This is a picture of my new veggie garden. I just planted lettuce, spinach, kale, and snap peas. I’m totally excited about it, which makes me sound totally old, right?! The garden plot has been occupied for the past many years by our above-ground swimming pool, but the kids barely used it last year so we retired it and I’m still trying to sell it on Craigslist. OK, back to the garden.
I think that gardening….the art & commitment to growing stuff…is a lot like our spiritual lives. We don’t know exactly why & how seeds grow into plants, but we know what to do in order to cooperate with nature so that it happens. We can just become students of what different kinds of seeds do, what they require, and put-in the hard work that’s needed to make them behave in the way they were designed to by the Designer.
Like plants, we all want to grow, to be healthy & protected, to bear fruit and be lovely & useful. In life, we want to be blessed, to be favored in our circumstances and fulfilled in our hopes & dreams. We all want to go to heaven when we die. We all want to love and be loved. We want to make others happy. We all want to internalize the lessons we learn from our mistakes, getting stronger & wiser as time goes on. We all want to make a difference in the world, so it’s better because we were here. But in my experience, not many people are willing to do what it takes to nurture these outcomes. Instinctively, these are all manifestations of the GOD STUFF in us, and it is THROUGH GOD that they ultimately find their fulfillment.
Every one of us was made in God’s image, and that image lay within us like seeds. The amount to which the God stuff grows within us, out from us into the world, and underneath us propelling us into closer relationship with our Creator beyond this world, is proportional to the amount of commitment we exert in seeking those things in the manner He has revealed to us. We don’t invent the rules, but we can learn to cooperate with them. Scripture calls this kind of lifestyle “submission”, “faithfulness”, “walking with God”, etc.
If you want a withered & weak spirit, ignore all this and do whatever you want. But the God of the Universe has reached into human history and left footprints for us to follow. If you’re open to Him, and want the best of what He created you for, it’s not necessarily easy but it’s really simple. Seek the objective truth of who God is relentlessly, read your Bible for real, pray like God is actually there, spend time with other people who are more committed to following Jesus than anything else, be generous to others with time & money, say “no” to passions & temptations that inhibit your dedication & growth in God. The growth and fruit is worth it….it’s the only thing that’s worth it that will bloom into eternity.
Tough Question 6: Why Does It Seem Like God’s Way Is Against the Way of the Real World?
Because it is.
Because our ideas of the purpose of life are most often in direct contrast to God’s.
Because God’s Kingdom is more real that the world we currently live in.
Because we were made for something else, something far more whole, but it hasn’t started yet.
Wow, this sounds like the Matrix, right?! (one of my all-time favorite flicks)
Remember that guy Copernicus, the one who said that the earth revolves around the sun, rather than the sun revolving around the earth? Before his bold proclamation in the 16th Century, it was generally understood that the earth was the center of the universe. Well, guess what, it’s not….and the Copernican Revolution changed science forever. To me, this is a perfect analogy for the intrinsic human assumption that we are the center of the universe. We may not actually “believe” that, but we sure do consistently act like it, don’t we? Our behaviors telegraph our inner values & belief systems…the real ones.
We act like our lives in this world are the only lives we have, and that after we die, we’re done.
We act like the purpose of life is happiness, and that happiness is the result of circumstances.
We act like success is measured by comparison with others.
We act like comfort, pleasure, and entertainment are the keys to the enjoyment of life.
Put these things together, and you have the perfect recipe for disappointment, pain, and suffering, because they’re lies. Even if they seem to work, it’s only for awhile. We’re creatures, created by a Creator, who alone is at the center. And when that Creator created everything, He made us as the pinnacle, the high point, the ones to whom He would make Himself known…through all the trials & tribulations His people have earned & inherited for themselves throughout history. But we’re not at the center. All this is working towards a climax at the end of what we know of as “history”….when time will converge to a singular point, and then end abruptly….and eternity will continue, according to the author’s design. And all the temporal ideas and diversions that seemed so important to us in the midst of the previous life will melt away.
There are many, many things I am troubled by and do not understand…but I do wholeheartedly believe that the meaning, purpose, pleasure, and result of this life can only be found by embracing the Creator at the center of all things…on His own terms. To me, it’s the only thing that makes sense. It’s the beginning and end of all that is objectively REAL.
“Our citizenship is in heaven…and we eagerly await a Savior from there.” (Philippians 3:20)