Wednesday, September 08, 2010

Earthy Spirituality, Spiritual Earthiness

I love the Old Testament.  I love the stories, the crazy old kooks and unlikelys that God uses to work heroism and rescues...  I love how the nuggets of everything you need to know as a Christian is hidden in all the Old Covenants in "seed" form, like all the clues to solve every good mystery are there right in the opening chapters.  Once you know the end, you turn back and there they are, plain as day, and you wonder why you didn't figure it out!  I love the raw emotion of the Psalms, the proof that every situation in which we might find ourselves is worth bringing before the Lord and talking to Him about.  Not just one on one, but in public, accompanied by music and shouts, hand-raisings, claps and dancing.  The hard, the exuberant, the completely baffling, it's all supposed to come in His presence, ready for His answer, singing yourself into a humble, thankful state, or at least a wanting-to-trust one. I'm so thankful for that handbook to human emotion and prayer given to us.

Right now, though, I'm finding a new love for the "wisdom literature" --Proverbs, Ecclesiastes, Song of Solomon.  I love how often I want to say "duh" after reading quips or quotes from these books.  I love how they describe the homey relations and trappings which are now so obviously my life:  husbands, wives, children, food, sex, friends, homes, houses, money, savings, gardens, jobs, love, hope and despair.  It keeps me grounded, reminding me that I am a soul WITH a body; a citizen of Heaven living very happily here on earth.  It teaches me to whole-heartedly enjoy "the husband of my youth," glasses of good wine, sweat in the garden, and making my home beautiful, even as I long for a Home I haven't yet reached.

My circle of friends tends towards the over-spiritualization end of the spectrum.  Sometimes we wonder if we shouldn't live with the absolute minimum in order to give more away, or whether it's ok to save some of your salary for your retirement (is that trusting God?)... Whether fasting and praying isn't more holy than romancing your husband, or enjoying really good food.  (And I'm not saying we shouldn't buck our culture in those ways, to a degree, we should!  And some are called to live even more radically than others)

But amidst all that wondering and feelings of guilt, I remember these books of the Bible, and it all slides back into perspective.  Yep, your life is brief, the Spirit tells me,-- so enjoy it!  Enjoy it in a way that leaves you ready for its end.  If you aren't ready to meet the Maker, you won't enjoy life fully, anyway.

Work hard; this brings glory to God, joy to you, gives you plenty to give, and allows you to keep blessing your children long after you are dust.  Make friends, especially the kind who will tell you the truth when you don't want to hear it.  Love your wife.  Wear nice clothes, or rather, wear your clothes nicely.  Have a dignity that robes you no matter what you wear.  Make enough to give away.  Treasure the right things, like harmony and familial love, not hoarded wealth.  Don't nag your husband.  Meaning in life isn't to be found in indulgence, asceticism, scholarship, or hedonism, but in knowing your Maker...and if you know Him, you'll truly enjoy everything He's given to the fullest.

When we get "over-spiritual," we really have gotten too narrow a vision, not too Heavenly a one.  We've stopped remembering that we serve the Lord who made the stars sing for joy at their making, who made the sun "like a strong man finishing his race with joy!", that our Savior is the Lord of the Wine who promises to throw a feast like time has never seen before.  He's present with His children in homemaking as much as in Bible translation; in disciplining rebellious toddlers as in risking your health for the heathen.  We forget that it is the very word of His power that holds this "merely" physical world together, every atom, every cell.

Far from making my worship flippant or easy, though, this lends weight to every moment.  I have the calling, the joy, the duty, of seeking the Lord in every thing, in remembering and being concsious of His presence and company in every phone call made, book read, coffee drunk, dish cooked, or diaper changed.  I've got to rely on His sustaining grace and be as open to His direction here as I would be in the jungles of Thailand. This sort of living gives everything more weight.  The weight of glory.

May we never forget that every action holds a parable, if we know the Story-teller.

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