Reminder of God
July 27, 2005An Octopus with an arm radius of four feet can squeeze itself through a hole an inch and a half in diameter. A three inch long cock roach can fit itself through a crack about a millimeter wide. An earthworm can literally tie itself into a knot. Can you do any of those things? Why not? Well, the simple answer is this: you have a spine, and none of those other creatures do. Your spine gives you a foundation. It allows you to sit upright, to stand even. Still, how often do you really choose to use that spine? Will you stand, stand firm, or will you look instead for a crack or a hole to attempt to slink into?
2 Timothy 1:6-7
And for this reason I remind you to kindle afresh the gift of God which is in you through the laying on of my hands. For God has not given us a Spirit of timidity, but of power and love and discipline.
Interesting looking at the contrast presented in this verse to see what the opposite is of timidity. It is not bravado, not brashness; those are both false fronts which one hides behind. It also is not the ability to bully, nor is it pushiness. It also is not impetuousness. The opposite of timidity is three fold: it is power, love, and discipline. Those three things, working together in harmony is what it is to see someone who is choosing to use their spine. No, it’s not what pop culture would think of as the opposite of timidity, but think on it: with those three traits active in your life, is their anything you can think of which you could not withstand? Now here’s the exciting part—Those traits are exactly what God has already given you. You just need to take them out and use them, kindle them afresh. Power, love, and discipline. Those are yours to draw upon. There is no need to be timid, to be afraid. No need for you to look for a hole to crawl into or a crack to hide in. You have a rare commodity, a rare gift—you have a spine…
July 25, 2005Ahh, Monday morning. The time to stretch, anticipate the week ahead and feel profoundly…inadequate. One of Satan’s great victories is to make people feel inadequate, not up to the task. Absurd role models are easy pawns to use in this quest. Want a “for instance”? Many women desire to look just like Barbie. However, do the math and you’ll come out with some disturbing statistics. If Barbie were to be made proportionally life size, she would be 5’9” tall, with a 39 inch bust, 23 inch waist, and 33 inch hips. This on a 110 pound frame. First off, the only way that would be possible would be for a girl to be severely anorexic and have HUGE implants. As well, it would be unlikely that her hips and her back would actually be able to support the weight distribution during normal physical activity. OK, how about a male “for instance”? GI Joe has equally unrealistic measurements. Although manufacturer’s weight claims for GI Joe are not available as they are for Barbie, here are the measurements for GI Joe: Height, 5’10”. Bicep: 27”. Chest: 55”. Waist: 29 inches. Again, unreal, and if real, unusable! Fact is, you were not made to compare yourself with others, fictitious or “real”. I use the quotation marks here for “real” for a reason as well—namely, everyone presents an image of themselves that is at least in part fiction, for all grand success stories have their own areas of weakness. You were created to be you, and you are more than adequate to that task. You are unique. God’s plans for you are uniquely suited to you. Yes, Satan tries to make us feel inadequate by convincing us to compare ourselves to fiction. Focus on what God has for you, and know that in making you, God did not make a single mistake. To accuse Him of such would indeed be a serious matter.
For Thou didst form my inward Parts; Thou didst weave me in my mothers womb. I will give thanks to Thee, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made; Wonderful are Thy works, and my soul knows it very well.
Yes, wonderful are God’s works, and you are one of His works. You are more than adequate to meet the tasks and challenges of this life. Reality, not fiction, is what you have to contend with; why compare yourself with a caricature? And in this reality of life, you are fearfully and wonderfully made. To deny that is to deny the workmanship of God. So go on, get out there—you are up to the challenge. God made sure of that. Oh, also, a reminder that my friend David shared with me—The Ark was built by amateurs, the Titanic by professionals. If God calls you to do it, He enables you to do it, so press on with confidence.
