Posts Tagged 'God'

Me vs the Space-Time Continuum

Today I fertilized the plants. It was only supposed to take a minute…

I woke up at 6:15am. My hubby had gone off to run earlier, and I was mentally ready for him to return, shower and take a short nap on the couch before leaving for work. That meant I would not be able to do my normal sequence of routine, so I planned to get up, make the bed, maybe water, then go into the office and get to work on Sky. Yay!

Recalling that it had rained last night, I was pleased at the notion that I wouldn’t have to water the grass and could get started on writing that much earlier. I’d just take a minute to fertilize the plants front and back. It’s better to fertilize early when it’s cool, after all, and it’s only 8 plants in pots. No big deal.

Except, I have this problem with the space/time continuum. Despite my many years on the planet, during which the space/time continuum has never changed, I nevertheless assume this time that it will. It’s not a conscious assumption, mind you. It’s just that I continually think as if a minute can be both a real minute, sixty seconds, and yet elastic enough to accommodate tasks that easily take half an hour or even an hour, and still remain a minute.

Filling the gallon jug, measuring the fertilizer, going from the kitchen to the back yard to dispense the fertilizer, returning to the kitchen to repeat the process – several times – how could I ever think it would “only take a minute?”

Denial. It must be denial. I want to get started right away on writing. I want to get the fertilizing done early, so I guess I just compress the two in my mind as if in so doing I can make it so. But I can’t and it takes “waaay longer” than I expected and then I’m disappointed…

When really, all that’s happened is that once again, I’ve discovered I’m not God. (And a good thing or the Universe would have long ago spiraled out of control.)

Unlike God, I am bound to the space/time continuum and no amount of hoping or assuming or thinking is going to change that.

But I have to wonder… does anyone else do this? Or am I the only one?

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This post is in response to a WordPress Writing Challenge on the topic From Mundane to Meaningful. To learn more about the challenge and see some other entries, click here.

Can You Bind the Pleiades?

Then the Lord Answered Job out of the whirlwind and said,
Who is this that darkens counsel
By words without knowledge.
Now gird up your loins like a man,
And I will ask you, and you instruct Me!

Where were you when I laid the foundation of the earth!
Tell Me if you have understanding,
Who set its measurements, since you know?

 

Or who streteched the line on it?
On what were its bases sunk?
Or who laid its cornerstone,
When all the morning stars sang together,
And all the sons of God shouted for joy?

Can you bind the chains of the Pleiades,
Or loose the cords of Orion?

Can you lead forth a constellation in its season.
And guide the Bear with her satellites?


Do you know the ordinances of the heavens or fix their rule over
the earth?

Job 38:1-7; 31-33

ΩΩΩ

Data for Nebula photo provided by NASA and
the National Space Scienc Data Center

Spiritual Growth is a Neverending Process

In the natural realm we are born, we grow up, we reach physical maturity, some time around age 14 – 20, then we spend time perfecting skills and abilities that go with physical maturity and finally we begin to decline.  In the mental or character realm, maybe we continue to understand new things and even change our behavior accordingly for many years, but inevitably those aspects also begin to decline.

In the natural realm then, growth is finite.  It begins, continues for a time and then, reaching maturity, stops.

Our school systems and job training programs follow the same pattern. The child enters, learns the subject matter — say reading, writing, basic math, a bit of history and science — and then he “graduates”.  He has now been declared proficient and a master at the subjects he began to learn years ago. And in those basic realms there is really no more left to learn, the skills learned in childhood and youth serving many people well for the rest of their lives.

Of course institutions of alleged higher learning exist for the purpose of enabling people to continue to learn about a subject beyond the basics, (though sadly many of those institutions no longer offer courses of study that are truly profitable to their students, though that’s a subject for another day)  but I wonder how many people, even college graduates eventually come to a point where they believe they have “learned enough” and now  know everything they need to know about a particular subject.

I’d guess a lot of them. Rush Limbaugh likes to say that in general people think that history began the day of their birth, and as a result they know little of anything that happened before their arrival.

George Santayana  said,  “Those who can not remember the past are condemned to repeat it.”   While Friedrich Hegel observed, “The only thing we learn from history that we learn nothing from history!”

I’m not convinced that knowing more history would solve our problems, because I believe our problems arise from the fact that we are fallen people living in a fallen world, that is administered by fallen creatures who have no ability to administer anything very well… but that’s another matter, too.

