Thursday, November 04, 2004
The Little Red Sheep
soon get tired of the pursuit and let you go, God just paces you. He judges
the seriousness of the situation, too; maybe He'll let you do something
stupid, if that's the only way to get your attention. He still continues to
I knew from childhood that life was supposed to be lived as a complete
human being. While the people around me were trimming themselves to force a
fit with society, I preferred to hold onto myself and just let society go
its way around me. My mother summed it up by saying that I marched to a
different drummer, and left it at that. No one asked why. Unlike God, they
just gave it up.
I let God back into my life. He started replacing more and more parts of my
old foundation with Himself. I went on my way, too busy to pay much
attention but liking the results. I was calmer, more creative, more
interested in continuing to live. Then the church pulled out and I learned
how big a piece of my new foundation was built from that. Then the people
gradually disappeared and I learned how big the problem was.
There's that old story of the Little Red Hen. She decides one day to make
bread, and goes to the other animals for help. They all say they're busy,
until the time comes to eat the bread. By then they're all ready to help.
The hen says forget it; if you guys want the good stuff, you can hang
around for the work. She ate her bread herself.
I didn't get much support as a child and the pattern continued into
adulthood. I learned to live alone. Basic idea is if I can't solve the
problem myself it doesn't need to be solved. Then God started showing me
problems I couldn't solve myself, which was an even bigger problem except
that He also said He'd help.
It was His help that led to being devastated by the church. My new
foundation included room for other people and they didn't seem to care.
Fine. I'll do it myself. But I didn't even do that; I went on to solve the
rest of the problem. Prevent the hurt.
For the first time in my life I turned my back not only on God, but on my
own principles. Emotions led to the hurt. I became as completely rational
as I could, and more so as the summer turned into autumn. Flattened affect,
the professionals call this. And God just let me go.
Once you've become one of God's sheep, once He has gone out into the
howling wilderness and pulled you from the jaws of the wolves, you are
marked. He will never let you go. He might make it look like you're
running, but He's waiting for the right moment, the moment when you
recognize that life has gone flat, that without Him, even as dangerous as
He is, life is no better than that mechanical trench-life you had before.
Rationality is a fine tool, but it is too crude to find the purpose in
life. Rationality can't explain beauty except in the most coarse terms.
What makes life interesting are the details that live between the coarse
grains, interstitial organisms contributing their nearly invisible life to
the greater structure like the water that, in surrounding the grains in a
sand sculpture, hold everything together.
Once God put HIs bricks into my foundation, well, I could forget about
living without Him. Those bricks seem to affect their neighbors, too, so
that the whole structure changes. It becomes more beautiful, more flexible,
but it is also wholly dependent now upon God's second-by-second support.
Can you imagine what this does to one with the Little Red Hen's ethos? No
longer can I do it myself.
Once I realized that the lights started coming back on. Color seeped back
into the world. LIfe without God really isn't worth living. Only He is a
strong enough guide and helper to hold me together.
My best rational guess is that this is the way we were made to live. This
is what life was like in the Garden, before the forbidden fruit. Fellowship
and walking with God, constant and intimate. Now we have to work at it and
it's easy to become distracted. It's easy to use distraction as a
replacement for God. But distraction and all of its friends--busyness,
hobbies, social whirl--is a deadly stiff structure for life. Only God
manages to hold with flexibility, so the sheep can wander but still be safe
enough to survive. Even if they're painted red.