for the one who needs strength for the everyday
Anne blogs at Front Porch, Inspired about surrendering everyday living for sacred purposes. She and her husband, Jay, are founders of a ministry called The Bridge, focusing on missional living and advocacy for youth in vulnerable places of life. She holds an MA in Teaching Languages (TESOL and Spanish) and is a lover of words and the Word, culture and communication. Jay and Anne have five kids, a front door that can’t stay closed, and an abundance of messy, holy chaos at their neighborhood center/home in Iowa – of all places.
- 2016 May 25
The other morning as I was running, I listened to a broadcast by apologist Ravi Zacharias, in which he quotes G.K. Chesterton:
“Because children have abounding vitality, because they are in spirit fierce and free, therefore they want things repeated and unchanged. They always say, "Do it again"; and the grown-up person does it again until he is nearly dead. For grown-up people are not strong enough to exult in monotony. But perhaps God is strong enough to exult in monotony. It is possible that God says every morning, "Do it again" to the sun; and every evening, "Do it again" to the moon. It may not be automatic necessity that makes all daisies alike; it may be that God makes every daisy separately, but has never got tired of making them. It may be that He has the eternal appetite of infancy; for we have sinned and grown old, and our Father is younger than we.”
Isn't it a wonder to imagine a God who whispers to the sun morning after morning, “Do it again?"
And to my pots and pans at the start of yet another meal, “Do it again." And to my stack of papers to be graded, "Do it again." And to my child's homework needing assistance, "Do it again."
It's a wonder that God's character and purpose are not reduced or simplified by the eroding nature of everyday living. In fact, He exults in it and, I believe, even more wondrous is that He invites us to do so as well.
But Chesterton's words unsettle me, as they ring true in my heart: "...grown-up people are not strong enough to exult in the monotony." The "do it agains" grind us deep into boredom, self-focus, and close-mindedness.
Eventually, we find ourselves lamenting that "surely this simple thing - this predictable routine - no longer breathes with purpose." And wonder slips from our matured minds - minds aged on facts and reasons and tangibles. See, wonder allows us to grasp divine promises and potential in one hand and grapple with everyday realities in the other, without losing a drop of hope.
Wonder gives us the capacity to envision God's will on the dusty, regular streets of today.
But, when we cease to delight, we lose our strength for everyday living.
And, this happens. It happens when a true view of God, our source of delight-filled wonder, becomes too far-fetched for our faith. It happens when our "eternal appetite of infancy," as Chesterton put it, gets satisfied - or is it that it's starved? It happens when we can't let God be God, for fear that He may no longer make sense or tuck neatly into a 3 point Bible study or go along with our list of cliches.
For, while children delight in wonder and imaginations, we older folks begin systematically filing away the unanswerables in order to hang our faith on answers.
But, the unanswerables lend themselves to reverence, while mere answers can only prove rightness.
In the rightness, we find security and comfort zones. We organize what we know of God into categories and neat labels. Routines can exist without meaning. Religion without devotion. And, God can be studied in order to be understood rather than received in order to experience.
And then, sadly, our eternal appetite is satisfied - full of ourselves, our conclusions, and our perceptions. Or, perhaps starved, like a frail child, stunted by faith without substance.
Friends, what have we forgotten, in all our wisdom of growing older?
What childlike marveling have we buried, what questions have we maturely muted?
Therein we find wonder - divine, childlike wonder that reacquaints us with this God who does not fit nicely in our boxes of moralism, religion, politics, theology. Therein we find supernatural meaning in the everyday.
Maybe then we could again be strong enough to exult in monotony.
NEW Book Journey // June 1
"Interrupted follows the author’s messy journey through life and church and into living on mission. Snatching Jen from the grip of her consumer life, God began asking her questions like, “What is really the point of My Church? What have I really asked of you?” She was far too busy doing church than being church, even as a pastor’s wife, an author of five Christian books, and a committed believer for 26 years. She discovered she had missed the point.
Christ brought Jen and her family to a place of living on mission by asking them tough questions, leading them through Scripture, and walking together with them on the path. Interrupted invites readers to take a similar journey."
Click here to learn more about Book Journeys at Front Porch, Inspired.