So, two things.
1. My dictionary is officially my best friend.
2. There are just under nine days until Christmas…and I haven’t done any of my shopping.
It felt really weird not doing anything on a Monday, as far as having any commitments is concerned. I woke up around ten this morning, listening to the lovely sounds of Zorro (my Border-Collie/Lhasa Apso mix…yeah, I too am trying to figure how that happened) and Happy (my Pomeranian). I looked out my window and saw that it had snowed over night and it was still snowing giant flakes.
I let the dogs out, brushed my teeth, washed my face, ya know, normal morning stuff, taking my time. I had to fix one of the skiers from our Christmas village set up in the dining room (our fat cat probably sat on it and broke its arm). I got dressed, had lunch, started a load of laundry, and started the dishes left over from breakfast. I even took time to go next door to talk to my Aunt Joan for a while. My dad came home from work around noon for lunch and some down time.
While he was there, I did my devotions. Because I finished the book of Daniel, I began the book of Isaiah. The first chapter is really interesting. God is talking via Isaiah about how Israel has been unfaithful despite all of the magnificent things He’s done for them, from leading them out of Egypt to making them into a great nation. It’s like, “Israel, what are you doing?” But as much as I would like to be able to sit and shake my head at Israel’s transience, I can’t help but wonder how many times I’ve acted that way in my relationship with God. This is why the relationship between God and Israel is so fantastic, or at least one reason. We, as believers, can compare our personal relationship with God to God’s personal relationship with Israel. He adored Israel, but at the same time He was absolutely disappointed in them for their actions towards Him. The people of Israel have become all about self-indulgence rather than serving others (much like society today). But even though Israel has done all of these things, has betrayed God so many times and turned away from Him and tripped over herself to fall flat on her face, God still promises to restore them. What?? After all they’ve done, after all the times He’s saved her and she’s been ungrateful? Yes, because God is forgiving, He is passionate, and He is divinely merciful.
I can’t imagine being able to forgive someone that many times. I also can’t imagine thinking about all the times God has forgiven me for things I’ve done. When I do think about this, God’s eagerness to forgive me of my sins, my own transgressions, forgiving others isn’t so difficult.
Psalm 10 was my next area of study for this morning. Passages like this seem to reflect how a lot of Christians feel about unbelievers. This chapter is all about a believer, unnamed, being frustrated that the wicked (or unbelievers) are totally mocking God and saying “There is no God” (10:4) and “God has forgotten; he has hidden his face, he will never see it (the evil deeds committed by them)” (10:11), but God appears to be doing nothing. God reminds His people of His just nature, of His constant watch over the ways of the wicked and the interaction between them and His adopted children throughout His word. The crazy thing? Unbelievers are called unbelievers for a reason; they need God just as much as anyone else. But sometimes as impatient children we forget this and grow frustrated with someone else’s relationship with God, or lack there of, rather than focusing on our own. This chapter and those like it, however, are not nullified by this observation, rather they are embraced by it. The ability of the psalmist to cry out to God with his frustrations and fears and anxieties shows how personal and sociable and powerful God is, instead of the distant and cruel deity the world tries to make Him out to be.
God reminded me about my nasty, gnarly tendency to worry. I haven’t been worrying very much as of late…okay, that’s a lie. I’ve been worrying very much about everything lately, primarily about money (I know, you’re so surprised). I didn’t think this would be such an issue for me; I honestly thought I’d never worry about money. Alas, I am human. I read chapter six of Matthew, where God tells the ones He loves not to worry or freak out about being provided for because He’s got them covered. After all, if He can take care of the small things like the sparrows and the lilies, which are of lesser value to Him than members of humanity, why would He be incapable of taking care of His most prized and precious possession, AKA, you? If God can place Earth at the perfect distance from the sun so we don’t get burnt to a crisp or frozen to death, why would He be incapable of giving you the means to survive, to live? If God can make the seasons change, cause rolling thunder to pound like drums and bright lightning to clash like cymbals, why would He not give you food to eat?
Just a thought 🙂
So I think it’s safe to say God has got everything under control, whether I worry or not. Worrying won’t change His plan for me, the way it’s executed, or how He sees me. Worrying is pretty much one of the most pointless courses of action I could possibly take. Thank You, Jesus.
Oh! Remember that Botany final I rushed through and was freaking out about? Well, apparently it didn’t hurt me too much because I got three of my term grades today. I got a B+ in Botany. I never thought I’d be so happy about a grade lower than an A. Just another example of God taking care of me regardless of my worries.