July 22, 2005Ok, here’s a really yummy recipe for breakfast that’s fast and easy, and can probably be made with leftovers you already have in your fridge or garden. Seriously, this is one of my favorite breakfasts. Preheat your oven to 375. Start by slicing thin two or three green onions. You should end up with a couple of table spoons (tbs from here on). Sauté them in about a tbs of butter for about two or three minutes. Add a half a cup of cream to the pan with the onions, and bring to a boil. Add one or two leaves of chopped fresh basil, or a liberal sprinkle of dried basil. Turn off heat. Butter the inside of two ramekins (miniature soufflé dishes). Cut into small squares about two teaspoons of ementhel or gruyere cheese. While doing this prep (which won’t take more than five minutes) put your teakettle on and boil some water. Now, assemble. Spoon two or three tbs of the cream, onion and basil sauce into each of the ramekins. Now, crack open one egg per ramekin, and pour it in as well. Spoon another two tbs of the sauce over each egg, and then top each with half the cheese. Sprinkle a dash of white pepper and some salt on each. Place the ramekins into an oven proof pan. Pour the hot water from your teakettle into the pan (NOT the ramekins) until the water is about half way up the sides of the ramekins. Put this in your heated oven for about 11 minutes. Remove. Ooh and Aah over the wonderful smell. Eat. Serves two (one ramekin per person). Ok, I said it was yummy, not that it was spa cuisine—yes, the fat content is high, but every other week or so, go ahead, indulge. Total cost per person: about 50 cents. The wonderful thing is that you’re cooking mostly with leftovers. No onions? Fine, substitute some garlic. No basil? Throw in some rosemary or thyme, or something else. The only key ingredient is the egg. Leave out the egg, and all you’ve got is a runny mess. But you know, in our lives don’t we do that a lot? No, I don’t mean leaving out eggs, I mean leaving out the key ingredient. Too often we fixate on so many things that may add some flavor to our lives, but what is flavor without substance? Christ. He is the key ingredient to our lives. He brings substance.
O taste and see that the Lord is good; How blessed is the man who takes refuge in Him!
I must confess oh so many days when I leave out the key ingredient of life. Those are days without substance, and substance is needed to hold this thing we call life together, to give our lives flavor. In life you can substitute a lot of things to bring out different flavors, but the key ingredient, well, taste and see… Hope you had a good week, and enjoy your breakfast!
July 21, 2005I don’t know who said it, but it has been stated that in life one typically gets what they expect, and seldom if ever any more. That, I think, is one of the great reasons why in Christendom so few individuals are living lives that would be characterized as “abundant”. Now don’t get me wrong here—I’m not talking about some prosperity gospel tripe. I mean on a spiritual, emotional, and interpersonal basis, living abundant life. A large part of the our problem today is that in our paring the claws of the Lion of Judah within our churches and popular reading material to attempt to make Him “tame”, we have effectively refused Him access to huge portions of our lives. Christianity is so much less threatening to us if it deals with some future, ethereal reality, than if it deals with us, our lives, our hearts, and the real obligations upon us in the here and now! And so, we look towards blessings from God as events only in some future, cloudscaped, boring looking version of “heaven”. Yet it is a profound truth that each of us has deep wounds, deep soul sickness. And like a child home with the flu, looking out the window at the other children playing, so to does our soul sickness keep us from enjoying abundantly what life has to offer now. These wounds occupy our thought processes in our commutes, our down times, and every attempt to “stuff” those wounded parts of us to the side is doomed to fail. And in keeping Christ away from our lives in the here and now, and attempting to relegate His untamable nature to some time in the future, we are preventing Him from intervening in our woundedness in the here and now.
“Therefore I speak to them in parables; because while seeing they do not see, and while hearing they do not hear, nor do they understand… For the heart of this people has become dull, and with their ears they scarcely hear, and they have closed their eyes lest they should see with their eyes, and hear with their ears, and understand with their heart and return, and I should heal them.”
Jesus came to heal: to heal our hearts. This is a promise for our lives right now! It doesn’t say “sometime in heaven”, or “way down the road when you’ve earned it”, Jesus came to heal, not in the future, but in our lives in the present. Notice though that there is a condition on this passage: first we must choose to hear, and open our eyes. Then our hearts will understand, then we will return to Him, and then we can be healed. Jesus will not force Himself upon us. He is not a spiritual rapist. Too often we pray to a fictitious, tame, “safe” Christ, and then wonder why our prayers are not answered. That is because fictional characters can’t bring real answers. Listen to true the voice of the real Christ. Open your eyes to seek Him. He will then bring understanding to you heart, and healing to your life. He promised it. Christ is the Great Physician of our souls. No physician delays treatment of a wound for some nebulous time in the future. Look to the real Christ, not the sanitary plastic version. He will bring healing to your heart, to your soul.
