Quite a number of years ago, in my early forties and with four teenage children, I decided to go ‘back to school’ and retrain as a hairdresser. That part of the story is for another time, and another blog post, but what I want to share with you today, is something that has been running through my thoughts this week.
In cutting hair, there’s something very important that the stylist must remember to follow at all times, or the haircut will be a disaster. It’s this: from that first cut, follow your ‘guideline’.
What’s a guideline? You’re probably asking. The best way I can explain it is this; The Guideline is the first cut in a baseline length; once the length has been discussed and agreed between the stylist and client, this first snip of the scissors becomes the guideline for the shape, quality and even the length of the haircut. When the stylist makes the first cut, she lets that piece fall, but keeps back a tiny piece of that section as she lifts the next in her fingers – that little piece is the guideline. It’s that head of hair’s sort of ‘internal map’ to follow.
The guideline is the most important part of the haircut. It determines the finished length of the cut and the overall shape and balance. Without a guideline you can not work methodically through the haircut or maintain accuracy. Even the most experienced stylists will follow a guideline. If a stylist loses her guideline, she is taught to STOP, take a moment, focus and find the guideline again.
Where am I going with this? No I haven’t changed my blog to ‘hairdressers daily’; it occurred to me the other day that there’s a parallel between this hairdressing principle and our Christian life.
We have clear guidelines for living, that if we follow them, will determine the ‘shape’, quality and even the length of our lives. These guidelines are laid out in the Word of God.
Here are just a few examples, where the guideline is clearly laid out and the end result promised – in other words ‘if you do this, this is what you can expect’.
Guideline: ‘My child, never forget the things I have taught you. Store my commands in your heart.
Result: If you do this, you will live many years, and your life will be satisfying.
Guideline: Never let loyalty and kindness leave you! Tie them around your neck as a reminder. Write them deep within your heart.’
Result: ‘Then you will find favor with both God and people, and you will earn a good reputation.’
Guideline: ‘Trust in the Lord with all your heart; do not depend on your own understanding. Seek his will in all you do,
Result: and he will show you which path to take.
Guideline ‘Don’t be impressed with your own wisdom. Instead, fear the Lord and turn away from evil.
Result: Then you will have healing for your body and strength for your bones.
Guideline: ‘Honour the Lord with your wealth and with the best part of everything you produce.’
Result: ‘Then he will fill your barns with grain, and your vats will overflow with good wine.’
Guideline: ‘My child, don’t reject the Lord’s discipline, and don’t be upset when he corrects you. For the Lord corrects those he loves, just as a father corrects a child in whom he delights.
God provides for us a kind of internal map for living. I love these verses in Proverbs 7:1-3 “My son, keep my words and treasure up my commandments with you; keep my commandments and live; keep my teaching as the apple of your eye; bind them on your fingers; write them on the tablet of your heart”.
God’s Word isn’t a set of boring rules and regulations; it’s a life-giving map to live by!
Like that stylist who loses her guideline in the middle of the haircut, if you feel you’ve lost your way today, STOP. Refocus, ask God to show you His guideline, through His Word. He will – it’s His promise and He always keeps His promises.