The pendulum is swinging

The pendulum is swinging

The pendulum is swinging - Part 21 - Takeaway Christianity

The pendulum is swinging

Fast food, swift cars, quick communication, snap decisions...wait
a minute, snap decisions?...the pace of life in the Western World is
accelerating...and we're making snap decisions? The words of the old hymn
spring to mind "...oh what peace we often forfeit, oh what needless pain we
bear -– all because we (make snap decisions) do not carry everything to God in
prayer". Psalm 90:10 reminds us of the brevity of our earthly lives, but goes
on to say "...so teach us to number our days that we may apply our hearts unto
wisdom". The question begs an answer. 'Why do we need to apply our hearts
unto wisdom: wisdom for what, particularly if we know we're out of here
anyway?'

Recently I was enjoying the afternoon sun, sitting on our
verandah which overlooks our neighbours property. We live up on an elevation and
I have a birds-eye view of happenings in the neighbourhood -– add to
this the fact that our neighbours are my Dad and Mum, it's great. Anyway, on
this particular evening, I watched with interest my Mum fossicking in her
garden, inspecting growth, pulling the odd weed and relocating ornamental bits
from one place to another. I enjoyed trying to work out whether there was rhyme
or reason to it all as she worked on, obviously delighted with the whole
activity, investing her energies into this botanical pursuit. A Christian friend
popped in and made a statement which confirmed to me again that our thoughts
(beliefs) really do control how we go about living our lives.
"Amazing isn't
it" he said "doing all of that work and it'll all be gone soon, all that
work for nothing". "For nothing?" I replied. Almost without thinking I
continued "I think this is perhaps the greatest problem facing us in the
Western World...forget materialism and love of money, before all of that comes
the curse of a 'short term view". A short term view is the opposite to
faith, purposeful living and ultimately life more abundant. A short term view
robs us of enjoying the journey as we are so intent on making it to the
destination
. My friend was a little bewildered and perhaps thought I was
going through a deep and meaningful phase of life as I continued "That garden
is a testimony to my Mum's perseverance and personal commitment to labour
towards a goal...it is a part of her legacy to her children and grandchildren
who will remember certain things about their Nanna as they enjoy her garden in
years to come -– besides all of that, my Mum is not lazy, and enjoys the
challenge of hard work. This is in itself is a blessing to me her son. No! This
is not all for nothing!" Later on I spoke to my wife about this unusual
conversation and she reminded me that after God spent six days of labour
creating this world (and us), He sat back for the Sabbath and said "It is good",
in other words as He rested, He enjoyed the fruit of His labours. A blueprint
for His creation perhaps?

In fact why do we bother doing anything at all in life?
People completely ruled by a short term view would immediately chip in 'Yes,
why do we bother...?' Thankfully, as we get to know God more and more, He
lifts our vision beyond our natural scope of view, and provided we are prepared
to 'let go' of our puny thoughts, He invites us to be partakers in something
far bigger and more fulfilling than our wildest imaginations could ever provide
for us: The Divine Partnership -– a creative God, and man made in His image
(to be creative) -– 2 Peter 1:4-13.
My feeling is that we are so afraid of
humanistic thinking and new age philosophies (illegitimate forms) that we do not
dare to dream or step forward with confidence and say to our peers -– 'I
believe, therefore I must do something - Watch this!'. The natural
progression is that correct religious assumptions precede accurate principles,
leading to clear thoughts and ideas, productive deeds and God's blessing for
diligence -– in reality, this is the will of God
. "The Kingdom of Heaven
is as a man travelling into a far country, who called his own servants and
delivered unto them his goods...". The whole of Matthew 25 offers some very
useful insight into what God requires of His people, those who have 'given
their lives to Him -– and therefore entered the Divine partnership'.

The Scriptures talk a great deal about the flesh being at
enmity with God -– of this we have no doubt. Mans' grave problem with
selfcentredness and sin is clearly spoken about in the Word, and is physically
enacted before our very eyes daily. We are well advised to be aware of our
carnality and associated tendencies! However, there is the legitimate side of
our beings.
We are made in the image of God and need to acknowledge this
fact, along with its associated blessings.

What happens when we trade in this useless short term view
for a balanced long term version? A whole range of behavioural patterns change!
We stop looking for quick fixes, easy escapes and a focus on money or rewards in
the short term. God looks after His people, and we go about establishing long
term results from having ordered our decision making in accordance with His will
(which is one and the same thing as our best self interest). For example, the
businessman
who has a Godly long term view will not be interested in just
grabbing peoples money, but serving his customers to the best of his ability,
building 'customer relationships for life'...even establishing a legacy for
the next generation to continue the work... Short term expediency would have the
business person make it clear that they are interested in only what they can
make out of the customer. Pastors with a long term view learn that God
has an abundance of giftings available within different people, and that the
pastor's role is to nurture and allow people to exercise these gifts for the
work of the ministry -– the moment a pastor forgets this, a short term view of
running around trying to solve everybody's problems occurs. The person who
has a
long term view of health will look at what is happening to
their bodies now, and take appropriate steps to balance food and drink, stress
levels and exercise -– because there is a future! Some religious beliefs would
have us worry about our spirits, but neglect our bodies...short term expediency!
Parents with a long term view spend appropriate time with their
children, but also look at the best opportunities they can encourage them in,
including the disciplines of education and hard work. Short term expediency
(quick fixes) should be warned against -– we are establishing these children,
setting them up for when we are gone! Proverbs 29:15-18 in the context of
disciplining children comes the well known passage..."Where there is no
vision
the people perish".

Personal tragedies aside (which are always salvageable
because of God), after a lifetime of productivity and purposeful living, a man
or woman who orders their lives in accordance with Godly wisdom and balanced
discipline, can leave a raft load of spiritual and material goods to
their offspring -– a multigenerational heritage of great strength. The hope of
heaven is a wonderful extra gift, divinely over and above the process of our
physical lives -– but not a substitute for it!

My Mum's garden is not a waste of time!