July 20, 2005Funny thing how perspectives can change. Glenda and I were talking today about our college days; specifically about how we viewed our relationships with our professors. Both of us back in our undergraduate years had gone into college assuming that our professors were our adversaries. Both of us realized, though in grad school that one’s professors are really you greatest ally in school. Let’s face it, no one gets and advanced degree because they enjoy torturing poor students. People get advanced degrees because they love a subject, and they love to teach. Professors do not want to torture you with a subject; they want you to fall in love with it just like they did. In realizing our professors are our greatest allies in school, not only did our relationships with our professors change, but school itself became so much more enjoyable. Similarly, many individuals believe firmly that God is in an adversarial relationship with us, that He just can’t wait to punish us, that He snickers with glee when we “get what’s coming to us”. That kind of thinking couldn’t be farther from the truth.
Therefore having been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom also we have obtained our introduction by faith into the grace in which we stand; and we exult in hope of the glory of God.
Peace with God: not on the merits of what we do or don’t do, but peace with God through faith in Christ. Peace without condition, peace that needs no supplementary validation. Have you ever stopped to realize that there is nothing so bad that you have done or even could do that would surprise God? He has you know seen it all already. And still He has chosen to love you, and to be at peace with you. And yours for the taking, yours for the choice, is the ability to exult in hope of the glory of God. Have you made that choice? Like a professor wants you to fall in love with the subject he or she teaches, God wants you to fall in love with this life He has given. Stop waiting then for the other shoe to drop; get out there and live life in abundance, and revel in the peace you have with God.
July 18, 2005In Picking up my laundry Saturday, I noticed that it had a large plastic bag over it that said in huge bold letters WE LOVE OUR CUSTOMERS! You know though, somehow I doubt the veracity of that statement; I mean, I’ve been going there for over two years, I never get a hug. Heck, they never even remember my name! This brought to mind one of the greatest misconceptions that I see these days in Christendom, namely the notion that what is important in how we live our lives is the sentiment with which we live our lives. This is a false belief. Many are quick to congratulate themselves on how “loving” they feel towards others, as if this makes them some kind of spiritual giant. Oh, it may be grand to feel deeply, but we are never rewarded for our feelings, no matter how “sensitive” or “deep” they may be. We are rewarded both in life now and by God in time to come for our actions—in other words, having the courage to take those feelings and act upon them. Here’s how Christ addressed this issue:
And behold, a certain lawyer stood up and put Him to the test, saying, “Teacher, what shall I do to inherit eternal life?” And He said to him, “what is written in the Law? How does it read to you?” And he answered and said “You shall love the Lord your God with all you heart, and with all your soul, and with all your strength, and with all your mind; and your neighbor as yourself.” …But wishing to justify himself, he said to Jesus, “And who is my neighbor? And Jesus replied and said, “A certain man was going down from Jerusalem to Jericho; and he fell among robbers, and they stripped him and beat him and went off leaving him half dead. And by chance a certain priest was going down on that road, and when he saw him, he passed by on the other side. And likewise a Levite also…But a certain Samaritan…came upon him; and when he saw him, he felt compassion, and came to him, and bandaged up his wounds, pouring oil and wine on them; and he put him on his own beast and brought him to an inn, and took care of him…Which of these three do you think proved to be a neighbor to the man who fell into the robbers hands?” And he said, “The one who showed mercy to him.” And Jesus said to him, “Go and do the same.”
