Saturday, January 03, 2009

Comforting or Unsettling?

An affection for enigmas is not to be confused with an ability to solve them. I've been accused (by my mother) of being a deep thinker but I never seem to recall having been called a deep problem-solver.
But, I like enigmas.
Thinking has always been a risky proposition for me. The conclusion is always pretty much foregone and usually determined by what mindset I was in when I undertook such ill-advised activity.
With this past history, it is perhaps difficult to understand why, when, just a few miles south of Cincinnati, Ohio, a certain innocuous thought channeled me down a detour that looked a little forbidding, I wouldn't have just remained on the freeway, shunning back roads and rabbit trails.
Well, I'm forever taking the scenic route.
It was a positive thought, the one that started it all.
Isn't it comforting, I reflected, to know that, despite not knowing myself all that well, there is One who knows simply everything about me, and I can present Him with problems that I have not yet been able to form into words, and He understands.
What a privilege to carry . . .
What a privilege to descend into myself and talk to God.
Trouble is, objected my suddenly fearless analytical mind, am I really talking to God?
Am I simply reasoning with myself?
At ground zero, is it just me and God, or, just me?
When I stop long enough to become completely silent and consider what has been nagging at me, are the forthcoming answers to my questions from God, or are they only the natural result of reasoning with myself?
I asked God one time what He was about ( it seemed He was engaging in a little unnecessary roughness) and the answer came, swiftly and clearly.
But, was the answer His, or my own conclusion; only the effect of finally knowing how to phrase the question?
Understand, this mental reroute was not leading me toward doubt. I simply believe we do not benefit from attributing everything to God or Satan, at least, not in the sense of direct divine or diabolical intervention or decree. I.E., did God really turn all the traffic lights green on your hasty way to work, or did Satan really turn them all red?
I've always felt it was gratuitous and even irreverent to attribute such trifles to God. Irreverent because the party in question may have been transgressing the speed limit by an irresponsible margin while catching said green lights. Gratuitous because had you left in time you wouldn't have required all green lights.
During my abbreviated college experience, I was discussing this general subject, concerning what is or is not entirely secular in our lives, with a friend and he related a discussion he'd had with another classmate.
Everything we do, proposed this third party, is either in the service of God or Satan. Everything.
To illustrate his point, he reached out to a desk chair and spun it around. "I just spun that chair for God."
My friend and I judged this just plain stupid.
Looking back on it, whether he did or did not spin that chair for God, whether he was simply illustrating a point, or whether he was just being flippant, his basis for making that declaration is one I think I only now see.
Answer this for me: If the wind moves a blade of grass, is that occurrence completely devoid of meaning? I am not asking you to find some cosmic significance in this, (mostly because I believe that the meaning of it is beyond us) I am only asking the question in the negative. Not, what does it mean, but, is it meaningless? Does anything happen in a vacuum?
If our idea of God is accurate, then He saw the grass bowing before the wind, because He is omniscient. If He saw it, then He permitted it. If He permitted it, He did so for a reason.
It seems to me that if you can accept one second of your life, one pass of your wiper blades, one fallen hair of your head, or one bending blade of bluegrass as quintessentially meaningless, then you have just imploded a distant star, and created a nihilistic black hole into which all meaning and all purpose will eventually disappear.
If anything is futile, if one minuscule happening is not under His supervision and therefore under His control, then He is not God and becomes definitively I AM NOT instead of I AM.
So, accepting that nothing falls under the category of meaningless, what then do I make of my original question? While I am praying, if the answer that occurs to me is little more than common sense, is the entire exercise secular?
This echoes a debate as old as Plato. Are some things spiritual, and some things secular?
Let's get simplistic here. Reading the Bible is undoubtedly spiritual. So, is the act of turning the page from Acts 2 to Acts 3 also spiritual? Or do we have a purely secular, physical act facilitating the spiritual? And does that not automatically sanctify the act of turning the page? This all works out to an unsettling conclusion. Pumping gas in your car is as spiritual as taking communion.
If all is done to the glory of God.
If the young collegian was sincere, I suppose that the chair was spun for God.
And, if I am sincere, then the answer I received was God's common sense.
Of course, if nothing we do is meaningless, does that comfort you, or make you really nervous?


Jackie said...

deep thinker is...being at the bottom of a deep hole and wondering how I'm gonna climb out! Jackie

wncjr said...

You have also been accused of thinking outside the box(by your father).But now my mind is spinning and I do not know for sure if I am comforted or unsetteled.Great thinking nate.