Friday, January 8, 2010

New Year, New You...Yeah, Right

It’s that time of year again. Time for self examination and self determination...a.k.a. New Years Resolutions. How does it come around again so quick? Surely it hasn’t been a whole year since I examined all of my flaws and resolved to at least pick one to eliminate. Of course, instead of eliminating it, it has only become more glaringly obvious. In fact, I pretty much resolved not to make any resolutions any more. I’m tired of setting myself up for failure. However, that doesn’t stop my mind from thinking about what I would resolve IF I thought I might want to maybe sorta try and do something. Perhaps. Possibly...

There is something about a new year that just  begs a reflection on the past one, at least in my mind. Not allowing myself to ponder it a little is like trying not to blink. Eventually the urge just overtakes me. Before I know it, I am wallowing in disgust and disappointment at my lack of ...anything... and feeling compelled to renew that commitment once again. Why is change so hard?

Well, I have at least come to realize that any change apart from the help of God Almighty is pretty unattainable. Even when I sort of muster some up on my own, it is about as flimsy as cheap wrapping paper. And, honestly, even when I allow the Lord to help me accomplish a little something, the right way, at some point I will inevitably take my eyes off of Him and high-five myself. My hands are still stinging from the smack when I have stumbled back to square one. When Paul wrote those words in Romans 7:18-20 concerning always doing what we should not do, instead of what we know we should do he was pretty much summing up my life of eating too many sweets and avoiding exercise. In fact, there's a picture of me, next to this verse, in the original Greek text. 

So, what’s a failure like me to do? Throw my hands up in the air, flop on the couch and grab a few cookies? Well, that doesn’t sound half bad except I know deep down that with God all things are possible. I know that He who has started a good work in me will be faithful to complete it. I know that through Christ we are more than conquerors. I know God’s word is faithful and true and I can keep coming to it’s truth and clinging to it and renewing my tired out, flabby mind and finding ever-present help in my times of trouble.

Eating unhealthy foods and avoiding exercise may seem like piddly things on a spiritual scale, but that is where my battle continually lies. Ultimately it is about my character. I have grown up choosing to only do those things that come easily for me. I was a skinny, lazy junk food junky. Now it is time to grow up and I know that as I commit, once again, to letting the Lord reign over ALL of my life, it will inevitably spill over into other parts in multifaceted ways. 

What are your struggles? What habits have you decided you can afford to live with, or that you just can’t seem to live without? I hope you will allow yourself honesty before God (and perhaps with yourself) and also the vulnerability with others (i.e. close friends, or... a blog that you know others will read and learn your deepest, darkest secrets...)  because having some accountability will go a long way toward helping you reach your goals or conquer your fears. Trying and failing keeps us humble, but trying again after failing so many times and THEN succeeding...well, I can’t wait to find out what that’s like! 

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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.