What good does it do my wife for me to gush loving sentiment about her to myself, if I never bring her flowers, never hold her hand, never tell her I love her? What good does it do the homeless man I walk by downtown if I comment to myself or even to others about the injustice that would keep a man down, if I don’t go to that man and at the very least invite him to lunch with me? Yes, in each instance there is risk, yet in each there is accomplishment. For sentiment to have any meaning at all, it must be acted upon. Heck, 500 years before Christ this was recognized in Greece by Pindar in his Olympian Odes, vol. 4, where a speech of his is recorded saying “I will not steep my speech in lies; the test of any man lies in action.” In other words, sentiment without action is a lie, and we are called to be men of action.
July 15, 2005Contrasts; we can learn a lot from them. Consider these:
*When Ellen Degeneress acknowledged that she was gay, a famous TV preacher made several jokes about her being “Ellen Degenerate. Contrast—Christ, from the Gospel of John, chapter 8. “…And the scribes and Pharisees brought a woman caught in adultery, and having set her in the midst, they said to Him, ‘Teacher, this woman has been caught in adultery, in the very act. Now the Law of Moses commanded us to stone such women; what then do you say?’ And they were saying this, testing Him, in order that they might have grounds for accusing Him, but Jesus stooped down, and with His finger wrote on the ground. But when they persisted asking Him, He straightened up and said to them, ‘He who is without sin among you, let him be the first to throw a stone at her.’ …And when they heard it, they began to go out, one by one…and he was left alone, and the woman, where she had been, in the midst….Jesus said to her, ‘Woman, where are they? Did no one condemn you?’ And she said, ‘No one, Lord.’ And Jesus said, ‘Neither do I condemn you; go your way…”
*Rights. Political and property. Several Church leaders have been very vocal in insisting that Christians stand up and demand their rights, impose a “moral majority” rule over others, especially as respects the appointment of various political figures. Contrast—Christ, from Philippians Chapter 2. “Have this attitude in yourselves which was also in Christ Jesus, who although He existed in the form of God, did not regard equality with God a thing to be grasped, but emptied himself, taking the form of a bondservant, and being made in the likeness of men…He humbled Himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross.”
Two small, simple contrasts. They beg the question: What would our ministry to, our effect on, this world be, if we simply sought to emulate Christ and live as He lived? Seems to me He turned this place upside down without demanding His “rights”, without exercising judgment on others. What would the world look like? What would our lives look like?
1st Corinthians 12:27
Now you are Christ’s body, and individually members of it.
You might be the only portrayal of Christ many ever see. Will they see a Christ of love or of judgment? A Christ of humility or one who is demanding? Will you live like Christ, or presume to know how to live “better” than He did? What attracted you to Christ in the first place?
July 13, 2005Isn’t it funny how we can latch on to, even embrace, obvious deceptions in our lives! Consider this: In 1704 a man came on the scene in London billing himself as “George Psalmanazar, Prince of Formosa”. At that time in history, little was known in England about Formosa (present day Taiwan) in that it remained largely unexplored by Europeans. “Psalmanazar” wrote a book called An Historical and Geographic Description of Formosa. In this book was presented an elaborate portrayal of Formaosa, its culture, clothing, art, deviant sexual practices, religion, and even alphabet…all entirely a fictional product of the mind of Psalmanazar. A European sensation was born! The book was translated into several languages, and Psalmanazar became a hit on the European lecture circuit, spreading fanciful (and false) stories of the bizarre and cannibalistic practices of the Formosan people. He was rarely challenged, and never challenged successfully. The grand deceit was so successful in fact that the Anglican Church paid Psalmanazar to translate the Bible into his (fictitious) native language. As well, the Bishop of London granted him a professorial post in Oxford. Eventually the ruse began to crumble, as Psalmanazar’s opium addiction took its toll. Two years after his death, Psalmanazar’s confession in the form of his memoirs was published. His true identity, however, was never disclosed. Amazing how we humans can choose to let ourselves be deceived, especially when that deceit fits so well with our preconceived notions and prejudices!
See to it that no one takes you captive through philosophy and empty deception, according to the tradition of men, according to the elementary principles of the world, rather than according to Christ. For in Him all the fullness of Deity dwells in bodily form, and in Him you have been made complete, and He is the head over all rule and authority.
