Wednesday, November 12, 2014
Toward Freedom XXXIII
"If you love me, do the things that I command you."
"If you love me, you'll buy a diamond ring for me."
The statements are equivalent. Choose to love, choose to give up freedom. I'd like to think it doesn't have to be this way, but I'm swimming against a very strong current. I got tired a while back and quit trying.
Of course, I couldn't discuss this with God. He is, after all, the one talking about love and commandments. There comes a time, however, when not asking the question hurts less than the damage done by imitating a rock inside a desolate garden. Waiting for the storm to pass is a survival strategy only when there's enough energy left at the end to stop being a rock. When rock becomes the default, well, years go by in there.
For what? Why is survival so important? Don't go there, as a cliff is just beyond.
I'm fascinated by God's techniques. It's best to be an invisible rock, because something about a rock invites the hammer. "Break you out of there. It'll be good for you." Look at the history of revolutions in our world and you'll see just how effective that tactic is. Force is met with more force until something breaks, and as soon as the broken one heals enough that side takes a hammer to the others. God's way doesn't involve a hammer; his is more the way of flowing water, sunlight and invitation. Maybe the invitation will be ignored. He doesn't give up. All it might take is a little more time.
I could have saved a lot of time by asking God first. That means I'd have had to listen, and with ears tuned to the sound of a coming hammer I can't hear love. God doesn't quit. My resistance makes no change in his approach. He continues his movement and planning as if the outcome is certain. "There is no shadow of turning with you." But... I wasn't able to hear back then.
Life continues. Cells divide and make energy. Blood flows, breath blows, fingernails grow, time passes. What happens in these times when it seems nothing is happening? Something changes. Truth becomes more visible, or audible, or sensible, maybe all three and more.
I was in a half-dream, half-awake state and got to half-thinking about Jesus. "We love because he first loved us." And yet, he is Himself. No mistaking him for anyone else. Look at his encounters with people and there is no sign of him being anyone else and quite comfortable in being that. Enjoying, even.
"If you love me, do the things that I command you." There is no lack of people willing to tell me what God commands me to do. What does God, Himself, say to me? "Don't quit. Please don't quit." More recently, "Please don't go back into that abyss." It's a short list, and these are things that I can do. With difficulty, at times, but still possible.
Note how these are phrased: it's "don't do something." Rescue starts with stopping the destructive act: talked down from the bridge, letting go of the gun, stop walking toward the train. God knows that I react violently to any attempt at making things better, which is why what might be a garden looks more like a desert. Determined to be myself, I have a definition to maintain. Self-concept is everything. Lose that, I lose myself. I am This Way. Anything else is Not Me. Coming from a lifetime of being under assault it's not a surprising attitude.
God's invitation continues, however, unchanged from the very first day. "I have come to set the captives free," and he is willing to teach them everything starting from first principles. No matter how long it takes. Eventually, even I with my determined self-determination, begin to see beyond my own assumptions and into what God offers.
Tyranny is easy. Victim or victimizer, the roles are defined. What is my role with this God who offers much and works a very long plan to lead things to his conclusion? Do I just bob along in the river, or am I allowed to swim? Row? Water-ski? Skip? Tyranny is the habit I face. Its grip is surprisingly durable.