Monday, December 26, 2011

Following

Now and then my wife and I take long walks together.  We tend to enjoy each other's company, but now and then my darling suddenly perceives what is, in her opinion, the most faultless route forward and without warning or consultation- Tra-la-la! she bolts, cutting diagonally across an intersection while I wait for the big orange hand to turn into the white hunchback with no hands.  She's often astonished that I'm not right on her heels as she reaches the other side, but continues on her way, marching to the beat of that different drummer (who I'd pay generously for lessons.)



I wasn't consulted, asked, or even forewarned!  Last I checked, that wedding ring was on a finger, not in my nose with a chain dangling from it!  And so usually goes my line of thinking.  Experience has taught me that in order to train a puppy not to jump up on people, you must refuse to pet it when it attempts to get attention that way.  I sometimes try to apply the same logic to my marriage, with mixed results. . . the mix usually amounting to a Molotov cocktail.  I'm not about to run after her now with my tail between my legs and make her think she can just drag me wherever she likes. . . .

Both of us stubbornly stomp forward-  in the same general direction, on opposite sides of the street.  One of us usually has custody of our border collie, Daisy- so she's understandably confused and acting erratically at the end of her leash.  Embarassed, I try to look nonchalant, hoping passers-by will assume we are total strangers. . . asking God to reroute anyone who actually knows us and could potentially drive past.  I watch the woman in my peripheral, she glances at me every 10 steps, wondering if I'll cave.  I don't dare make direct eye contact.

Sometimes we're in awkward lockstep-  the invisible band of tension between us surely cinching up shoulders of drivers who roll through our emotional gauntlet.  On occasion the split turns into a race.  I quicken my pace in an effort to make our association less apparent.  She reciprocates and accelerates.  My mind races too, as I aim to prove that I can find an even more efficient place to cross the street than she did, and make it to the front steps of our house first.  I vainly hope she will somehow regret not staying next to me, or at least sweetly suggesting an alternate route before taking one.

Lately God has turned this particular recurring circus act of ours into a parable of sorts for me.  One morning during my quiet time when I was pondering the depravity of woman He drove home a painful point with a simple question- How many times have you done that to Me?

Ouch.

When my wife leaves my side without warning to blaze her own trail without me, it hurts-  to a degree because I love her and feel a twinge of disrespect,  but it usually amounts to a flesh-wound as I grovel in wounded pride. On the other hand, when  I choose to leave God's preferred path for my life, He hurts because He loves me with a perfect, redeeming, jealous love and knows that when I duck out from under his wing I'm asking for a world of hurt.  For I know the plans I have for you,” says the Lord. “They are plans for good and not for disaster, to give you a future and a hope.  Jeremiah 29:11

How often have I taken the initiative without consulting my Lord and Savior?  I've become involved in time-wasting hobbies,  made frivolous purchases, spoken careless or hurtful words, watched or read unwholesome material, and more.  At times I've been spiritually absentminded;  at other points I've been afraid to consult with the creator of the universe, having already made up my mind and afraid to ask-  for then my rebellion will become even more blatantly stark. 

In hindsight, the idea of fearing any potential discomfort associated with what God might ask us to do (or not do) more than God Himself is what's truly scary.  Lately I've been meditating on what it might really be like to literally live by Luke 11:27-28
The man answered, “‘You must love the Lord your God with all your heart, all your soul, all your strength, and all your mind.’ And, ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’”

Right! Jesus told him. Do this and you will live!
Talk about salt and light!  If all my strength and all my mind were devoted to loving the Lord, that might crowd out quite a few things that I currently have time and energy devoted to.  I really want to live life in such intimate communion with the Holy Spirit that God's Glory, my neighbor's destiny, and my church family's well-being genuinely and completely dwarf my career ambitions, hobbies, personal curiosities, and lust for self-sufficiency. . . but I got a Kindle for Christmas. . . and downloaded Angry Birds.


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