Friday, June 26, 2009

We're Not in Eden Anymore, Toto!

In my heart, I am convinced that I have a special calling. I hold this false yet powerful belief that I am called to a life of leisure. After all, I am an American. I can easily justify procrastination and spending money on things I don’t need (they are on clearance, after all). I am also, currently, a Texan. This means I can do both in the comfort of air conditioning. Doesn’t get much better than that!

Oh, wait. What am I thinking? I have four kids, two of which I currently homeschool. I have one child that has some disabilities as well. Furthermore, we are not rich and cannot afford maid service nor a cook or chauffer. So, why do I feel I have some sort of right to pursue a life of ease?

Well, if I listen to the world of advertising: I am worth it! I deserve it! I have earned it! If I listen to my flesh: I’m too tired…I don’t feel like it…I’ll do it after (…I finish this other thing that is a distraction and requires a lot less energy on my part). My other lame justification is: I am a product of the 80’s. That was the “me” generation, after all.

Ok, excuses aside, life still must go on. There is laundry to wash and dinner to cook. The kids need to be taught their multiplication tables and U.S, history. So what’s a lazy girl like me to do? I think Nike summed it up quite succinctly: “Just do it.”

As much as I like to try to spiritualize my motivation for doing something, it all comes down to a series of choices each day. I must submit my will to the Holy Spirit and then choose not to “grow weary in well doing.” (Galatians 6:9).

It is amazing to me how much of a battle there is in my mind, daily, for the ability to choose. Choosing to get up early and have a quiet time, choosing to exercise, and choosing to eat right are my big, daily battles. Then there are the smaller skirmishes: time on the computer vs. mopping the kitchen…time reading a good book vs. vacuuming and dusting. Every day the choices are- basically- the same and every day they still seem tough! I am such a wimp!

There are so many that have it much harder. I know that. I know that I am SO blessed to live in America and not a third world country. I am truly grateful for the freedom to worship the Lord as my family feels convicted. The freedom to homeschool is also such a privilege. I know that I am blessed to live in this century, where I have every modern convenience I could want. I can get impatient waiting in the fast food line, whereas my ancestors had to watch their food grow. Things could be a lot worse.

Don’t misunderstand, in no way do I feel sorry for myself! I am not whining or thinking “why me?” I KNOW I have it better than most in the world and many in America. I am very conscious of my blessings and am grateful for each of them. So, why the battle? Why the constant foot dragging? I should be eager to take advantage of all of my—well—advantages, right?

I spend a lot of time contemplating this inner turmoil. (Probably contemplating it is another way I put off actually doing something about it!). I feel like a broken record with prayer requests of the “help me…” variety. One conclusion I have reached is that the struggle keeps me humble. Keeps me coming back to square one: “I know that nothing good lives in me, that is, my sin nature. For I have the desire to do what is good, but I cannot carry it out.” (Romans 7:18) and, “…apart from Me, you can do nothing.” As much as I want to “just do it”, I really cannot. Yet, to some degree, there is still a responsibility on my part that, “Whatever (I) do, (I must) work at it with all (my) heart, as working for the Lord, not for men…” That comes back to making the right choices. The Holy Spirit will not force me to do what I should, but He will provide the strength to choose to use my time wisely. I just all too easily shut out that still, small voice. Ok, sometimes I drown it out. Brings to mind another verse: “Anyone, then, who knows the good he ought to do and doesn’t do it, sins.” (James 4:17). Ouch.

Secondly, though my problems are paltry compared to someone in, say, the underground church of China, they are still the set of problems I have to face. As a friend of mine is fond of saying, I need to “put my big girl panties on” and actually face them each day (my problems, not the panties). As much as I like to write fantasy, I cannot live in a fantasy world. However, this is a fallen world; it is cursed, and will always have its share of trouble and effort involved with any endeavor. Therefore, any delusions I may have concerning living a life of ease needs to be rectified right away. Guess I can thank Adam and Eve for that.

