Saturday, June 10, 2006

Reflections on the Coma -- 2

One of the problems with accepting the idleness that Dorothea Brande claims is so essential to creativity is that "long periods of rambling leisure" do not jibe very well with our achievement-oriented society. Nor even with some elements of Christianity. As Christians, we're not to be slothful, after all. We don't want to be that door turning on its hinges in the bed! Or that lazy, wimpy person who won't leave his house because "a lion may be in the street!" We need to be up early seeing to the ways of our households, doing heartily whatever our hands find to do... not sitting around staring out the window.

And yet...being busy and industrious can as easily be a product of the flesh as of the Spirit. I didn't believe in Jesus until I was 21 and for all the years before that I was an achiever. I worked hard, I was conscientious, I was responsible, I did the work. I was driven to do the work. Good performance was essential to how I saw myself as a person. Bad performance meant I was bad. A failure. No good. When I got saved, those viewpoints and motivations did not go away. In fact, I believe that achiever stuff is part of my personality to this day, part of the strengths of my flesh. My flesh feels good when I achieve and perform well. It still wants me to do that. But maybe God doesn't so much.

Because we are also told, "It is vain for you to rise up early and sit up late to eat the bread of painful labors. For the Lord gives to His beloved even in his sleep." Sometimes we are told to stand still, sit down, shut up and watch the Lord fight for us. To be still, and know that He is God, that He is good to those who wait for Him. The achiever part of me is not wild about waiting.

Nevertheless the Christian life, I believe, is about experiencing and receiving grace. Over and over God tells us what He has done for us -- everything -- and how much more He wants to do for us. Yet, too often I think we get caught up in doing things for Him, when that's not what He wants at all.

For one thing, He doesn't need us to do anything. He is perfectly and totally self-sufficient. He doesn't need us, He doesn't need the angels, He has always been totally and completely and perfectly happy. He remains happy, with us or without us. His plan will go on whether we conform to it or not.

He doesn't want us to do for Him, He wants us to know Him, and to have His mind in us, to think like He does. He wants us to believe He is who He says He is and live like we do. He wants us to allow Him to conform us so that we will be like Him and in that have the capacity to receive and enjoy all the things He wants to do for us. And some of those things include the times when He gives us the privilege of being used by Him to further His plan and purpose on Earth. But that's not the same as us doing things for Him.

My pastor puts it this way:

Achievement belongs to God; blessing belongs to the Believer...

All that to say we don't always have to be doing something, building something, seeing measurable progress. We have to be obedient, but it's a moment by moment obedience, and I think our being relaxed and patient and calm as we wait, confident that He will see done what He has called us to do, is worth a lot more to Him than our overwraught efforts to "get something worthwhile accomplished today!"

Returning now to my window...