Yes, we often choose to be deceived—Plato even saw this, and noted “All that deceives may be said to enchant.” But deceptions also take us captive, and after the spell of their seduction is over, we find that we are in bondage. Yet in Christ is the fullness of Deity. In Christ we are complete. In Christ is Truth, and it is the Truth that will set you free. So today, what are you going to choose; deception that confirms your prejudices, or Christ, who brings you Truth, freedom, and the responsibility that comes with that? Prejudice, holding to empty deceit, these require no responsibility. Neither does prison.
July 12, 2005A Shout. When you think of a shout, what comes to mind? For me what comes to mind is something that is sudden, a surprise, something forceful, hard to ignore. A shout grabs your attention instantly, it turns your head, makes you change your focus. I’ve been surprised this past week by how many friends I have who are really enduring some tough stuff lately. If we let them, hard times, life’s difficulties, can be consuming, can develop an identity of their own which brings an inward focus, almost a trance like state in a person. Fixating on difficulties is neither pleasant nor healthy. Often, outside intervention is needed to break the cycle.
Sing praise to the Lord, you His godly ones,
And give thanks to His holy name.
For His anger is but for a moment,
His favor is for a lifetime;
Weeping may last for the night,
But a shout of joy comes in the morning.
Yes, our circumstances can be hard for awhile, but God does not waiver as our circumstances change. Circumstances may even move us to tears, but God will intervene—that’s a promise. He will bring the welcome surprise of a shout of joy. A shout that changes your focus. A shout that brings a new perspective. So, if you are one of the many folks this week who are having a tough go of things, expect, no, count on God’s intervention; know it will come. And when it comes, know that it will indeed get your attention; the joy He brings will be impossible to ignore. That’s the thing about shouts…
July 11, 2005Communication. Have you ever noticed how when you’ve had a long term friendship, or have been married for a long time, that you start to develop you own language with that individual? Glenda and I have a language all our own, and I pity the poor person who would try to make sense of it. Often times it is shorthand for multiple words. For instance, Millie, our Gordon Setter has two speeds: Really really on, or off. We used to remark on how she would exude exuberance; now when she bounds into the room we will look at her and exclaim “Exudaduberance!”. When a particular person in our family (I’m not saying who) is struck with flatulence, that individual will often state boldly “I am Fartacus!” (a take off of course on the movie, Spartacus). Then, of course there are the multitudes of pet names we have for each other, and of course for our dogs. We even take the liberty of speaking for our dogs to each other, and of course each dog has their own particular “voice”. Still, those who study cultural linguistics (who would have of course a field day in our house…as would many a psychologist) say that 80% of communication is in fact, non verbal. I believe them, especially as respects communication with one whom you love. A glance can tell so much. Every look in fact, can carry so much meaning with it, and a simple touch or caress can convey the very depth of love. When one is in a long term relationship, it really is the non verbal expressions that communicate so much. That is why I find such encouragement in this passage:
And in the same way the Spirit also helps our weakness; for we do not know how to pray as we should, but the Spirit Himself intercedes for us with groanings too deep for words; and He who searches the hearts knows that the mind of the Spirit is, because He intercedes for the saints according to the will of God.