I’m certain everyone, this side of eternity, would like to have a few choice words with those two. Can you imagine how startling it was for them-- having tasted perfection and beauty and intimate fellowship with the living God-- to suddenly be banished and met with pain and death and thorns and sweat and hang nails? What were they thinking? Yeah, like I could do any better.

In conclusion, I must come to grips with the fact that today I must face a certain amount of “stuff.” I’ll go out on a limb and guess that you may have some similar issues. Our stuff may not look just the same but it likely seems a self-perpetuating machine in your life as well. Sorry that it seems there just isn’t a nice way to wrap up this dilemma. It will always remain a dilemma as long as we inhabit flesh and blood on the earth. It is a dilemma that we have an opportunity to take hold of, and make good choices with, each day.

For now, it is a matter of Paradise Lost. But, I know the times that I set my mind to do joyfully what I am called to as a mother, wife, teacher and friend, a bit of paradise is found once again. Happiness is not just a choice, but rather, a series of choices every day.

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At the Intersection of Creation and Evolution: A Dream

The alliterating story below is based on a dream I had several years ago. Please contact me for permission to reproduce.

Darkness devours me.

I am enveloped in emptiness.

Are my eyes open or are they closed? I strain against this shroud of night and still see nothing.

What is this place?

An image illuminates in front of me. A large, leafy tree streaks past and vanishes.

It deserts me to the darkness again.

In a moment, more images appear. A rapid succession of snapshots and thoughts clamor before my eyes and mingle in my mind.

I see seedlings. Several supple shoots have emerged before me and then swiftly stream away.

“The first trees on earth were not seedlings”, my mind observes. “They were not created as small insignificant saplings.”

That thought is rapidly replaced with a vision of a man.

He’s maybe 30; he is muscular and needs to shave.

He fades away.

In his place I see an infant.

A tiny bundle of pink skin upon a soft blanket flickers briefly in my brain.

“Man was created with age,” is the next statement I hear. “Adam did not begin his life as a baby, he began as a grown man.”

The voice seems like my own.

The thoughts do not.

Reeling before me now is a blur of rivers, forests, mountains and even layers of the earth. It is like a movie rushing rapidly before my retina.

The soundtrack of this epic is proclaiming a peculiarly plain concept:

“The earth was created with age. Creation and evolution are not in total opposition. There is a reason that science finds the earth to be quite old: it was made that way.”

Thoughts continue to tumble through my mind; pictures parade before me. I listen in amazement to what seems to be puzzlingly profound and yet rather apparent all at once.

“Adam was created as an adult. Trees and plants were made fully grown.”

I suddenly feel quite certain that, if I were to chop down some of the trees that had been spoken into existence, I would find a range of rings running through their trunks.

“The earth was brought to life with age built into it… just like Adam. He did not begin life as an infant. The earth came into being with what it would need to sustain the life that was created. It was old when it was young. The world was
made with maturity; it was also produced with purpose.”

These thoughts are thrilling. Why had I not seen this before? It seems so simple. Obtusely obvious. Had others not observed this correlation? If they had, why wasn’t it being candidly conveyed?

In the span of thirty seconds I have been ravaged by a radical revelation. I feel the weight of its worth resting on me; it is tantamount to tangible.

I am neither a theologian nor am I a scientist. I don’t claim that the ethics of evolution are completely compatible with the Bible’s account of creation. But certainly Science can come concurrent to creation and affirm our faith with facts.

Of course, the Omnipotent Originator of the Universe is exceedingly elusive to what our mind could ever envision. Above what science could ever extensively elucidate.

Accordingly, creation is confounding too. Each diverse discovery deems it more marvelous to grasp. Many scientists have reluctantly relented to the theory of Intelligent Design.

That’s why, alongside those facts, we also need faith.

Lying inexplicably at the intersection of those two essential elements is an exceptional endowment: the intermittent insight of our dreams.