Friday, May 30, 2014

What is this, thou hast done?

I have learned that clearly articulating past events is essential to my ability to repent, to forgive and to move forward

If I do not write down or speak my innocent mistakes as well as my on-purpose sins, I do not face them.  I may try to make myself believe that simply my cognizance of them is sufficient to be a true catalyst for change, but, I have learned that for me such is insufficient.  By not speaking them I can pretend that they are taken care of, or not important, or sufficiently addressed.  But in reality  I must fully face them and speak them in order to truly learn and make the necessary changes in my life and move on to a better way of living.

If I do not articulate the sins against me, I do not know them well enough to fully forgive them.  I may try to make myself believe that because I choose not to dwell on them, I have forgiven and that is enough. But I have learned that I must fully write or speak them in order to see the damage they did as well as see them for what they are and what they are not.  And it is only when I see them fully that I can begin to fully forgive those who sinned and hand that pain up to God.

I am not always ready to articulate either of those.  It takes honesty and courage and vulnerability, more, sometimes, than I have at the time.  But with time and distance, persistence, and faith in Christ's love and willingness to take me under his wing, I can arrive there as needed.

Which gives me a new perspective on God's questions to Adam and Eve, "Who told thee?",  "Hast thou...?",  and "What is this thou hast done?"

Painting by Lucas Cranach der Altere, 1472-1553

God obviously already knew what had happened and what they had done.  Why, then, would He ask?  I believe it is because He already knew something that I have learned, that articulating a past action is a crucial step towards learning and change.  And certainly both Adam and Eve were facing an imminent need to be prepared for both.  Giving them the opportunity to articulate what had happened and what they had done was a blessing.

And if God was asking the question with the intent of assisting them to be better prepared for the changes that were coming, I believe also that the words he spoke about briars and thistles and sweat and sorrow and childbearing were not words of cursing or punishment, but rather words of instruction (severely edited in the extant versions) and education, preparing them for the changes that would occur in their newly telestial world (as he said, "for thy sake", facilitating their future growth) as well.

Thursday, May 29, 2014

When that which should be my first devotion becomes subordinate to a cause I am passionate about.

In C.S. Lewis' book The Screwtape Letters, Screwtape, a senior devil explains how to corrupt Christians and frustrate their discipleship.  One letter explains how any “extreme devotion” can lead Christians away from the Lord and the practice of Christianity and Christlike compassion, forgiveness and perspective.  Lewis gives two examples, extreme patriotism or extreme pacifism, and explains how either “extreme devotion” can corrupt its adherent.
“'Let him begin by treating the Patriotism or the Pacifism as a part of his religion. Then let him, under the influence of partisan spirit, come to regard it as the most important part. Then quietly and gradually nurse him on to the stage at which the religion becomes merely part of the ‘cause,’ in which Christianity is valued chiefly because of the excellent arguments it can produce in favour of the British war effort or of pacifism. … Once you have made [one of] the World['s causes] an end, and faith a means, you have almost won your man, and it makes very little difference what kind of worldly end he is pursuing
~C. S. Lewis, The Screwtape Letters
Which Screwtape passage reminded me of this:
And when I came to you, brethren, I did not come with superiority.. of wisdom, proclaiming to you the testimony of God.  I determined not to know any thing among you, save Jesus Christ, and him crucified...that your faith should not stand in the wisdom of men, but in the power of God."  

~Paul, to the Corinthians

Which reminded me of this:

"It is plain that we are not called to teach the philosophies of men, mingled with scripture"  

~Hartmann Rector Jr., "You Shall Receive the Spirit", Ensign, January 1974
see also Lance Wickman, "Wisdom and Great Treasures of Knowledge", BYU Speeches August 17, 2004