib living be implemented. We live ever-changing lives from day to day, and often, hour to hour.

When my grandson’s preschool closing unexpectedly, naturally, Memaw was recruited to fill in keeping him a couple days a week. Mind you, I wouldn’t have it any other way, but the Little Prince is a high energy, full throttle, hands on kind of guy. Nothing else gets accomplished when he’s on the premises. This meant that everything I would have done on those days was shuffled to other days. Hence, not much time for a staycaytion in December, plus all of the holiday decorating, cooking, shopping, and end of year parties.

Then there was the weather. Everyone knows you can’t control the weather. It’s winter, so you expect it to be cold. Single digit cold, however, is too cold. Now, you may not know how that affects duck hunting. Ducks need open water to find food. If they don’t have open water, they stay put, usually on wildlife refuges. If they aren’t flying off the refuges to look for food, there are no ducks for hunters to hunt. Hence, the reason I had anxious hunters at home for two weeks of my staycation. That was my last week of December, and my first week of January.

Lastly, came the flu. Influenza. Most of you know it is as nasty as it sounds. First my son, next my daughter, then myself. We actually cancelled midweek service at Church because so many of our families had been stricken by this malevolent bugger. Perhaps you think that gave me extra time to stay at home and do my thing…really? You thought that???

Maybe you haven’t had the pleasure of meeting Mr. N. Flu Enza, or perhaps it’s just been a while, and you have forgotten his particular charms. Body aching like it went through a car crusher. Skin sizzling like it’s about to combust from fever. Limbs convulsing from being chilled with hypothermic blood…Happy Staycation to me!

I said all that to say this, things change. That’s just living. It’s important for us to learn how to adjust to changes in a healthy way. Enter this little jewel…

My changing circumstances reminded me of a little book titled, “Who Moved My Cheese?” by Spencer Johnson, M.D. You can find it at SPENCERJOHNSON.COM or AMAZON.COM.

It’s a parable about two little mice, named Sniff and Scurry, and two little people, named Hem and Haw. These four characters represent four distinct ways of responding to changing circumstances within each of us. Sniff and Scurry represent our simple ways of responding, while Hem and Haw represent our more emotional responses.

In the story, the mice and the little people get up every day and find their way through a maze to find cheese at various cheese stations located throughout its corridors. They have been enjoying a large stash of cheese at Cheese Station C for an extended time, and become quite comfortable and satisfied with their situation.

The cheese at Cheese Station C, however, begins to dwindle, over time and little by little. One day the mice and the little people arrive at the station, as they have done for a long time, only to discover the cheese is completely gone.

Sniff and Scurry do what their names imply. They immediately put on their running shoes and begin to scurry about and sniff out in the maze to find more cheese. Hem and Haw, on the other hand, have purely emotional responses. Their reactions range from one end of the emotional spectrum to the other, as do ours most often, when our circumstances change.

Finally, Haw decides he must go out into the maze in search of new cheese. He knows if he stays, he will die. He feels empathy for his friend, Hem, but cannot afford to wait any longer, and sets out on his own. In the end, he does find new cheese and learns a lot about how to react to change in the process, leaving a handwritten trail for Hem should he decide to come in search of new cheese, as well.

So, you may be wondering how this little parable applies to your life? How is this a spiritual concept? “Who Moved My Cheese?” isn’t written from a Christian perspective. It teaches a principle, however, that can be applied to any area of our lives.

Things change. That’s just living. Learn how to cope in a healthy manner. Click To Tweet

Nothing stays the same. Weather, seasons, finances, jobs, health, age, relationships, opinions, Church, responsibilities. These are all extremely fluid.

What you want, and feel you need, in each of these areas is the metaphorical cheese. As Christians, our relationship with God is the cheese.

When circumstances beyond our control change in any area of our lives, we have a choice of how we will respond. Often we think that to respond in the simplistic ways of scurrying around and sniffing out a new venue for keeping our relationship right with God during difficult times is backward and foolish. We usually tend to use our highly intellectual or highly emotional reasoning.

Telling God how unfair our situation is. How we don’t deserve what has come upon us. How angry we are, even at God Himself, for allowing this change of circumstances. How we are going to refuse to be budged from what we’ve always done, and always thought, and always seen results from.

Denial can be deadly. Click To Tweet Panic paralyzes. Click To Tweet Stubbornness is a form of rebellion, which is sin. Click To Tweet

Anything worth having, takes maintenance, and once that something is gone, it is worth seeking after.

