Sunday, July 06, 2008

My Envy

The other night I had the honour of enjoying a round of poker with some wonderful friends. It was one of the many steps in my sort of "turnaround phase" that God initiated when I finally just, well, gave up on things.

I think it's fair to say that it's been a terribly--as in, incredibly and dangerously--educational few weeks. Before I talk about why I envy a bunch of bugs, let me first explain a couple things.

First, I am rather convinced that it is God's will for me to immediately leave my current place of work. Heaven knows I could list off several dozen reasons why, but they really don't matter. My conscience tells me that it's God's will for me to place my faith in the unknown. John Wesley coined a term that I've adored since I first read it, though it might have been re-written for my benefit, as I haven't read any of his actual sermons yet. The term in question is "the internal testimony of the Holy Spirit." Yes, the stirrings of the Great Counsellor Himself.

Why do I mention this business about my work? Simply because I didn't obey, and things have been increasingly stressful ever since. I mentioned spiritual warfare in my previous post. I have no doubt, as the Scripture corroborates, that we find ourselves fighting an invisible war into which we were born and of which we often find ourselves a victim. That's all fine and dandy (pardon the facetious tone). But it has felt very much as if the Lord Himself, the Good Shepherd, has been the one frustrating my steps. I guess, once you've been exposed to God as much as I have--I'm thinking here of my Easter experience, and a few others I'm too cowardly to post about--disobedience should invite that figurative disciplinary rod. It stings, brothers and sisters, let me tell you!

So, moving along, how does one forge on when he has made himself vulnerable to both good and evil? How should I react when God and Satan both want to halt my progress until I should "get in line"? I've written before about the spiritual tug-of-war, as I tried to describe the tension of this life, but it seems as if lately I've been pulling back. As many of us know, the nature of the beast is such that resistance to God is an automatic win for the devil, and fighting with the devil is about as foolhardy as challenging the Creator. Evil is an immense force. We cannot hope to conquer it of our own strength. I've been trying. I know better. But that's just how far astray I've been. (And let me assure you I am no better for it, even though fighting against my evil impulses seems like a relatively noble endeavour. Instead of being some pseudo-hero, all I've gained is some extra footholds buried into my spirit.)

I must confess, as a result of these points and many others, that I felt a strange sort of jealousy the other night, as I arrived home from poker. It was roughly 1:00 a.m., and night had long set in. I don't know if you've ever seen headlights casting a beam across a somewhat neglected lawn, with thousands upon thousands of shadows facing the thick woods. There's a faint mist that can be seen hovering over the ground, no doubt radiant heat from an unmerciful sun. But the most captivating part of the whole scene was the hundreds of flies that bobbed near the grass. I really have no idea what they were doing. I can't imagine they were doing anything like bees do; grass doesn't need to be polinated. I don't know what they might have been gathering; I didn't see a single one of them leaving his post to return to some nest or hive somewhere. I don't even know what species I was seeing, just that they were winged and would probably be easy to crush into a lifeless powder if I'd been so inclined. But I swear to this: they knew precisely what they were doing. It just didn't seem fair.

Matthew 6:25-34
"Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or drink; or about your body, what you will wear. Is not life more important than food, and the body more important than clothes? 26Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not much more valuable than they? 27Who of you by worrying can add a single hour to his life?

28"And why do you worry about clothes? See how the lilies of the field grow. They do not labor or spin. 29Yet I tell you that not even Solomon in all his splendor was dressed like one of these. 30If that is how God clothes the grass of the field, which is here today and tomorrow is thrown into the fire, will he not much more clothe you, O you of little faith? 31So do not worry, saying, 'What shall we eat?' or 'What shall we drink?' or 'What shall we wear?' 32For the pagans run after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them. 33But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well. 34Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own.

There's something I'll never understand about faith. The nature of creation suggests that, as beings with everlasting souls, we mean more to God. A bee, though it serves a purpose, and serves it without hesitation, strikes me as a much more faithful creature than I've been lately. In books like Psalms we read some of the most beautiful naturalist poetry about how the birds themselves praise God with their singing. When the Pharisees told Christ to silence His followers as He rode into Jerusalem to be killed, Christ turned to them and said that if the mob didn't sing His praises, the stones themselves would. Supposedly, if I were truly faithful, I could accomplish absolutely anything in His name. But I can't even hold onto my own beliefs on some days, so how could I ever compel a mountain to move?

And there's the hitch, people. Who among us has complete, utter, unwavering, eternal faith? Who among us has been so disconnected from his reason that he can demand a mountain step aside, and then it does? My rudimentary understanding of hermeneutics suggests that Christ only spoke that figuratively, but if He truly was who He said, wouldn't even that be possible?

Maybe those silly little creatures don't have enough awareness to look at humans and think, "You know, we've got absolutely no inheritance, and these chumps do. What gives?" Then again, maybe if they could pause and question things, bees would take holidays down south instead of doing their freaking work.

God is slowly but surely pulling me out of my slump. I've learned a lot about myself lately, but I still haven't let go of one question that drives a wedge between me and my Saviour: Why so much effort for me?


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