seems a simple enough question if taken literally, after all, you are standing on something right now (well unless you are sitting, but soon enough you will stand up again) and when you do, you will be standing on a floor, on a carpet, on a sidewalk, on grass, on a ladder, on the sand of a beach, – but you will be standing on something.
Then there’s the figurative or metaphorical implication of the question, meaning where do you stand on any particular issue or idea? This answer is not as easily ascertained by the casual onlooker and may not even be fully known by the person to whom the question is directed.
Nevertheless, we all have to ask ourselves this question, we can’t escape it or ignore it forever – where do I stand?
An old Chinese proverb says, “one foot cannot stand in two boats”. That seems pretty obvious to me, no explanation needed. But unfortunately, we have two feet! I think two feet could stand in two different boats, one in each boat, for awhile anyway, as long as the boats were close together. Maybe while the boats were docked side by side this would work, even though very uncomfortable, unstable and precarious.
But eventually the boats will again set sail for their separate destinations, leaving the one foot in each boat person in a quandary or more likely adrift in the water, trying to find a foothold, trying to find a new place to stand.
I’m thinking this kind of a person, when he does find a place to stand again, may find himself with a foot in both camps. This is our more modern version of the old Chinese boat proverb. We use this phrase to describe someone who is connected to two different groups with opposing interests. They may even belong to both groups without making a firm commitment to either one.
We call this behavior, straddling the fence, literally to have one foot on each side of a fence (not a real comfortable position to be in, depending on the height of the fence) Figuratively, this refers to the person who can’t make up their mind and appears to favor both sides of an issue, argument or situation. They simply refuse to commit and take a stand, they would rather straddle than stand.
That’s right – straddling is not standing. The former is a poor imitation of the latter. It cannot be sustained over time. Eventually the straddler topples over because his feet are not firmly planted anywhere. They may even be suspended mid-air as the straddler remains on the fence.
Why do we become two boat, two camp people? Probably because we have two feet. Why doesn’t it work for us? Probably because we have only one heart. Matthew 6:24 explains it this way, “No one can serve two masters. Either he will hate the one and love the other, or he will be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve both God and Money.” (or both God and anything else)
I have to make a choice. I can’t stand in two boats. My feet may be in two boats but my heart can only be in one. Joshua 24:14-15 makes this clear, saying, “Now fear the Lord and serve Him with all faithfulness. . . . But if serving the Lord seems undesirable to you, then choose for yourselves this day whom you will serve, whether the gods your forefathers served beyond the River, or the gods of the Amorites, in whose land you are living. But as for me and my household, we will serve the Lord.”
No fence straddling for Joshua, he knew where he stood, where he wanted to take his stand. Revelation 3:15-16 has something to say to all the fence straddling, two-boat, two-camp people struggling to find a place to stand. “I know your deeds, that you are neither cold nor hot. I wish you were either one or the other! So, because you are lukewarm – neither hot nor cold – I am about to spit you out of My mouth.”
I am the same way. I prefer things to be either cold and refreshing or hot and warming, but I have no use for anything lukewarm.
Another old proverb attributed to Confucius says, “The man who chases two rabbits, catches neither.” I assume that outcome has something to do with the fact that the rabbits run in different directions requiring a choice be made about which rabbit to pursue, but in refusing to choose, both are lost.
I need to choose and I want to choose wisely. Matthew 7:24-27 tells the story of two builders of houses. One built his house on a rock foundation and the other builder built his house on the sand. When the wind and the rain came, the house on the sand fell with a great crash, but the other house ” . . . did not fall, because it had its foundation on the rock.”
It matters where I am standing. I need to be able to tell the rock from the sand.
“Trust in the Lord forever, for the Lord, the Lord, is the Rock eternal.” (Isaiah 26:4)
“The Lord is my rock, my fortress and my deliverer; my God is my rock, in whom I take refuge.” (Psalm 18:2)
where am I standing? three favorite hymns come to mind as I answer this question.
“On Christ the solid rock I stand, all other ground is sinking sand” and “standing on the promises of Christ my King, through eternal ages let His praises ring”
finally, “Beneath the cross of Jesus I fain would take my stand . . .”
that’s where I wanna be standing . . .
sincerely, Grace Day