As Christians, we must always remain focused and aware of the Cheese -Our relationship with God.

When circumstances in our maze of life begin to change, we should respond in the most simple way in order to locate more Cheese. Neither anger, fear, distrust, accusations, nor any other emotional response, will solve the problem of locating new Cheese. Nor will any highly intellectual program, performance or plan.

A friend of mine, Scott Armstrong (@PastorSA), recently tweeted, “Date the methods. Marry the message.” How simple, yet profound is that? The sooner we figure out that it’s not the methods that sustain us, but our relationship with God (the Cheese), the less traumatic it will be to put our noses and knees to the ground in search of Him.

Quite simply, the only way to find what new thing God is doing through your changing circumstances is to search diligently for Him. It’s what Sniff and Scurry would do.

And ye shall seek me, and find me, when ye shall search for me with all your heart.” (Jeremiah 29:13)

As always, feel free to leave a comment, share to social media, email me at PAT@PATVICK.COM, and be sure to SUBSCRIBE to my mailing list.

Warm Regards, -Pat

The Blessing of Committed Sheep

As a pastor’s wife, I wrestle with so many insecurities. In my twentieth year of fulfilling this role, I often feel less qualified for the responsibility than when I first embarked on this journey nearly two decades ago.

My mind goes back to the faces, precious faces, that have come and gone during that time. Some stayed for years, others for months, and some only for days…and I loved them all. Granted, some were easier to love than others, but in the end, my heart wrenched in agony when they left. Every. Single. Time.

Each one had issues. Relationships, health, finances, emotions, addictions, heartaches, strongholds, flesh. For the most part, I (along with my husband) was right in the middle of their situations -befriending, loving, advising, encouraging, teaching, defending, protecting, interceding. Sadly, it wasn’t enough to keep most of them.

Many have come through the church doors, and sat on its pews. They studied the Word, and prayed with us. They went on youth outings, and brought food to pitch ins. They all loved God and wanted to serve Him. They wanted to be part of the Church. They wanted to do right. They wanted to be faithful. They wanted to live holy. Yet, one by one, most went back to former lifestyles, habits and circles of influence.

Willpower isn’t enough to sustain your walk with God. Will power has its roots in the flesh, and eventually, all flesh will fail God. When I look into the faces of the precious sheep who have remained, I see the difference. Those who stayed were committed. Commitment has its roots in faith, and faith is very pleasing to God.

Willpower has its roots in the flesh, and eventually, all flesh will fail God. Click To Tweet Commitment has its roots in faith, and faith is very pleasing to God. Click To Tweet

Committed sheep are faithful. Faithful sheep are consistent. Consistent sheep are hungry. Hungry sheep are filled. Filled sheep are growing. Growing sheep are maturing. Mature sheep reproduce more sheep. This is the strength of the flock, as well as the strength of each individual.

A person who is committed will stand the test of time, with all of its trials, heartaches, frustrations, and disappointments. No matter what comes their way, they will be found sitting on the pew decades later, with a praise on their lips. Why? Because they made a decision years earlier based on commitment, not emotions or circumstances. In comparison, a person who only wants to live for God based on emotion, and not commitment, is likely to turn back as soon as he is faced with any temptation or offense.

There is often an unsaid expectation when people come to the Lord. Many assume that making the decision to live for God will solve all of their problems, and fix all of their issues. Trials, temptations and heartaches come to everyone, whether they are living for God or not. People are people, both inside and outside of the Church, with all of their various personalities and quirks. Life happens to every individual, born again, or not.

Running from God and His people is not the answer in difficult times. Sheep need the Good Shepherd. Sheep need other sheep. The enemy will lure weak individuals away from the flock by telling them that they have their own personal relationship with the Shepherd, so they can serve Him anywhere by themselves. Multitudes have fallen for this lie, and been picked off one by one, at the enemy’s discretion. God’s design for His sheep is for them to abide in the flock, and to rest securely in the sheepfold.

If you are a committed sheep, I applaud you. You are a strength and encouragement to your Pastor, Pastor’s Wife and the flock. If you are a sheep serving God out of emotion, I urge you to dig deep into your innermost being, and make the decision now, before hard times come, to live for God within the parameters of the flock and sheepfold He has chosen for you. If you are a sheep wandering aimlessly on your own, I beg you, come back and abide in the flock. The enemy of your soul is lurking just out of sight. The security of the sheepfold awaits. The Shepherd is calling, and the sheep will be happy to have you home.

Warm Regards,
-Pat

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