Thursday, November 27, 2014

Graces, Math, Practice and Delight

I'm not one given to sentimentality, particularly not about things like thankfulness on Thanksgiving. Reality is good, but I often find sentimentality is more in touch with creativity than reality.

So here's my take on what I am thankful for today.

The other day I experienced something that I could recognize as clearly a gift of grace. There was a situation that was not unlike other situations I've been in in past months and years that has caused me grief, bitterness, pain and turmoil. But on this recent occasion, it came and I was ok. I greeted it with acceptance, and there wasn't the slightest bit of pain involved. In fact, I had a smiling feeling of delight precisely because I recognized the grace involved in this. I was happy in facing this difficulty.

A day or so passed, and I admired this little experience. Ah, how good God is to me. I'm making progress. Indeed.

And then out of the blue, in a setting I didn't at all expect, there were comments innocently made to me that cut me down to the heart. Ouch.

Oh, wait. This is just like that other thing I was just so happy about. Ok, take a deep breath, and go to the same place. I managed.

Then there was another situation where I was already prepared for it to be rough. I was not disappointed. But dang, all of a sudden I realize that the same principle is in play here as in that graced victory the other day. No wonder I've never liked it. The pummel came like a slow, swinging pendulum. Again. Again. Again.


There's nothing at all wrong with delighting in evidence of grace working, because it is the gift of God. But there's everything wrong with sucking on the sweetness of being a location of God's grace working. Yay me. It's going so well for me now. I'm so, you know... where it's at.

It reminds me of my daughter's approach to learning math. She will dutifully sit with me, attend, and while I work with her, she will grasp a concept. Her face will beam. "Ok, now you do this same thing on this two-page exercise, all in different ways."

Wait. What?

"Oh, and this is a skill that you'll be using over and over and in combination with much more complicated skills for the rest of your life."

Crap. It's not fun anymore.

Well, guess what my dear. It's lovely for you to find it fun, but the need really is that it becomes second nature to you, so that you have the skill to do this automatically and use it in situations where math, or virtue, is actually called for and needed. Because that's the whole point of learning. It forms you, and you master it. And so you are more fully human in this one little way. Oh, and there are hundreds and hundreds of these little bits for you to learn. Some will come easily and stay with you, and some you'll probably have to do some little mental gymnastic to accomplish for the rest of your life.

Let the delight of your soul simply be looking at your Lord and loving Him. Let everything bring you back to Him, lest you get stuck in even the most lovely bit of creation or the most wonderful effect of grace.

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