After my morning devotions, I skyped with a friend who’s attending Liberty University in Virginia. It was nice to catch up with him 🙂 Something cool happened while we were talking. As I told him about all the things God had done for me since I had been in New York City, at Pratt, I remembered just how well God had taken care of me, how blessed I had been from the moment I left my house. This further reminded me of God’s ability to take care of me.
God: 3 Hunter: 0
Now comes the hard part.
Edward gave me books to read over the break, The Abolition of Man and The Four Loves, both by C.S. Lewis. Well, I began reading Abolition thinking it was just pleasure reading, just something to get through, something that would challenge my brain but not too much. Yeah, no.
I was telling my mom how absolutely difficult it is to follow Lewis as he travels through concepts that are so far beyond my brain it’s not even funny. She told me about how, when she had been in college, she sat down with a dictionary and a highlighter, expanding her vocabulary and thus simplifying the concepts she was trying to understand.
So I grabbed my Webster’s Dictionary, my iPod, and a pencil, and I began at chapter one again. I went through and defined every term I didn’t know or of whose meaning I was unsure, and researched every referenced piece of literature, author, philosopher, theologian, and poet. As I defined the terms and took the book one page at a time, allowing myself to read a passage four, five, maybe six times, the point that C.S. Lewis was trying to make in his first lecture suddenly became clear. Once I got past my fear of being stupid, or of looking stupid because I couldn’t understand what he was saying, the experience of reading his lectures was so much more pleasant and enjoyable. I really love learning, but when I’m trying to look smart, I actually learn much less than I would if I were just trying to learn.
Moral of the story: forget about looking smart; you’ll just look stupid.
In the first chapter of The Abolition of Man, Lewis is basically discussing how values and emotions and sentiments have been placed on the opposite spectrum of rationality, how traditional values and even axioms and the innate moral code of every man and woman have been placed in the category of subjectivity. In other words, values are all opinionated, emotional, based off of preference. Emotional observations and opinions have been shown as, not necessarily unimportant, but invalid when presented in debates concerning rationalism. This idea is similar to what Nancy Pearcey talks about in Saving Leonardo. Traditional values, shared observations concerning beauty, honor, and virtue, have been placed in the realm of opinion, which means there are, according to modern-day society, no traditional values because there are no traditions. We are taught to question everything, to see emotions as subjective, to ignore every convention and to make our own.
We need convention! We need consistency! That’s why people are so transient and incapable of committing to things like marriage, career, family, and self-image, so desperate for answers and purpose.
C.S. Lewis ends this first chapter with a brilliant observation:
“In a sort of ghastly simplicity we remove the organ and demand the function. We make men without chests and expect of them virtue and enterprise. We laugh at honour and are shocked to find traitors in our midst. We castrate and bid the geldings be fruitful.” —C.S. Lewis, The Abolition of Man.
Although Lewis has a history of not only professed atheism but also Anglican faith, and he lacks the official title of theologian along with keeping a couple of questionable views, his communication to those of the secular world and his presentation of a philosophical exercise for those of the sacred is astounding. In case you couldn’t tell, I’m totally nerding-out over this 😀
Tomorrow shall be a challenge. I remembered today that I’m hosting a Christmas party at my house tomorrow and therefore have to cook and bake and all sorts of other nonsense….but I’m really excited 😀 Also, I have to get some Christmas shopping done tomorrow. I don’t know about all y’all, but I love shopping for people. I really enjoy buying people things and seeing their faces as they open it, especially when I’ve put a lot of thought into gifts and wrapping and ways to give the gift. I wonder if that’s how God thought of His gift to humanity, of His presentation of His son to the world?
“This is the greatest thing I will ever give to you, though I will always give you more. I have wrapped it in rags, but within these rags is all you’ll ever need.”
The greatest gift of all is one that never grows stale, never wears out, never stains, never breaks, never gets lost, and looks brand new every day. It’s something Santa could never wrap the right way, one present he never had the skill to deliver. It’s something that can’t be erased and can’t be produced by man. It’s something separate from the red and green colors, removed from the stress of getting the right tree, placing the mistletoe in the most convenient spot, wearing the perfect party dress, buying the perfect toy, and completely above the things that appear desirable to the inhabitants of this world. God gave the Greatest Gift when He gave Jesus to the world.
Looking for the perfect gift?
Give Jesus 🙂