There is this pervading thought that we don’t have enough. Not enough time to attend to everything, for one thing. But the more I think about it, the more it begins to seem that it is really about having too much; or, perhaps more accurately, about trying to have too much.
I am often frustrated that I don’t have enough time to learn all the things I want to learn; but really it is that I have more opportunities to learn than I can truly take advantage of. I feel like I can’t do all the things, but the problem really is that I am trying to do too many things. What we really need is not more, but rather an acceptance of less.
I think about this particularly now as I think about Christ came into and lived on this world. We say we want to do All Of The Things. He was a carpenter. I don’t think that being a carpenter is somehow more holy than, say, being a farmer, or a metal smith, or a potter, or a weaver, or any other number of things. But, while Christ was here on earth, He made no attempt to do All Of The Things. He was a carpenter, amen. He willingly accepted that limitation of His existence, even though He was and is the One through whom all things are made and have their being. He, of all, had the right to do All Of The Things, and yet accepted the limitation of doing just one thing.
I want to know All Of The Things. I hate not knowing. I hate being in the dark. I hate not understanding. He, of all, had the right to know All Of The Things. And He gave it up. He accepted the limitation of not knowing–even to the point of being a baby, without knowledge. I hate being powerless; we in this world strive for power–even if it is only control over our own situations. He gave up His power to accept the limitation of, yes, being a baby. Dependent on others for food and warmth and comfort.
He knows, more than any of us, what All Of The Things really means. And yet He, more than any of us, worked out willing acceptance of limitations given to Him..
We look around us and see so many good things (although Christ has seen many more good things), and yet we were not called to all of the good things. Christ was called to be a carpenter, not to embody every single good skill that ever was. That we see good things does not mean we were called to them all. There is only a specific role to which we are each called. Even Christ, when here on earth, said that He would not do All Of The Things, in His bodily presence, but that “even greater things” would be seen and done in the lives of His disciples.
It is humbling and sobering to me to realize that many of the things I have been struggling with–in some ways, boiling down to trying to do it all–is actually reflective of the fact that, unlike Christ, I am grasping to be in very nature like God. I am not willing to accept being sent for a very limited role; I am trying to figure out how I can discipline myself and pull myself up by my own bootstraps until I can grasp all the things I want to grasp.
Overcoming obstacles, subjecting yourself to hardship until you achieve success, diligence and discipline. . sometimes we think of all of these things as very good things. Maybe even “godly” or “morally good” things. It’s hard to accept, for me anyway, the standing of it all on its head: It pleased God to severely limit His son, and to call Him to a very specific and narrow life on earth. He was not called to the study of every language known to man, and was not called to play every musical instrument ever created, and He was not called to set up a university, hospital and manufacturing plant. Not that any of those things are wrong. It’s just that God was pleased to have Him learn, only, the trade of carpentry.
And maybe not even a good carpenter. No offense. But I’m pretty sure He was called to devote a lot of His time and effort and seeking to things other than being a carpenter, and you’d think that if He was setting the mold of what a “good” human being was like, He’d be darn good at His chosen profession and career. I’ll have to go back and re-read the gospels, but the feeling I get is more that He got good enough at it to pay the bills, mostly, usually. And not only was that “good enough” it was also precisely what God wanted. Because apparently, the epitome of human existence is not about success or skills or a life that makes sense or being un-boundaried or clever or making something of yourself or retiring well off. We glibly say that God has not chosen the wise things of the world, and then promptly spend a lot of time wishing and desiring and trying to figure out how to be wise.
I am not really sure that I have gotten much of anywhere. I guess I am mostly contemplating, again, what it means to follow after Jesus. I guess that is a topic that one can never be finished with contemplating.