7 Rambling Takes

7 Rambling Takes September 14, 2018

Now it’s Friday. Goodness what a long week.
Boy the pictures of the hurricane are so amazing. It may have slowed down but its so huge. Its such a strange kind of catastrophe, so slow—like the way some people’s lives unravel. You can see it coming a mile away but it’s still really surprising when it happens.

Or like the way you can see your new school year coming at you all those months and weeks and hours and days but when it finally arrives it still chops you off at the knees so that you hobble around really shocked by how much work it is.

I know it wasn’t really close, but color me relieved that Cynthia Nixon didn’t win the New York primary. I’ve been lying awake a night sometimes, trying to imagine what this state would be like with her as governor. I mean, Cuomo does not love me and makes that very clear all the time. He is left of left and has openly said he wishes that all anti-abortion, pro-traditional marriage people would just leave. But somehow he seems selfish enough to occasionally moderate in order not to lose, even to the right, in so far as that even exists in politics up here.

But Nixon? She is a true believer, and that alarms me. I know that by noticing this I must obviously be a hater of women. When there’s a woman to vote for, you better vote for her or you don’t love women. I’ve seen people still saying this on Twitter. As if Mrs. Clinton or Ms. Nixon are just ordinary women who will always do what is best for all people, especially women, and aren’t so aggressively progressive they would eventually push all the men into the hurricane if they could. Quite the conundrum for the pro woman woman who is so uncouth as to also like men.

As usual I’ve been thinking about what is required for the spiritual ear to be opened up and a person to hear the gospel in a saving way. Of course this is the work of the Holy Spirit and none of us can possibly make another person believe. But there are some clues in scripture about what makes it easier for people, and there is certainly the testimony of people who flee the darkness for the light—what made the difference in the end.

The difficult thing for this generation is the issue of obedience, especially for children. The Bible says it in myriad and sundry ways that are hard for us to understand because it’s not one of our values. The child that hasn’t been taught to obey will always have a hard time hearing about the saving love of Jesus, even more so when he or she grows up. It is a strange mysterious thing. The obedient child isn’t just someone who is docile and does what she is told, she has rather developed and inner spiritual ear, a capacity and readiness to hear that resonates like a tuning fork for the things of God.

So what do you do when you really want to tell a pack of unruly children about Jesus? Children who won’t listen about not throwing all the sugar packets on the floor, and won’t listen about the chair lift, and won’t listen about using all the glue. Try to talk about Jesus and it is essentially impossible.

After a lot of trial and error, the thing I’ve discovered is to draw the smallest, simplest and most terrible lines and to keep them. A line like, don’t crush that cupcake into this rug. Send the children home if they cross your line. They will come back, most likely, because the line is a curiosity, and they want to know more about it. Painstaking, incrementally, over a horrifically long time, move the line close and closer to the prayer table and the Bible story book. All the time sending them home when they don’t obey. In this way, every now and then, by degrees, you can begin to circle around who Jesus is and why it might be interesting to know about him.

It is a maddening work.

Maddening because it is the paradox of free. The gospel is free, of course, but it is given at a terrible cost. When you give the gospel out for free it doesn’t really help to give away a lot of stuff around it. Because when the passerby stops to consider it, and discovers that the price is his or her own soul, most often that person will go away disappointed and sad.

Similarly, when the Cynthia Nixons of the world want the state to be the center of a person’s life, when the state will beneficently give everything that everyone needs, it sounds lovely. But the cost is so high. The cost is the self. Whoever gives you your life, to that person you belong forever.

Ah, well, didn’t mean to get political. I must arise and go yell at my children to listen. Their souls are at stake. I’m sure pointing that out will make this day peachy. Go check out more takes!

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