follow: lent in pictures day 16
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I told Dan a few months ago that I struggle to conceive of discerning God’s call as something other than being blindfolded and sent into a high-hedged labyrinth, at the center of which my future sits. There are any number of paths I could take only to find myself at a dead end. There’s one right answer, one right way, and I’d better be pretty darn good at solving labyrinths if I hope to reach the right end.
But last night we listened to a podcast of Andy Crouch speaking at Calvin College’s January Series a few years back. He was talking about power and about using power in a way that creates more power, rather than in a way that assumes there’s a limited amount of power and so diminishes that of another. But he also said something that struck me as helpful for thinking about vocational discernment.
He noticed that in the creation story in Genesis, most of the commands are fairly relaxed and inviting. The grammar of “Let there be light” is far more welcoming than that of “Light up!” Let there be, as if God is inviting his creation to participate in the creative process. God doesn’t instruct creation in a particular method of bringing about light. He just wants it to go from darkness to light.
And even when God commands more directly, the verbs are open: Be fruitful. What kind of fruit, God? Multiply. How would you like us to multiply? Lattice? Grid? Long multiplication?
God doesn’t specify. He again invites us into the process, allows us the power of creativity, ushers us into not a labyrinth but a meadow where we can play and run and grow things and make forts and birdwatch. Again, there are any number of paths we can pursue through the meadow, but this time, there aren’t dead ends. Everything is open.
I’m learning that God isn’t interested in labyrinths and predetermined paths and punishing us for not finding the right one. Instead he likes creativity and trial and error, he likes freedom and play, he likes choices and opportunities. He wants us to participate in discernment, not by feeling the walls of the labyrinth but by collecting rocks and catching butterflies and tending flowers.
And here’s a lovely little song from my childhood that I imagine we and God would all sing as we took to the meadow:
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