Tough week ahead of you? Take solace, courage even, in this: You are on such intimate terms with God that He Himself in the person of the Holy Spirit intercedes for you, searching your heart and mind so that He might express your needs in a manner to deep for words. That is because you matter to God. Got to run—my dog is scratchifying at the back door…
July 8, 2005The week has ended. All of your hard work—Did anyone notice? All of us sometime or another feel as if we toil in anonymity, as if not only would our work go unnoticed, but even we ourselves might very well be unnoticed as well. Few things are more discouraging than to feel that one has been marginalized into irrelevance. Yet that is not the case with you. Think about this for a moment. Herman Melville’s classic, Moby Dick is now heralded by most critics as being the single greatest piece of American literature. However, when the novel first came into print in 1851, it bombed (beached?). Yup. Critics hated it. One reviewer credited it with being the worst novel in the history of mankind. Another suggested that the author was a madman. In the thirty six years after it’s debut, less than 3,800 copies were sold—that’s only about 100 copies a year! Melville never fully recovered from the disappointment, and never became a prolific writer. It was not until 1921 that Melville and his great work of fiction caught the public eye. Today if you want to purchase a first edition of Moby Dick from 1851, be prepared to shell out a cool $85,000. How about the top selling piece of fiction of the 1970’s, Jonathon Livingston Seagull? Author Richard Bach submitted the manuscript over ten times over a period of several years before it was given a reading—and that by a publisher who had rejected it two years earlier! No, whether one’s work is noticed has very little bearing on the quality of one’s work—Heck, Paris Hilton’s TV show about her traveling the U.S. in a trailer and trying to hold down a real job received more viewers in one week than the Metropolitan Museum of Art receives in a year! Which, I ask, contains real art? It may not seem like no one is noticing your pursuit of excellence sometimes. But pursue excellence anyway, for Someone does notice, and cares very deeply.
Beware of practicing your righteousness before men to be noticed by them; otherwise you have no reward with your Father who is in heaven…But when you give alms, do not let your left hand know what your right hand is doing that your alms may be in secret; and your Father who sees in secret will repay you…But you, when you pray, go into your inner room, and when you have shut the door, pray to you Father who is in secret, and your Father who sees in secret will repay you…But you, when you fast, anoint your head, and wash your face so that you may not be seen fasting by men, but by your Father who is in secret; and your Father who sees in secret will repay you.
Got the gist? No, maybe you have not received the recognition you should…yet. So continue to pursue excellence in all you do. Not to be noticed by those around you, but as your service of worship to God. He notices, and He rewards with rewards that come in His timing; rewards that last far beyond the accolades of men, who seem to have the “what have you done for me lately” mentality. Hey, even if you have a stadium named after you, who will remember the person behind the name on the signage? (seriously—what do you know about Mr. Wrigley of Wrigley field?) Work unto God. That’s secure employment. That is recognition.
July 7, 2005Funny how in just a short period of time working with primary source data in studying history that it has become blaringly apparent that both liberals and conservatives are equally guilty of practicing a huge amount of revisionist history. Something in us all just seems to want to twist, omit, or embellish facts to favor our own ends. I remember when I began my undergraduate study of history oh so many years ago finding out to my horror that things I had been taught from first grade through senior high school had just been patently untrue! For instance, George Washington never cut down a cherry tree and then said “I cannot tell a lie… In fact, here are some interesting facts about George Washington that are seldom ever taught: Washington was not the first president of our country. Yup, it’s true. In 1781, with the revolutionary war raging, the Continental Congress elected Mr. John Hanson, from Maryland, to the post of President of the United States. Washington was the first President to be elected by the populace through the Electoral College. As well, many teachers imply or teach outright how selfless Mr. Washington was in serving as president for the small sum of $25,000 per year. What they fail to mention in this is that adjusted for inflation and relative purchasing power, that $25 grand was the equivalent of a bit over $1 Million dollars a year in today’s funds. The money in fact went a bit to Washington’s head; he purchased real leopard skin blankets for each of his horses, and spent almost 10% of his income on whiskey and wine. Lest anyone get angry here, I’m not trying to be derisive of our former President, simply making the point that he was, like all of us, a human, having strengths and weaknesses alike. It is a tragedy when people choose to live a fantasy existence, choosing a life of stories instead of a life of truth. One of the things I love about scripture is how it tells the truth about the different heroes: yes, heroes of the faith are heroes of the faith, but they are shown in scripture with their faults as well. Knowing the truth about them, well that makes them human, approachable, even perhaps, individuals you can imitate, doesn’t it?
But you did not learn Christ in this way, if indeed you have heard Him and have been taught in Him, just as truth is in Jesus, that, in reference to your former manner of life, you lay aside the old self, which is being corrupted in accordance with the lusts of deceit, and that you be renewed in the spirit of your mind, and put on the new self, which in the likeness of God has been created in righteousness and holiness of the truth.
