Posted in Spirituality

The Day Contentment Died

Fear. A new sensation. They had never felt this way before.

They heard wolves howling in the distance and instinctively knew they were in danger. They found a cave to hide in and waited for morning.
What a different place their world had been just a few short hours previously.
It seemed to make so much sense at the time. Just one bite of the apple and they would be like God. Turns out it was all a lie. That apple had been pure poison, destroying everything they had ever known.
Purity turned to shame.
Trust to blame.
Fellowship to hiding.
The Lord had come walking in the garden, like He did every day. But they could not face standing before Him. They were naked and ashamed, and so they hid.
Their relationship with each other – destroyed.
Their relationship with God – destroyed.
Their relationship with the rest of creation – destroyed.
Their world had been so full of treasure. Every day was full of joy and new discoveries.
And now? Now it was dark, threatening, uncertain.
Yet in the midst of it all, in the midst of darkness and fear, there was a still, small voice telling them there would be new treasures to discover.
Treasures of grace and mercy, of forgiveness. They had a first taste of that when the Lord, full of compassion, made them clothes. Nakedness and shame covered.
He made a promise that one day the power of the snake, the power of lies and deceit, would be broken.
They’d had a first taste but there would be so much more to come.
The poison powerful, invading everything.
Yet the treasure of God’s love more powerful still.
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
(This text came out of a writing challenge I did with some friends. Three images from Story Cubes, some connection to faith and 20 minutes.)
Thinking about contentment this week, I came back to this story. That day, contentment as Adam & Eve had known it, died. I don’t think contentment was ever straightforward. It was always a choice. When it took a while for a “suitable companion” to be found. When the snake suggested they were lacking and offered more.
Yet there was a purity and an innocence that died that day. Poison invaded the world. New treasures of grace and forgiveness were born. That’s the tension we live in, I live in.
I can celebrate Communion and marvel again at the miracle of a God who loves so deeply and gives so abundantly. Then I step out of church and contentment goes out the window because I have to wait a whole 6 minutes for my train. (I mean, what is the world coming to? Really not acceptable! Yup, I’m absolutely a spoiled Berliner!)
The tension of “holy discontent” because this world is so far from what it was meant to be. And “not so holy” discontent because things don’t work out exactly the way I would like them to.
“Do this in remembrance of me”. Oh how my heart needs to be reminded of love, of forgiveness, of hope. One day, the tension will be no more. In the meantime, I am thankful for the treasures to be found in the midst of the tension.
This post has been linked to Velvet Ashes, an encouraging site for women serving cross-culturally.
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Grand Red Curtains Parted

(Stock.XCHNG/ weatherbox)

Helena and I stepped out of the darkness of the shaded woods and entered a world of colour.  I held my breath at the sight before me.  It was a though grand red curtains had parted to welcome a production on such a grand scale I could barely focus on one thing for long enough.  What welcomed my eyes was an entire bustling village of nations gathering.  Some people were walking alone, others gathering in twos, threes, groups and in crowds.  Sights of traditional costumes, sounds of combined languages, scents of cuisines from all over the world.  It was rich and alive, bursting at the seams with colour and sounds as though we’d followed the path of a pulse to reach the heart of the woods.  And there it pumped, people flowing here, there and everywhere.

(from: Cecelia Ahern, A Place Called Here, beginning of chapter 18)

This passage literally took my breath away.  This is how I picture heaven!  Colours, sounds, scents.  So much more intense than anything I have experienced or could even imagine.  All the nations on earth.  From huge empires to tribes long forgotten.  And it’s not the empires as such, it’s the people.  The people shaped by that culture and context.

 After this I looked, and there before me was a great multitude that no one could count, from every nation, tribe, people and language (Revelation 7:9)

Everyone together.  Not all the same, still distinct, unique.  But without the strive, the prejudice, the fighting, even the petty misunderstandings.

The nations will walk by its light, and the kings of the earth will bring their splendour into it. (Revelation 21:24)

I wonder what that splendour will look like.  I don’t think it’s just diamonds, gold and the like.  In my mind, it’s each culture, each tribe, each nation the way it was meant to be.  Untainted by selfishness, suspicion, sin.  What will they bring, what will their splendour be?  The Germans?  The Americans?  The Afghans?  The Yali?  The Roma?

But that’s just my theory.  I would love for it to be like that!  We’ll see.

PS Just to clarify: the context for this scene in Cecelia Ahern’s story is totally different to what it sparked in me!