I used to think that life was hills and valleys - you go through a dark time, then you go to the mountaintop, back and forth. I don't believe that anymore. Rather than life being hills and valleys, I believe that it's kind of like two rails on a railroad track, and at all times you have something good and something bad in your life.. No matter how good things are in your life, there is always something bad that needs to be worked on. And no matter how bad things are in your life, there is always something good you can thank God for. - Rick Warren
Someone sent me a Rick Warren interview just over a week ago and as I have been thinking about this excerpt, I have found that there is much truth in it. I do tend to see things quite black and white, good and bad for the most part, and that means I miss much of the richness and depth of the multi-dimensional life we live, not to mention the accompanying mystery and beauty of it!
For example, I know that I am sometimes easily influenced by others, and I have always thought of that as a weakness of mine. After I read this quote, I realised that this pliability is actually what makes me a very good and quick learner. I adapt easily, I pick up new ways of doing things, and I will try almost anything. Where I only saw the bad, I missed a whole chunk of real goodness that was tied to it. If I try to eliminate this flexibility from my character, I will lose a very valuable gift that I have. Good and back existing together. The challenge is not to root out the bad which might very well pull out something good along with it, but to encourage the good to grow without giving power to the bad.
On the other hand, when something good comes my way, a blessed opportunity, I can develop an ideal of perfection in my mind and project it onto this good thing before me. You know what happens then...I get disappointed when these high expectations are not met, because there is always the weakness of humanity and the brokenness of this world that must be taken into account. It does not make the redemption of God any less effective, in fact, it heightens the need for mercy and showcases the unbiased generosity of God's beautifying grace.
Our goodness is never as good as we would like it to be, and our badness is never as deadly as we fear it will be. Good and bad - both are but tools for divine glory in the hands of a very creative and mighty God. Let me not be so preoccupied with the tools that I fail to see the grand work of art the master is working on.
NOTE: I am not trying to blur the lines between good and evil here, but there seems to be something quite diminishing about casting the most powerful being in the universe (and beyond) as the better half of the classic struggle between opposing powers. He is God, after all, and nothing exists without him. If there is any appearance of a clash or battle, it is because he has chosen to limit himself and become involved in our struggle for some purpose much greater and more beautiful than we can fathom.
This is the wharfinger's shack at St. Andrews, New Brunswick.