Tuesday, June 21, 2005

Curses!!

Today I was reading in Genesis, from “The Message”, and it was like I saw something clearly for the first time. Those blasted curses that Adam and Eve brought on themselves by choosing independence instead of relying on God have been following mankind around for thousands of years and despite the life and death of Jesus which was supposedly a redemptive act to end all need for redemptive acts, we still seem to living under them to a large extent. What the heck for? What is redemption if it does not affect the basic consequences of the very act it is said to redeem?

The woman’s curses: Basically, two things were set in motion for her: 1. her relationship with men was changed and 2. she heaped increased pain on herself in childbirth.

It seems that the feminists are the ones who have actually picked up on the detrimental effects of this first curse and are trying to do something about it. The church, well, we have managed to look at our imperfect heritage and a few scriptures which seem to make it okay for men to lord it over women in almost every area, and I have never heard anyone admit that this treatment is actually a curse. In fact, this way of doing things has worked so well for so many years, at least for the guys in charge, that the church generlly takes a stance against feminists (whose views are not perfect on this issue, I will readily admit).

Women were cursed to become men-pleasers and unfortunately we as Christians have disguised this as a sickly sweet version of godly submission when it is not! I am not talking about a loving relationship in which people prefer one another, so don’t misunderstand me. Women have been put under a curse in which their authority and positions and identities and value are always connected to men, when in fact they are to receive their affirmation and worth directly from God. Dependence on men's decisions, how men treat me, how attractive they find me, how many I have conquered, is the worst inferiority complex you can imagine! Who in their right mind really thinks this is a healthy state of affairs?

Okay, let’s take a look at the guys for a minute. The curses were: 1. he would have to work really hard to make a living and 2. he would die.

I was raised in a community where the ability to work hard was positioned next to godliness. This improper elevation of the work ethic has crept into our belief system and substituted itself for faith and a relationship with God. Remember the scenario before all this fruit-eating happened? God gave Adam and Eve the earth to care for and develop and everyday the three of them walked together and hung out. There was no frenzied activity, no overtime, no bonuses for production goals exceeded. There was peace, there was rest, there was genuine enjoyment of the task because it was inseparably intertwined with fellowship with God. In stark contrast to this, we have become people who seek to instil this cursed work ethic because we believe that the results will be exponential - the more you work, the more you will get - but we forget that the curse does not promise anything but a basic existence in return for pain and heavy labour.

If a break in fellowship with God has caused all these nasty curses (and I have not even addressed the pain in childbirth and death issues), then the reversal of their effects is obvious - we must get back into communion with God. That was the whole purpose for Jesus coming and living and dying: to repair the breech between God and man. So why are we still living under the effects of the curse? I don’t know. I suppose we have become so accustomed to our slavery and cursed deformity that we now see certain aspects of it as normal and in that case we need a redemption of our minds as much as anything.

If you met me and my husband, it would appear that you were seeing a submissive woman and a hardworking guy, the perfect Christian couple. But I struggle with indecisiveness and a lack of confidence while my husband works long hours just to provide our basic needs. We are two people tangled in the web of this curse, but I have caught a glimpse of the truth today, and it is said that truth is the road to freedom. I will not stand still on this cursed path any longer. On y va!

Wednesday, June 15, 2005

Are you at home?

A few weeks ago I was taking a train ride back to Stratford, Ontario where we used to live and as often happens when I travel, I found myself experiencing that strange jumbled sensation which simultaneously and randomly shifts my emotions from the sadness at leaving home to the joy of coming home to wondering exactly where home is to longing for familiar friends and places, yet knowing I will never find them exactly as I remembered them to excitement at the new adventures and relationships I have yet to discover. As I let the changing moods and scenery drift past me, I was reminded of one of my favourite playtime activities as a child: building a home. I spent hours drawing houses on paper and envisioning the 3-D model in my mind. Often I dragged all the kitchen chairs into my bedroom and constructed a maze of hallways and walls. The tall grass and trees along our driveway were the perfect raw materials for creating a primitive outdoor getaway with several small rooms and a grass bed. A simple wool blanket became a tent in my front yard where I could read a book or watch the clouds as the wind morphed them from one abstract masterpiece to another.

I suppose I have moved quite a bit for the average Canadian (13 homes, 2 school dorms, and one year on the road…thus far) and the practice of making a home out of whatever I find around me has been a perpetual mission in my life, but every so often, the whole thing just gets old and tired and I wish I would finally find a place I could plant my feet in and stay put. However, this restlessness is not mine to eradicate and if it were to disappear, I admit I would miss the hunger it creates. I have long since ceased trying to find my home in a “place”, but the constructing of the never-ending dream house still continues. It is smaller than ever because I have to transport it wherever I go, but in many ways it has become larger than I ever imagined: big enough to permanently house those dearest to me, roomy enough to welcome frequent visits from those I call my friends, and never too crowded to house the strangers and needy that come across my path.

What makes me feel at home? Anywhere I sense God is near and the love of a friend is present.

Thursday, June 09, 2005

initiating

I must admit, I am a better responder than an initiator, which sometimes makes it difficult for me to come up with something to write here without a question being asked or someone introducing a topic for discussion. I confess I have always found it a bit nerve-wracking to call someone up and ask them to do something, though I have learned to overcome that hesitation to a certain extent. I would much rather prefer to respond to an invitation, but I figure that a bunch of people sitting around waiting for invitations won’t get anything done, so I have learned to pick up the phone or type that email or walk up to someone, even though it is out of my comfort zone sometimes.

There are people that are very aggressive and ambitious in their personalities, that believe life is what you make of it, you are responsible to make things happen, you are in charge of your destiny, you’ve got to have a plan and carry it out or nothing will happen. I live with one of them! But I have also seen that all the planning and initiating and getting out there and doing the stuff can still result in nothing being accomplished.

A few weeks ago, some reconciliation happened that many of us have waited eight years to see. Numerous people tried to make it happen earlier. Effort and prayer and time and communication and meetings were spent trying to put it all together, but always with limited success and a sense of incompletion. We all knew this was of vital importance, but in the end, were impotent to see it fully realized. Then, through a series of unrelated events, all the people were in the right place at the right time and when the person in charge recognized this and seized the opportunity to address the issue again, the rest of us instantly responded. The results were explosive and extensive and I do believe, life changing because all of us were ready, willing, and able.

Looking back, I can see that there is no substitute for the timing and planning of God. I can have ambition, a drive and a passion for good things, a desire to see things accomplished, but these things can only take me so far. I see God as the ultimate initiator. He is the one who seeks us out, he is the one who offers the first invitation, who offers the opportunities for change. My part is not only to respond, but to be prepared, to be ready, to catch the vision, to jump right in there with both feet and pursue without hesitation what has been put in front of me. God initiates his love towards us, and in the same way, I must become an initiator of love to those around me. I cannot force anything to happen, and I cannot coerce someone to respond to any of my invitations and I certainly do not want to manipulate circumstances to my liking. I can, however, work on my reflexes, those first responses which reveal my deepest desires, and be prepared to fight for all those things I have dared to hope for and all those people I have come to love.


So, in case there are others of you out there who have a burning desire for something, and yet despite your best efforts, nothing has happened…don’t lose hope. Be prepared, be ready, be a person of integrity and truth and passion and risk and faithfulness, be willing, develop your skills, and keep asking God to provide the opportunity. If you trust him, he will not disappoint you.