Truth is important. Living lives of manipulated facts is living a manipulated life—even if we do it to ourselves. And when we present untruths, embellishments, or selective edits to others, we lie, for even 99% truth mixed with 1% lie ends up equaling 100% lie, even if it may sound so very believable. And when we teach our children to honor heroes that have no flaws, we teach them in reality that true greatness is unattainable, because each of us, even our children, are well aware of at least some of our flaws, and if you can’t be flawless like the heroes, why even try? Truth. Truth is in Christ. How then can we live in lies, and say we also live in Christ? Living in the real world may seem scary at first, but consider this; Christ ministers to us in our real lives, not in our fantasy lives. When we choose to live in the real world, in real life, in truth, we avail ourselves of His ministry both in and through us. Truth. Knowing Truth will set you free.
July 6, 2005Thinking to day about Glenda. You know, as odd as it sounds, and despite the many crass jokes about marriage, you know, “the ball and chain”, etc., in all honesty I can say this: My marriage to Glenda has given me a freedom I that I never in my life experienced before. With Glenda, really for the first time in my life, I have been free to not only be myself, but to explore even who that “self” is. In our wonderful marriage relationship, I have found freedom. Love has a way of doing that doesn’t it? We just celebrated in this country “Independence Day”. Too often however, we make the mistake of thinking that “independence” is the same thing as freedom. I have known many “independent” individuals who exist in prisons of their own making. As well, I have never met a truly free person who is “independent”. We are social creatures, designed to enjoy mutual dependence upon each other, and especially to enjoy a sense of dependence on God. C. S. Lewis noted of an individual who believed himself to be “independent” in a letter written in 1953, “Poor boob—he thought his mind was his own. Never his own until he makes it Christ’s; up till then, merely a result of heredity, environment, and the state of his digestion. I became my own only when I gave myself to Another.” Ponder, then, on this:
The God who made the world and all things in it, since He is Lord of heaven and earth, does not dwell in temples made with hands; neither is He served by human hands, as though He needed anything, since He Himself gives to all life and breath and all things; and he made from one, every nation of mankind to live on all the face of the earth, having determined their appointed tiems, and the boundaries of their habitation, that they should seek God…For in Him we live and move and exist, even as some of your own poets have said, “For we also are His offspring.”
Many are those who crudely insist on their own “independence”. Do not be one of them, for in fighting to maintain an illusion of independence they end up holding themselves captive in a lie. And it is a great truth that whatever the cage that holds one captive, it not only keeps the captive in, but others out as well. The captive life, the “independent” life, that is a solitary existence. The passage above is filled with references of dependence on God: dependence for breath itself, for the creation around us, for the “sovereignty” of nations, for the very length of our days. Just as entering into a love relationship and interdependence with Glenda gave me emotional freedom I had yet to experience, so to does the realization and choice to live in dependence on God bring spiritual freedom. And the soul that in God knows it is free, that is an amazing thing to behold.
July 1, 2005How is it that we so seldom live in the moment? So very often, the vast majority of most people’s lives in fact, are spent not in the moment of when they exist, but either looking forward to an event, or the future gaining of some unknown material item which we are convinced will be the last puzzle piece to actually make us happy, or looking back to the past; either to “good old days” which did not really exist, or torturing oneself with regrets of the past. The problem is, you will not find God in either the unknown future or the less than accurate perception of the past, for God always meets you in the present, in the moment. The present, the moment, that is where life is. To live elsewhere is to live in fantasy. To seek to live elsewhere is not simply to be discontent with life as it exists, but to be discontent as well with God. About 2,000 years ago Epictetus recognized this when he wrote “He is a wise man who does not grieve for the things he has not, but rejoices for those things he has”.
1st Timothy 6:6-8
But godliness actually is a means of great gain, when accompanied by contentment. For we have brought nothing into the world, so we cannot take anything out of it either. And if we have food and covering, with these we shall be content.
Taking the time to count one’s current blessings leads one to gratitude to God. Expressing that gratitude to him, that is a beginning of fellowship with Him: fellowship in the moment, with God who meets you in your life, at this time. Communion with the God of the universe in the here and now. That is great gain. With that, one can be content.