Monday, April 3, 2017

Heavy Burdens

Have you ever taken a good look at your life and thought, "I wasn't made for this"? 

Chances are that if you're human, you've had this moment. Probably more than once. It happens to all of us, for one reason or another. Maybe you've been laid off, and you don't know where your next meal is coming from. Maybe your doctor called with bad news. Maybe your kids have done something that landed them in either the principal's office or the warden's. Maybe a friend betrayed you. Maybe a loved one died. Maybe three or four of seven of these kinds of things happened all at once and after one more sleepless night, you just find yourself standing in front of the mirror trying to work through the tangles in your restless hair as you contemplate the tangles in your restless heart, and you just find yourself screaming, I wasn't made for this!

You're not alone. 

I know that doesn't help much because our tendency when we hear that we are not alone is to start comparing. I know, I know, we say - so-and-so has it so much harder than I do. At least I _______. At least I don't ________. I can't imagine how _____ does it. And we talk ourselves through comparisons of miseries until our lives don't seem so bad at all, but if we're being honest, we're still tired and not sure how to manage it all. 

That's not at all what I'm advocating. Not in the slightest. (And I've written before about how unhelpful that kind of attitude is.) 

But I'm not sure there are a lot of God's creatures who necessarily think this is what they were made for. Take the ant. It spends its entire life hauling grains of sand to build a little home that can be blown away by a simple wind (or stomped on by a simple child), only to have to start over again. Every grain of sand, indeed, every ounce of food, everything the ant carries at all, it has to hoist on top of its tiny little body - weights five, ten, fifty times its own weight. The ant probably thinks, yeah, I wasn't made for this. 

Or what about the butterfly? It starts out life as a worm. It spends months inside a little cocoon of its own making, having wrapped itself so tight in its own silks that it can't even move, and then it has to figure out how to bust out of all of that and then, of all things, fly. Can you imagine what it must be like to spend your whole life knowing you're a worm and then have to adjust to having wings? The caterpillar thinks, yeah, I wasn't made for this. 

A lesser-known example - I've got camel crickets in my house from time to time. These are creepy, giant spider-looking crickets that are programmed to jump toward whatever scares them. So, yeah, if you happen upon one, it jumps toward you at approximately 6-11 feet per jump. Now, who's scared? But it's the weirdest thing. If you smack one of these camel crickets with a flyswatter (or even sometimes, if you hit it with bug spray), it doesn't usually die right away...but its legs fall off. The one thing it does well - jump toward things that scare it and in turn, scare them - it can no longer do. It can just...lie there. And die. Slowly. With its legs lying next to it, thighs still attached and all. And in those final moments, I say even the camel cricket cannot help but think, yeah, I wasn't made for this.

The platypus has no idea what it was made for. 

It's a common theme, I think, because God's ways are so much higher than our ways. We look at creation, and it's beautiful, but almost any body that we would try to live inside has its own paradoxes. Everything in God's creation has to wrestle with something about itself that doesn't seem to make much sense. It's what makes us dependent upon Him for everything we've got. Us, and the ant, and the butterfly, and even the camel cricket. (The platypus, too.) 

So we're not alone in feeling the paradox of our holy, broken lives. And there are some things we can learn from the rest of God's creation about how we really are created. We'll look at a couple of those in the days to come. 

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