Barbara Laymon

Praying and blogging along the way

Changing up the to-do list

January 29, 2011

Tags: Functioning, 1 John, Matthew

Solomon in all his glory was not clothed like one of these.
A pioneer farmer goes to church one Sunday after a long week plowing the fields. He has spent years working the land, and although his forty acres – once a wilderness of trees, overgrowth, and mosquitoes – was somewhat tamed, it still required his every waking moment. He listens to the preacher wax on about the perfection of God and God’s handiwork. As the farmer is leaving, the preacher, shaking his hand and noticing the tiredness around his eyes, attempts an encouraging word. “Brother Steve, I was out past your place just the other day. Your farm looks beautiful.”
“Yep,” says the farmer. “Thank you preacher. You should have seen it when God had it.”
If God’s creation is any reflection of God’s character, God does seem to have a high tolerance for chaos. God might even be seen to have a preference for chaos, for uncontrolled growth, for letting things go, and even for allowing error (or sin) into the universe. The farmer, though, is stuck. Chaos for him means no crops, no food, no life. Perhaps the green movement would say that the farmer should have lived off the land differently, in harmony with the chaotic universe. And although there may be some truth in that, it misses the point, the reason that the joke evokes a laugh, an immediate recognition of a deeper truth: God’s ways are not our ways.
How, then, are we to be called the children of God? Knowing that we have to eat, how do we live on this earth in a manner that is consistent with a God who invites us to live a life unencumbered by the problems of this world? How do we have the faith that considers the lilies of the valley, which neither toil nor spin? How do we let go? I don’t know, but I have one clue. If the metaphor will stretch this far, I would say that one thing we can do is for all of us to quit plowing the same spot. Who is not guilty (at home, at work, at church, wherever) of going behind another person and tweaking that person’s work, or focusing on suggestions for that person’s life, to the neglect of one’s own? It will always be challenging to let go and let God, but surely it is possible to let go of someone else’s work, in favor of dedicating oneself to what God has given oneself to do.
To do this, of course, one must trust others to do their part. And if they fail (and who among us won’t?) we must trust God to redeem what happens, believing that God will be gracious to us all. Finally, one must be clear about what – out of the many ways a person could spend a day – would actually be faithful to oneself as a child of God. It might be a very different and incredibly light to-do list!