Saturday, February 13, 2010

A Very Real Problem


“Do not fear.”

How many times does the Lord say this?  In both the Old and New Testaments, He takes pains to reiterate the point to the thousandth power.  Do not be anxious.  Do not fear.

It strikes me that He wouldn’t say such a thing if it weren’t true.  While we intellectually assent, in our hearts we actually operate as if He’s giving us a platitude.

God:  “Don’t be afraid, as it will just generally make life feel worse.”

Me:  “But there is a flesh-eating monster coming at me.”

God:  “Feeling anxious about it will just make your last moments alive stressful.  Try to relax.”

I have to say, re-reading what I just wrote is making me laugh really, really hard.  What a big, fat lie we have believed about God!  Perhaps I should stop talking in the plural and just take responsibility for my own ridiculousness.  What a lie I have believed about God.

Reality is more along the lines of a Mission Impossible movie, where the hero never dies or is defeated, no matter how many bullets he takes, and the girl is always saved. 

If the Rescuer says not to fear, as the girl being rescued, the response that most accurately takes into account His undefeatable strength and His determination to save alive the one He loves, is for me to say, “Ok, I won’t be afraid.” Response number two would be to start training my eyes on Him while the flesh-eating monster charges, watching to see what adventurous plan and strength-requiring feat He will come up with to keep that monster from getting past Him to me.  Because the fact is, He will come up with a plan – one that probably seems outlandish, too risky, potentially fatal, and requiring absolutely too much trust on my part. 

Ahh, there’s the rub.  Too much trust on my part.  I recently read a book where the girl had to climb on the hero’s back and hold on while he lowered himself from a cathedral’s tower using only a thin rope.  (I began to think she must have been a very small girl, and he a very strong man to manage such a thing.  But that is the privilege of authors of fiction…being able to write, well – fiction!)  Anyway, maybe a man couldn’t really do that.  But if we were to think of God’s feats in our lives (be they physical or spiritual) in a physical picture, that would be a pretty accurate one. 

God: “Hold on to me, while I do something impossible and hair-raising.”

Me: “You mean that flesh-eating monster isn’t going to get me?  There’s only You and three feet between him and me.”

God: “Of course not.  I told you not to be afraid of him, didn’t I?”

Someone once described fear to me as a tiny little demon in the dirt raising a big cloud of dust.  I needed to stop believing what it said about how big it was. 

But let me say this.  Even if it’s a huge demon, or circumstance, or enemy…raising a very real problem…God is sure to win.  We know it because He told us not to be afraid.

Monday, February 08, 2010

Is That What I'm Thinking?

Someone is writing a biography about someone (I won't say who) and it has started me thinking...

I don't know how it is possible.  Without being God, no one - even if they were to pour over my journals and novels and blogs and facebook posts, even were they to interview all my closest friends and sisters and relatives and roommates - no one would be able to actually perceive, much less understand, the inner workings of my heart or of my ongoing conversation with God.

I know this because I am barely capable of understanding myself, myself.  And when God is completely gracious and gives a little word of enlightenment, my reaction is usually, "Oh!  Is that what I'm thinking?  Oh!  Yes, I think it is!"  (This is all very Biblical:  Jer. 17:9; I Kings 8:39.)  Added to that - the number of times I'm near a journal and have the time and umph to write said revelation down, is very few.

Then, when one IS journaling, the hand simply cannot keep up with the spirit and the mind, and ends up recording every tenth thought or so, so that there is no paper record of the split-second interactions with Jesus that brought one to Thought #10, then Thought #20.  A biographer would be left to speculate in the worst of ways, devoid of most the pertinent information.

For all these reasons, I think it prudent to request - please do not write a biography of me when I'm dead.  Thank you.  Unless you're only interested in "on such-and-such a date she went to school; on such-and-such a date she went to China" and that sort of thing.  Very boring, I warn you.

When I meet Perpetua in heaven (or on the Millennial earth, whichever one I end up in first) I am very glad that on the back of my little book about her is not the word "biography", but "historical fiction".  I did my best by her, based on as much understanding as the Lord and nature would give me through her own writings, her political/geographical/economic context, and my own observances of how God works in hearts.  But as far as writing a true biography, tracing the true movements of an individual human heart - I think only the Lord Himself is qualified to write that about any of us.  This is why we may be often surprised when we meet our famous men during the eternal years and realize how very different they are than we thought.  We might even discover that autobiographies are among the worst of the bunch for giving real insight into the person canvassed.  For what man can know his own heart?

Friday, February 05, 2010

Rules of Civility

I am going to start compiling a Rules of Civility.  (Thanks, President Washington!)

Always thank the hostess.  This is mostly for the men, who I am sure have never realized the sheer amount of labor that goes into the nice meal or dessert or event they just enjoyed.  Sometimes it involves a whole day of cleaning, a few hours of getting to the grocery store and back, another hour of cooking, an additional hour or so of decorating, a half-hour of getting herself gussied up, and a few hours last week of thinking up the plan and sending out invitations to...you!

Always carry a very heavy Swiss Army Knife.  And actually, this is mostly for the women, who never know when they may need to have a tiny pair of tweezers on hand for emergency eyebrow-plucking.  And it works for fixing cars and turning screws and cutting boxes open and all sorts of other things.  Mine even has a thin pen, and a corkscrew so small I'm not sure I'd ever be able to get the cork out anyway.

Never despise a gray hair.  It probably means the one sporting it has survived life experiences you haven't yet.

Always thank the Lord if you enjoy something.  We forget that He did it all, and that every good gift came from Him.  When a beautiful sight spreads out before you, say "thank you"!  When an artist comes up with a great melody and you  just have to sing along, say "thank you"!  I am NOT being religious.  When your husband brings you flowers every Shabbat, you say "thank you", don't you? 

Which, in turn, leads me to...

Always bring your wife flowers on Shabbat.  No explanation needed.