But at least some of our problems as a nation certainly arise out of too many people just not knowing enough about the right kinds of things to be able to make the kinds of decisions they need to make. To have the discernment they need to have.

And the most important lack of knowledge, I think, is spiritual.

How many Christians, I wonder, reach a point where they think they’ve learned all they need to know about God and the spiritual life? Or, all they need to know about the Bible?

People who’ve believed in Christ, who know they are eternally secure in their salvation, know some basic rules for correct “Christian” or “moral” behavior, and some basic promises for times of trial — and with that think they’re set.

They have only to go about living their Christian lives in accordance with those parameters. This is who I am, this is who God is, this is what the Christian life is about and what I am to do, and I have it down pat. If X happens, I do Y. If I want A to happen, I do B. The spiritual formula: if I just make the right applications everything will go well.

On some level I  used to think like this. God is disabusing me of this notion. The more I learn it seems, the more I realize I don’t know. The more I read the Bible, the more I see things I never saw before — the same passages, only now there is a new light, a different angle, sometimes subtle, sometimes profound and shocking. How could I have not seen that before?! It’s right there.

I’m finding that going back over the same ground, whether in Bible class or just in my thinking, brings increasing light. I may grapple with the same issues time and again. Wrestle with a concept, come to a conclusion, a new way of thinking or doing, go off to practice it and then, some time later, be back at it again. Well, what I’d thought was sorta right, but not entirely. And now I have to rethink it. Or maybe God has to retell me, in a slightly different way, because I’ve come maybe a baby step along the path toward true understanding, and now it’s time to take another baby step.

It’s funny to think you can just study it and get it down like you might history or biology. This is God we’re talking about. Creator of the Universe. The one who has no beginning or end. The one who holds all things together in His mind, whose thoughts are not like our thoughts and ways are not like our ways.

We take that so blithely. Oh yeah. God’s thoughts aren’t like ours. His ways aren’t like ours… and then we just go on, as if it didn’t matter. As if we can still understand Him as easily as we understand our friends or the people next door (which should be a clue since I’d guess in most cases we probably don’t. Shoot, we don’t really even understand ourselves, let alone other people).

We — or, maybe I should just say “I” here — treat Him as if He’s just a big, very smart, very old, very clever man. When He’s not! 

People will pour out their lives studying some element of His creation ( finger work on His part) and yet scrimp on studying the Word He’s given us to tell us who He is. And we think we can just read it through once or twice and get it. Would we think we could come to a practical understanding of neuroscience by reading a textbook now and then? Select the most technical,learning-intensive, difficult-to-comprehend subject you can think of and then realize it can’t even come close to God.

No. I’ve come to believe it’s not only a lifelong journey toward understanding God and how we’re to serve Him, a very slow, crawling, micro-incremental, struggle to grasp and hold kind of journey, but one worthy of devoting our entire lives to. One that we will never reach the end of in this life and, I’m pretty sure, not even in eternity.

Aggressive Trust

Today I was back to being distracted and doing the avoidance thing in the morning. In an attempt to get myself going, I pulled a couple of old journals off my shelf, wondering if the earlier me might have advice for the later me. Did I really feel this negatively, and flat and blank about the other books I’ve written when I’ve been at this stage with them?

Answer:  yes.

Anyway, I picked one that began in February 2005 during the time I was working on a second draft of Shadow Over Kiriath.  I opened the book and on the very first page — the frontispiece  — I’d written the following:

“The Lord has told me, again and again to trust Him aggressively  and to wait for His solutions with CONFIDENT  EXPECTATION.

To trust Him to guide and to trust Him to come through — that I won’t be ashamed, nor will my enemies exult over me or ridicule me…

…the blankness and the deadness are good things — they call to mind the lesson of stepping back and letting

God reveal things in His PERFECT timing

WAIT

and let God Gather together the waters so that the dry land appears.

***

Sit back, relax, give God time to work in your life. Don’t enter into struggle, condemnation and bondage trying to change yourself. Most Believers have a hard time realizing/accepting that God does not hurry in His development of the Christian life.”

Nor does He necessarily hurry in His development of a book. In fact, as I considered today, I realized that releasing it slowly, releasing things at a very rudimentary, incomplete level, when the story doesn’t seem very good, is definitely a lesson in trusting Him. If it came out great the first time through, there’d be no need to trust and I would unquestionably develop a fat head. Instead, if it comes out ragged, full of holes, wandering around, limpid characters having lengthy discussions about inconsequential matters — all words I need to tell myself the story, even if they aren’t words that will survive to the final draft — it forces me to trust Him. It forces me to have patience, not seeing, and to trust that He will indeed make all things, even this, beautiful in its time.

