Archives For December 2013

In my post last night I wrote:

At times I struggle because I have chosen to put my family ahead of my career.  At times I find myself wondering what might have been if I had made career advancement my goal.  Tonight I had no struggles, but instead gratitude.  Gratitude that I could share the adventure, share my heart, and share the love of God’s Son with my son.

Today I stopped to grab a bagel for lunch and read a few pages in “Renovation of the Heart.”  I hope I can communicate to you the connection between what I wrote last night and the words of Willard I read today.

Regarding ideas, Dallas Willard wrote:

Ideas are very general models of or assumptions about reality.  They are patterns of interpretation, historically developed and socially shared.  They sometimes are involved with beliefs, but are much more than belief and do not depend upon it.  They are ways of thinking about and interpreting things.  They are so pervasive and essential to how we think about and how we approach life that we often do not even know they are there or understand when and how they are at work.  Our idea system is a cultural artifact, growing up with us from earliest childhood out of the teachings, expectations, and observable behaviors of family and community.  .  .  .  it is extremely difficult for most people to recognize which ideas are governing their life and how those ideas are governing their life.

This is partly because one commonly identifies his or her own governing ideas with reality.  .  .  .  Another illustration of “idea grip” would be how most people think of success in life in terms of promotions and possessions.  One’s culture is seen most clearly in what one thinks of as “natural” and as requiring no explanation or even thought.

It is this particular “idea grip” that still has a grasp on me.  And I do think that what ideas are seen by most as “natural” define the true reality of our culture.  We currrently live in a cultural that places a heavy emphasis on job titles, promotions, responsibilities and the like.  We judge people by the job/career that they have and by the possessions they have accumulated – the house, car, boat, lake home, furnishings, artwork, etc.

Yet when I spend time pondering the teachings of Jesus, he places no importance in these ideas.  And instead I find that the ideas which he promulgates are seen as “unnatural” within our cultural setting.  And so today I realized that my subconscious is the midst of a battle of ideas.  A battle between the prevailing cultures definition of success, and Christ’s definition of success.  Which idea will win?  The one that I feed.  And that is why I am reading Renovation of the Heart.

Now, the simplicity of spiritual formation lies in its intention.  Its aim is to bring every element in our being, working from inside out, into harmony with the will of God and the kingdom of God.  This is the simple focus.  We must keep it constantly before us and not be distracted by other things, no matter how good they may appear.  (Willard)

On to the (spiritual) journey.

My son, who is seven, came down with some kind of “bug” this week and had to stay home from school the last two days.  On this occasion it made sense for me to be the one to take time off work to be with him and it turned into an unexpected adventure.

Earlier this year he and I started to read the Chronicles in Narnia together.  He leans heavily against my shoulder and hangs on every word.  Occasionally he will stop me and ask me to point out a word, which he then studies with rapt attention.  Or he will ask me what some creature is: say a Naiad, or a Dryad, or a Centaur.  At this point we will usually turn to the laptop to find a few exemplars and then move along.

Yesterday, when he was the sickest, we only read two chapters.  Today, he was on the mend and he was on a mission to devour the story together.  And so we read the final eight chapters of “The Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe.”

Of course I love the opportunity to sit ever so close on the couch and share a good adventure together.  But even more, I enjoy the opportunity  it brings for me to build into his life.  To paint a picture of good and evil, right and wrong — and our place, our mission in the midst of it.  I seized the opportunity to show him the parallels between Narnia and our world, between Aslan and Jesus, between Edmund and each of us.  I even warned him that I might cry, as I often do, when Aslan gives his life for Edmund.  And I explained how I was like Edmund and Jesus was my Aslan.  I don’t think he really gets it yet, but he did keep looking to see if any tears wear running down my cheek.

After we finished the last chapter and I put him to bed I had a few moments to reflect.  At times I struggle because I have chosen to put my family ahead of my career.  At times I find myself wondering what might have been if I had made career advancement my goal.  Tonight I had no struggles, but instead gratitude.  Gratitude that I could share the adventure, share my heart, and share the love of God’s Son with my son.

The journey adventure continues.