The danger of forgetting the beauty and the light

Don’t just pretend to love others. Really love them. Hate what is wrong. Hold tightly to what is good. Love each other with genuine affection, and take delight in honoring each other. Never be lazy, but work hard and serve the Lord enthusiastically. Rejoice in our confident hope. Be patient in trouble, and keep on praying. When God’s people are in need, be ready to help them. Always be eager to practice hospitality. Bless those who persecute you. Don’t curse them; pray that God will bless them. Be happy with those who are happy, and weep with those who weep. Live in harmony with each other. Don’t be too proud to enjoy the company of ordinary people. And don’t think you know it all! Never pay back evil with more evil. Do things in such a way that everyone can see you are honorable. Do all that you can to live in peace with everyone.

Romans 12:9-18
– North Carolina writer Derek Maul

Sometimes you don’t know how grungy something is until after it’s cleaned up – and then it’s so obvious it’s almost embarrassing.

  • Question: When did you last wash your car? Answer: Surely it hasn’t been that long?…. OMG! Maybe it has!
  • Q: Don’t you think it’s time to clean the windows? A: They’re not that bad, are they?…. Oh good grief; look! Now we can see the back yard!
  • Q: Do you want me to polish those shoes for you? A: No, I’m sure they’re fine…. No way! Now they’re black and shiny? I’m so embarrassed.
  • Q: We’ve been talking about getting someone to pressure-wash the driveway and the sidewalks. It’s long overdue. A: Seriously? I mean, how bad could they be?…. Arrrrggghhh! So they’re not supposed to be grayish-green?

That’s right, the driveway and the walkways – and the parents’ next door, who knew they were supposed to be a nice, bright, and white?

A couple of years ago, one of our young friends started apprenticing with a pressure-washing contractor, learning all the ins and outs of the trade and how to handle some seriously heavy-duty equipment. Recently he purchased the business and now he’s an entrepreneur in his own right.

So we asked him to tackle the concrete outside of our homes.

Four and a half hours of hard work later, the results were stunning. “Did he bleach the concrete?” my mum asked. “He may have used some to kill the mildew,” I said. “But no. This is what the driveway is supposed to look like!”

Easy to forget:

What we actually had, all along, was simply obscured by dirt, stains, mildew, and grunge. But – and here’s the point of this post – the longer you get used to something the less you notice it.

I think two things are going on:

  • First, it’s the familiarity of the grunginess. It’s just what we see every day and it becomes “normal.”
  • Secondly, I believe we forget what things originally looked like.

I think the forgetting is probably more dangerous than the habituation.

Let’s say, for the sake of illustration, that I moved away from a life of devotion and worship; that I stopped attending church, neglected my devotional life, and slipped out of the habit of prayer.

– my mum, appreciating the clean driveway

Maybe I adjusted to the absence of God in my day-to-day live, maybe I became more and more familiar with and comfortable in the new rhythms of my life. Not that I ever thought, “I’m going to drop God,” anymore than I said, “Let’s cultivate a dirty, grungy driveway!”

But what if – after weeks, or months, even years – I actually forgot what it was like to have God at the center of my life? What if there was no memory tugging at my heartstrings and calling me home?

Good news… coupled with responsibility:

The good news is that I believe real life, pure light, hope, and promise are built into the human psyche, much like the caterpillar has almost a residual memory of being a butterfly embedded into its DNA. But what if we find such beauty, and then we drift away for so long it becomes buried deep in our subconscious?

Don’t let that happen! And, if you suspect you are forgetting the transcendent beauty and light that is The Holy, then take some positive steps to re-immerse yourself in a faith-based community where it is obviously all about Jesus and love – rather than politics and judgement.

It is there, the beauty of holiness; but we have a huge part to play in keeping ourselves in focus, and living – intentionally – in the light.

Peace and more – DEREK

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