And having learned that, somehow, in fits and starts, I worked my way through the rest of chapter 1 to page 21.

Rush Identifies Mother Nature

A week or so ago Rush Limbaugh was commenting on the prevailing story of the day, which was that no one seems to be able to find the oil that has spewed into the Gulf. Ed Overton, a professor of environmental studies at Louisiana State University, had said that, “Mother Nature is doing what she’s supposed to do and we’re losing most of [the oil] to microbial degradation in the ocean.”

Regarding which Rush had this to say:

“The earth, Mother Nature — and to me, by the way, when I say Mother Nature’s taken care of it, who’s Mother Nature? Mother Nature — listen to me on the left, listen to me on the left, Mother Nature, you know who it is? God. You spell it G-o-d. Mother Nature is God. Mother Nature is not a tree trunk. Mother Nature is not some forest somewhere in the Amazon. Mother Nature is the God of the Bible, the God of creation, and the God of creation taking care of all this despite our folly ’cause God loves us.”

Pretty cool.

Tornado Destructive Beauty

Okay, I admit, I’m weird. It’s probably a good thing I don’t live in the midwest because I’d be one of those tornado chasers. I just find them fascinating. I feel the same way about thunderstorms. I think what I like about them both, in addition to the beauty and hypnotic grace in the images, is the fact that they show God’s power. I can’t speak for personally watching a tornado, but I’ve watched scores of thunderstorms and even been out in them, lightning cracking around on every side (that was not by choice… the worst part is how hard the rain pelts you — so hard you can’t open your eyes).  They are such awesome demonstrations of the power of God. Because His power goes way beyond a wimpy thunderstorm or tornado. That’s the cool part… here’s this manifestation of weather that completely humbles us. We can do nothing about it, nothing to stop it, nothing to control it… just get out of the way and pray.

And controlling a tornado is less than fingerwork for the one who actually holds all the universe together, keeps the sun in order, the planets, the galaxies, etc. I love considering those aspects of God. Because when you do, how can you worry about anything in life? He’s got it ALL under His control, everything chosen and incorporated into a plan that is not only holy and sovereign but wise and loving…

Anyway, all that to introduce this cool video of a tornado I just found:

And if you want to see some really still pictures of storms (accompanying an article on some British storm chasers in our own Tornado Alley) click here.

The Volcano

Eyjafjallajokull. Even when they provide the pronunciation guide, I can’t pronounce it. (ay-yah-FYAH’-plah-yer-kuh-duhl). It’s a Black Swan!  Who could have predicted that a volcano in Iceland combined with wind and weather patterns would wreak such havoc, shutting down the EU for days and causing “the biggest airspace shutdown since World War II?”

Because it’s below a glacier, its magma mixes with the melted ice and cools more rapidly than would normally happen causing explosions that eject plumes of volcanic grit up to 30,000 feet into the sky. Unlike the smoke of a fire, which is mostly made of wimpy bits of carbon, this thing is churning out tiny bits of jagged volcanic rock (and if you’ve ever walked up a cinder cone, you know what I mean by “jagged”) and volcanic glass. Where smoke might clog an airplane engine, volcanic “ash” will tear it to pieces.  Thus airspace of most of Europe’s been closed down.

All sorts of people are stranded, many suffering the horrible tragedy of being unable to get to weddings, graduations, school, meetings and funerals. Even Prime Ministers. The airline industry is said to be losing at least $200 million a day. Warnings are going out that soon people may not be able to buy fresh fruits and vegetables, and many other things taken for granted that must be flown in from all over the world. The event has shown us how interconnected we are.

It’s also shown us how with all our interconnectedness and technology and sophistication how… weak and wimpy and out of control we really are. That’s the part I love about it. As one news story put it, “The eruption was a single act of nature, but it stopped the world in countless ways.”

Not nature, of course, God.

Below is a radar picture of the craters taken by the ELTA radar from an Icelandic Coast Guard airplane. People have compared it to Edvard Munch’s painting “The Scream,” a work whose inspiration is thought to come from the blood-red skies caused by the 1883 eruption of Krakatoa.

Bizarre.

And of course the thing is spewing smoke, ash, glass, rock, CO2 and I don’t know what all else, except that I”m pretty sure it’s pollution on a scale that dwarfs anything man has yet produced.

The poor Green Police. How in the world are they going to deal with the likes of this?


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