The Jewish lyricist Ray Evans romanticized a godless fate in 1956 with Que Sera, Sera, a song that explores life’s big questions while finding individual attempts of action useless. At the opposite end of the control spectrum is an individual making all the decisions while establishing dominion over the earth and ruling as one of God’s chosen. Some conservative Christians believing they are the chosen, want to adopt a politically targeted theology movement that answers government’s big questions while finding God useless.
The power dynamic in these is about our all or nothing activity without the involvement of the God of the universe who created all from nothing. That would mean that when you push into life, there's nothing or no one that responds back. In my world, there's always a response with God's spirit. I see it in every relationship I have. Sometimes it's a correction, sometimes it gives me great joy. It could be a ray of sunshine that hits the back of my neck or it could just be a warm response to a often repeated "Good morning" to a stranger.
The ropeOur involvement in life is like holding on to one end of a rope where the other side is tied to the unalterable laws of God’s universe. Do we pull until we wear out or drop the rope entirely? This struggle with reality will persist as long as we want to be involved in the present and with God. We have the life responsibility of at least taking up the slack and holding on. Anything less is fatalism. Any more creates battles. The tension keeps us sharp, hones our muscles, and readies us for anything that might try to change our status quo.
Pulling on this rope that is tied to the foundations of the world is not in vain, because it pulls us into a relationship with life itself. When we understand the bounds and rules of that rope, it allows us to create a dance that we can flow with and move to. The thread of the spider’s web is tied to its world’s boundaries creating a life, a lair, and a purpose. Tension suspends the almost invisible net across a sea of flying prey and when it snares an unlucky aviator, sends a signal to the hungry spider. The dance begins as the spider moves along the threads to his next meal.
The give and take of repeated attempts to pull the ropes taut and strain to go past the rope’s limits is an exercise in learning about what keeps a balance in life. With practice, the relationship becomes an effortless artistic creation of its own where like a trapeze artist, the sleek fluid movements are a joy to watch and for the performer to perform. But the skills were learned through flying too high or too low until the performer found the right altitude that connected with the fly bar at the right time.
The team of you and the ropeSomewhere in this living tug of war of making decisions is a middle ground. It might be thought of a compromise if the contest of life had a winner. But this is more of a team effort. This agreement to work together is not based on the rules that one follows but on how those rules are applied. There is no winner or loser. To the flying trapeze artists, the rules are not rules that they obey. It’s impossible to disobey the law of gravity. The performers have built into their muscles the knowledge of their motions’ limits where by moving against the constraints, they allow the perfection of the turns, catches and dismounts to exist. They have become team players with gravity.
How can the laws of the God of the universe who governs life be broken? They are laws just like gravity. You can’t disobey the laws because they can’t be broken but you can try to disobey them. If you try to disobey gravity, you will find yourself bouncing around the safety net below. You can’t negate a law. That would be making your own law. Our Lord God does not allow for another god to rule. Be a team player with the law and fly through the air with the greatest of ease. But try something funny and you’re now cursing the suddenly encountered ground (like it had anything to do with your poor judgment).
Moses was commanded to teach the laws of life to the Hebrews and they came in the form of what always to do, what to do during certain seasons, and things that needed more explicit details. The more you understood, the better you trained your mind and body to survive and prosper. It was a team performance that brought life to your body and allowed God to shine into your soul and through it.
“Now this is the commandment, the statutes and the judgments which the LORD your God has commanded me to teach you, that you might do them in the land where you are going over to possess it, so that you and your son and your grandson might fear the LORD your God, to keep all His statutes and His commandments which I command you, all the days of your life, and that your days may be prolonged. “O Israel, you should listen and be careful to do it, that it may be well with you and that you may multiply greatly, just as the LORD, the God of your fathers, has promised you, in a land flowing with milk and honey. (Deu 6:1-3)
Punishment or inevitable resultWhat is it about ourselves that when we bump our head or hurt our foot that we would rather blame the low ceiling or rock in the road? The universe isn't changing. We are moving and navigate the course that takes us into a collision path with the world. The limits that we encounter are not our fault and there is no agenda to hurt us. I’m certain that having a map of all the obstacles in our path still wouldn’t keep us from reading the map and walking straight into a wall. We have to use our common sense.
The type of common sense that we use in our spiritual lives comes from the heart. Yes, we have laws transmitted orally verbatim over centuries, but survival also depends on using our heart to navigate the places when the map becomes harder to read. It's when the light gets low, the words get dim, and the ability to walk a straight line is difficult. But holding your head up, and focusing on a light in the distance, allows us to plot that exact course without a detour.
“Hear, O Israel! The LORD is our God, the LORD is one! “You shall love the LORD your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your might. “These words, which I am commanding you today, shall be on your heart. “You shall teach them diligently to your sons and shall talk of them when you sit in your house and when you walk by the way and when you lie down and when you rise up. “You shall bind them as a sign on your hand and they shall be as frontals on your forehead. “You shall write them on the doorposts of your house and on your gates. (Deu 6:4-9)Our wrath rises after falling down or making a bad mistake because we tried to move beyond the limits of a law. We call our actions justified even though flawed, and therefore call the actions of an eternal unchangeable God one of judgement. You know that kind of driver. They angrily talk of the accident without taking responsibility for driving it. “The other car came out of nowhere and plowed into me.” It has no bearing that the driver was texting at the time. It was the judgment of God that they should suffer.
Maybe it’s because we want think we control our environment. We want to have no limitations. We want to control anything except ourselves. That’s what we tend to call freedom. It’s more like we want to be a god that makes up laws when you want. The more we try to create an ideal world in our image, the more the constraints of reality set in. When we finally admit that it was our opinion that didn’t match the reality of the world that we start to be humble. And then we start to realize that punishment is God's inability to do anything but follow his own laws about wanting to bless us.
The fear of the LORD is the beginning of wisdom,May you, Lord God of all creation, be the ruler of the world and of our lives so that we learn to prosper by following your rules. May we be humble enough to think you have anything but love for us to learn about those laws so that we don’t fall and cause ourselves pain. Help us understand and give us wisdom so that we may praise your sovereignty and Kingdom here and now and forever more.
And the knowledge of the Holy One is understanding.
For by me your days will be multiplied,
And years of life will be added to you. (Pro 9:10-11)