Entertaining ourselves to death

God seems to tether us to the world through relationships and circumstances beyond our control. Our faith and family, labors and poverty, community and sufferings, ground us to the earth and remind us that we are only a bit of dust and the breath of God.

Our dependence upon him for daily bread and daily hope and all of the other dailies shouldn’t drag us down but be a great encouragement. Every day, He is not just there but there for us.

For men especially, that we’re raised to expect incredible adventures, war and conquest can create unreachable expectations of worldly glory that cause discomfort with the real world tedium of work, family and church. It’s easy to feel that life is passing us by and it makes it harder to see the fidelity of God in granting us the peace that our mouths request.

Even so, He generally arranges our lives in waves of rest and conflict, rest and conflict, so as not to overwhelm us with too fast a sanctification, because He knows that we are incredibly weak and fragile creatures. If He pushes just a little too hard (to reveal in us how great our need for Him) we collapse immediately. Our presumed inner strength is myth, and every real strength we have is of grace; there is nothing of ourselves in which we can glory.

It’s one of the reasons that friendships and entertainments should be carefully weighed; we don’t want our social or fantasy life to be at war with the actual conditions that God places us in. That kind of thing can create an uneasy life where we have unrealistic expectations, and unrealistic expectations are a very real danger to the soul. How so? Just think about the 10th commandment. God in his wisdom saw fit to make a rule about internal states of desire: we are not allowed to want just anything. We are not allowed to want just anyone. We are allowed to want what we’ve got and that is pretty weird.

Why? Because it destroys us to want more and more, and He knows we have it in us. Cain had it in the beginning. His father Adam wanted to know. Satan tried to get Jesus to take the short route to claiming the world around the cross and straight to a throne of ashes.

But this is just to say, that the distance between what we want and what we’ve got is manageable. Many of the films we watch are designed to embrace our tendency to want to live out other lives, with other wives/husbands, and other children, with power, or violence, or dangers from which we pray for God to actively protect us. Is there a contradiction in there between prayer and practice? It’s one of the easiest ways to know that we’re really just messing around.

If we think, as men are prone to think, that we’re strong enough to be unaffected (while lesser men should avoid contaminating mind and heart), that God has made us of sterner stuff, we shouldn’t be so much wiser than God. That kind of strength is a fable, but an all-time favorite.

If we fail to fail it is of grace, not of strength.

 

Philippians 4:8

 

Neiswonger

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