Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Look for the ancient paths...

The Lord says: "Stand at the crossroads and look; ask for the ancient paths, ask where the good way is, and walk in it, and you will find rest for your souls." - Jeremiah 6:16 (NIV)

Today the idea of serenity is on my mind. It's not surprising, considering yesterday's post about darkness. But I don't want to discuss serenity as some feel-good guaranteed consequence of a life of faith but instead as a deliberate or purposeful initiative that requires the application of spiritual truth regardless of circumstance.

I have a friend who is - correctly in my opinion - suspicious of situationally induced piety. He's an atheist, but he is consistently reactive when confronted with a religious enthusiasm that rises and falls on what he understands as natural phenomenon. If Christians cite the fact of God only when they're confronted with awesome beauty, he reasons, then what do they see in response to devastation, destruction and disaster? (forgive the alliteration, it just came out that way...).

He makes a valid point. It is too easy to fall into a one-dimensional pattern of "What a beautiful morning; God is so good." or "The sunset was awesome, isn't the Creator marvelous." and "When I look at the stars how can I do anything other than worship God...."

Let me be clear - there's nothing about any of those statements that is not valid. The problem is the way in which we tend to limit our acknowledgment of the Divine to those easy-to-fill-in-the-blank moments, while leaving God out of our consciousness when things don't look so pretty to our eyes. It's the inconsistency that marks us as shallow.

That's why I'm glad I wrote yesterday's post about darkness. Yesterday's darkness, and the eventual breaking in of peace, makes it more possible to talk about this morning's quiet time on the porch with at least a tad of credibility.

So there I was, reading my morning devotional material, drinking in good coffee, perfect temperatures, our inviting back garden and the lush golf course, when Mr. Noisy Lawnmower Man sails onto the green to shatter the stillness with his persistent noise.

What was I to do with my peace? Is it really serenity when the favorable background ceases to be favorable?

So I continued in conversation with God. "Bless the man on the lawnmower," I said. "He looks like he's really enjoying his work." then, "Please solidify this relationship we're working on so I'm not so easily disconnected from the fact of your being." and then, "I'm beginning to understand that true serenity has more to do with my choice to acknowledge your being than the impact of your creation (at least, the parts I like) on my superficial consciousness."

OK, so now we're getting somewhere. I just acknowledged how shallow my spirituality is when it depends on physical cues to kick in. This journey is a stuttering undisciplined series of epiphanies - I realize that. But they are epiphanies all the same.

Grace and Peace - DEREK

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