Creation is God’s Attack Dog ~ BitterSweetLife

Monday, August 21, 2006

Creation is God’s Attack Dog

Physicality Plays a Sinister Role in My Journey to Faith

Junk yard dog Posted by Picasa

In the gospel of Mark, the disciples and Jesus sail out on the Sea of Galilee, and before you know it, the ocean takes on a life of its own and makes the disciples look like bratty kids. Apparently a little squall with sixteen-foot waves came up, and Jesus’ entourage was suddenly shaking him awake, yelling, “Teacher, don’t you care that we’re about to die?” (When the disciples told their wives the story later, the waves became twenty-four-footers with sharks swimming in them
but the women didn't buy it.)

As I thought about this story yesterday, I considered disbelievingly the way that weather reveals our lack of faith again and again. Humidity undermines my self-control like—well, like a cloud of stagnant air so thick you can hardly breath it. Humidity accompanied by heat makes me seriously question the value of patience as a stratagem. And if you add mud in the eye or sneak attacks by mosquitoes, my faith threatens to go on strike.

The physical world has magical properties of spiritual revelation: I stub my toe and my heart stumbles out of its shack, cussing. I lose my breakfast and my spiritual cool. Thus, faith in myself becomes a laughable proposition to a guy who can hardly control his rage against inanimate objects.

I think the physical world has a task to perform in relation to our journey toward faith in Christ. Many people, including myself, have pointed out the attractional properties of creation. This is when someone sees a mountain, or a fiddler crab, and realize there must be a God. But creation has other duties as well—like making sweat run down my face like lava from Mount Vesuvius, spitting mud in my eye, and stubbing my toes in various creative ways.

I believe, and I say it with confidence, that physical creation is not only attractional but tyrannical—creation is God’s attack dog. C.S. Lewis noted that, "Pain is God's megaphone to rouse a deaf world," and I think I would add that, "Weather is God's pit bull to terrify a smug world." “Sic em,” says God, “until they stop behaving like pompous jerks, and realize their hearts are too small and brittle to support a hungry gnat, let alone a healthy soul.”

Thus Jesus sleeps on the Sea of Galilee while we fume and shake, and when he wakes, he looks at the waves and says, “What? No faith?” And we wince. The waves do their work, or the humidity does it, and we realize that no one takes up this walk of faith in Christ at their own volition. It takes a fire or a storm.

Elizabeth Barrett Browning said “Earth’s crammed with heaven, and every common bush afire with God.” I think this fire is a slow roast that chases us, sweating and reluctant, out of ourselves and into Jesus. As on the Sea of Galilee, the weather that exposes self-faith as stupid and dry reveals Christ-faith as sweet and profoundly transformative. It cannot be denied, though, that for the guy hoping for a carefree day on the lake, the route to faith is always embarrassing.



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4 comments:

NorthernLight said...

Hey... wnjoyed your post about weather... I live in the arctic and a few times, all of which start sunny, when I have travelled out on the land by skidoo, I have been faced with blinding snowstorms that test your wisdom and faith, almost as much as the blood boiling heat of summmer in the south!

Take it easy! G.

Ched said...

I resonate with what you say here. I have atrocious allergies, and every time the weather changes, so does my pain level. Interesting link between the physical and the spiritual realm and how they inform each other.

Dustin said...

Is there something to be said for the fallen nature of the world and the pain it causes? Rather than simply being God's instrument, is it not also possible that the "wrath" of nature and the problems it causes are Satan's instruments to cause such sinful reactions?

Maybe I'm not looking deep enough.

Ariel said...

" I live in the arctic and a few times, all of which start sunny, when I have travelled out on the land by skidoo, I have been faced with blinding snowstorms..."

Thanks for the note, Northern. Given that I'm used to sweating like cheese on a dashboard, I'm envying your northern exposure.

"Interesting link between the physical and the spiritual realm and how they inform each other."

Weird how God does that, Ched. Or maybe not so weird, seeing as Christ's incarnation forever demonstrated the indelible link between spirit and material...it's remarkable how we humans tend to separate the two, and how God steadfastly continues to hold them together.

"Is there something to be said for the fallen nature of the world and the pain it causes? Rather than simply being God's instrument, is it not also possible that the "wrath" of nature and the problems it causes are Satan's instruments to cause such sinful reactions?"

There's definitely much to be said for the Fall, Dustin, especially since it's so central in our experience. We can't escape its reality or minimize its effects.

I think it's important to remember that God has Satan on a leash, though, and any beat-down privileges the devil may enjoy depend on Christ's temporary tolerance of his evil, as in the story of Job. The Devil would ultimately like to take credit for all kinds of chaos and pain, I would think, but he can't even do that. God has him dangling on a string because Christ is sovereign. The Devil boasts overmuch.

 

Culture. Photos. Life's nagging questions. - BitterSweetLife