Monday, July 04, 2005

consider the lilies...

Nancy Nordenson (Just Thinking) has begun a Sabbath Journal to which she posts weekly liturgical-calendar readings and a question / writing prompt based on one of these. This weekend (Seventh Sunday after Pentecost) is week five of this journal, and based on the reading from Matthew 11:16-19, 25-30, Nancy asks:

From the Matthew passage: To what extent are your actions a function of wanting to be known by other people? If it were true that one can be fully known only by God, how would that effect your actions? What would it look like to be content with being fully known only by God?

I find it’s difficult to tease apart what I do from underlying motives. The motivation to be known by people, to gain or maintain a certain reputation is one of the trickiest and insidious to even recognize, let alone change. Some thoughts:

1. If I truly lived my life for God’s eyes first, and His approval was my overriding concern, I would stop being so worried about optics. Jesus in the Matthew passaged certainly didn’t give any mind to how his actions looked, especially to his main critics, the religious leaders.

2. A corollary of that thought is, abandon a slavish adherence to consistency. Oswald Chambers is a great proponent of this. He says

The Christian life is stamped by "moral spontaneous originality," consequently the disciple is open to the same charge that Jesus Christ was, viz that of inconsistency. But Jesus Christ was always consistent to God, and the Christian must be consistent to the life of the Son of God in him, not consistent to hard and fast creeds. Men pour themselves into creeds, and God has to blast them out of their prejudice before they can become devoted to Jesus Christ. -- Oswald Chambers, July 2, My Utmost For His Highest
I apply the above, for example, to what I choose to post in my blog. I usually think to ask for advice from God about what to put up here (yes, I do), or if I should even post at all. And usually I get an impression of something. Lately, it’s not always been overtly spiritual.

One day, for instance, I couldn’t shake the thought of "peonies." So I wrote about peonies, and was surprised at the lively (for my blog) discussion it sparked. As a part of that, a friend who writes beautifully put up her own "Peony Post" which links us to a moving story and poem. I sensed what I’d written was a catalyst for a good thing (– a "God thing"?).

Though I sometimes agonize over the value of writing on subjects that are not in-your-face spiritual, mostly I have to admit my misgivings are fertilized by the fear of what others will think – and that they will write me off as shallow and earthly.

However, when I stand before God, I hear no condemnation. Instead He says, "Consider the lilies..."

Yes Lord, I just have. Only this time it was peonies.

The peony saga goes on. One of my favorite bloggers just emailed me a peony post she blogged a few years ago: Memorial - fragrant as always, but just a little bit spooky!


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