Sunday, March 1, 2009

We Do Not Live on Bread Alone...

...but also on fruit, vegetables, proteins, vitamins, minerals...and of course, on every word that comes from the mouth of God...a holistic, balanced physical, mental, and spiritual diet works wonders.

Today's Word:
Genesis 9:8-15 (God enters a covenant with Noah and his descendants, showing a rainbow as a sign to "never again allow the waters to become a flood to destroy all mortal beings" --emphasis mine; obviously, localized such events can and still do take lives)
Psalm 25:4-5, 6-7, 8-9 (Guide me in your truth and teach me, for you are God my savior)
1 Peter 3:-18-22 (Peter symbolizes Noah's ark experience as the prefiguring of baptism)
Mark 1:12-15 (also Matthew 4:1-11 or Luke 4:1-13; The Temptations of Christ)

Hello darkness, my old friend
I've come to talk with you again
Because a vision softly creeping
Left its seeds while I was sleeping
And the vision that was planted in my brain
Still remains
Within the sound of silence

In restless dreams I walked alone
Narrow streets of cobblestone
'Neath the halo of a street lamp
I turned my collar to the cold and damp
When my eyes were stabbed by the flash of a neon light
That split the night
And touched the sound of silence

And in the naked light I saw
Ten thousand people, maybe more
People talking without speaking
People hearing without listening
People writing songs that voices never share
And no one dares
Disturb the sound of silence

'Fools!' said I, 'you do not know
Silence like a cancer grows
Hear my words that I might teach you
Take my arms that I might reach you'
But my words like silent raindrops fell
And echoed in the wells of silence

And the people bowed and prayed
To the neon god they made
And the sign flashed out its warning
In the words that it was forming
And the sign said the words of the prophets are written on the subway walls
And tenement halls
And whispered in the sounds of silence

--The Sound of Silence
Paul Simon (recorded by Simon & Garfunkel)

Paul Simon's song seems to me a perfect fit when it comes to the subject of temptation.
Hello, darkness, my old friend...
an invitation to an examination of my conscience. For it's not just those nasty things we do, but also that which we fail to do that can get us called on the proverbial carpet.

For this, we see Jesus resisting the urge to reveal himself in grandiose fashion. He won't turn stones into bread; or twist the writings of sacred scripture to fit some other agenda; or throw himself off a cliff because legions of angels would come to his rescue.

We are also given today the text from Psalm 25:5: Guide me in your truth and teach me..., a prayer that is often highly underestimated; for God's truth is often much different than reality. The previous verse has the psalmist (King David) asking God to "point out the road for me to follow." Poor me, I like reading maps. I think GPS devices are amazing. I don't actually own one, but I wouldn't refuse it if offered one or buy one if I felt the price was right. Now if God actually guided me like a GPS, I'd have it made, right?

But no, that's not how we're made. We are capable of thought and are required to do so, sometimes even before we're ready. The decisions we make often affect our future for years to come, sometimes the rest of our lives. One grand temptation is to let others do our thinking for us. I know this well; I can easily convict myself of this in a few cases. The other side of this is thinking shortsightedly; that is, without regard to whatever your "big picture" is. (Everyone's is slightly different.) I used to get tripped up on that constantly. I still have bouts with it.

I have lost count of the number of times I've heard somebody say words to the effect, "surrender your will to God's," or "let go and let God." All well and good; but when God wants you to think, how is it you can possibly surrender and yet remain a responsible person on this earth? Isn't the knowledge that God loves me as I am enough? If I am to reflect "salt and light" to others, how does it affect me in a world where there's far too much salt in the diet and we've become too sensitive to light? Don't get me wrong. I don't want to make a mountain out of an anthill. But we do this at different points in life, and when caught up in it, the mind goes blank, the words cannot come, the silence deafening and maddening.

But what happens when the source of temptation appears to come from the very last place it would be expected? What if the desire to serve God becomes counterproductive? We are all witnesses to this great paradox in some shape or form.

That's when I really could use a divine GPS; the unmistakable 'turn by turn' directions to guide me.

Oh, there's one thing wrong with that, though.

GPS systems don't necessarily take into account road closures due to construction, or one-way streets, or other such adversities.

The last thing I want to do is follow some instruction blindly, only to find myself turning the wrong way into a one-way street, with traffic bearing down on me head-on.

I have to think. I have to claim responsibility for what I ultimately do as a result.

1 comment:

  1. Most excellent post. I sometimes think God has given man free will just to test out the capabilities and strength of His Creation. There is the road map and the GPS system, but no one realized that so many other things that we consider to be "must haves" would begin to make the device go awry. Accidental spill a mug of Starbucks on a Tom Tom, and that affect becomes quite evident. Yet, do we really, really need the Starbucks ? Wouldn't we be better off with a Mister Coffee and a travel mug ?