In the pursuit of success, our striving often takes a toll on our character. That is, outward "success" often causes us to overlook inward "success." Outward success has a myriad of definitions depending on your sphere of influence. Success could be financially evaluated or maybe in accomplishments in your children's lives. Success could be based on recognition received or "goods" rendered. But God looks not to man's outward adornments; God looks at the heart. Dallas Willard writes, "Power without Christ's character gives us our modern-day Samsons and Sauls." Samson was a sexualized bully. Saul was a psychologically disturbed hothead. Both failed to deal with their inner battles; instead they were consumed with outward appearances and accolades. Ultimately, the failure to tend to their inner world brought death and judgment to themselves and others in their sphere of influence.
Tending to the soul seems to have a slower output, and thus is often neglected at great expense. But for those who wait for the harvest that comes from real inward spiritual transformation experience righteousness and peace (Hebrews 12:11). Maybe today, we pause and take a hard look at our hearts and make sure we are finding real rest, forgiveness, life, hope and love from God above. For remember, God tells us in Proverbs 4:23, "But above all else guard your heart, for from it springs waters of life."
Who does not rejoice in a good meal?
How is it that a cold drink after a long day brings refreshment?
Why are all thoughts forgotten in the pleasure of love-making?
These blessed moments have always been key in my belief in Divine goodness. Why would God make such activities so wonderful? How is that humanity's most natural functions to sustain life come to be so enjoyable?
And yet all of God's gifts can easily be distorted. C.S. Lewis writes (in "First and Second Things"), "By valuing too highly a real, but subordinate good, we have come near to losing that good itself."
If we make children, alcohol, jobs, etc. our chief good we not only miss out on higher goods (or the Highest Good), the lower good itself loses its opportunity to bring delight. We have terms for those who make secondary goods the highest good: workaholics, alcoholics, nymphomaniacs, gluttons and the like. The question then is what Supreme Good exists which serves to subordinate all lesser goods and put them into proper orbit or relationship around the Chief Good. It has to be a Chief Good that values and gives place to these secondary goods. The Chief Good would not want to deny these goods, but would want them to be used in their proper place. The Chief Good would then at the same time bring a rapture of delight in and of Itself/Himself that would improve the secondary goods and yet be sufficient in and of Itself/Himself.
May we find the One who brings sufficient peace and yet one who delights in letting us delight in lesser things as well (and yet at the same time prevents us from letting lesser goods become tyrants).
Sometimes people run across intellectual "stoppers." An intellectual stopper is an idea or pattern of thinking that does not jive with the way they understand the universe. For many, divine miracles are an intellectual stopper. If God exists and all physical properties flow from His existence, it would seem unnecessary if not a breakdown of His divine self-existence to even allow such miracles. From this conclusion, it isn't far at all to then suppose to begin to see God's existence as unnecessary altogether, for surely there are natural explanations for all phenomena. And if we don't know now, we will later (this is the postdated check of scientific naturalism..."we don't know, but surely we'll know later.")
C.S. Lewis' book Miracles goes a long way to address this faulty "intellectual stopper," as well as a myriad of others. Lewis writes, "If you have hitherto disbelieved in miracles, it is worth pausing a moment to consider whether this is not chiefly because you thought you had discovered what the story was really about?--that atoms, and time and space, and economics and politics were the main plot? And is it certain you're right? It is easy to make mistakes in such matters."
Lewis observes that the miracles of Biblical revelation are not anomalies within the space-time universe as such, but rather they are the precise moments in history on which all of God's grand story turns. The grand story begins with the Divine speaking life into darkness. The plot thickens when the Hebrews have the sea parted so they can be delivered out of Egypt. The story climaxes when the divine-Son rises from the dead, victorious over sin, death, and hell. And the story will close when all of creation (heaven, earth) is redone into the glory it was meant to have from the beginning. These miracles are not blips on the radar to distort God's established order; these miracles are the grand story itself.
Maybe the science of atoms, space, and the human world is not the grand story . . . maybe we aren't so brilliant and bright after all. Maybe humans need to quit writing their own story and read one written by Another.
Naked by David Sedaris - modern, secular writer/comedian dealing with the humor/complexities of life. Recommended by sister-in-law and boyfriend. Looking forward to talking with them about the book when completed.