Sunday, November 9, 2008
"...it might be true that the sun rises regularly because he never gets tired of rising. His routine might be due, not to a lifelessness, but to a rush of life. The thing I mean can be seen, for instance, in children, when they find some game or joke that they especially enjoy. A child kicks his legs rhythmically through excess, not absence, of life. Because children have abounding vitality, because they are in spirit fierce and free, therefore they want things repeated and unchanged. They always say, "Do it again"; and the grown-up person does it again until he is nearly dead. For grown-up people are not strong enough to exult in monotony.
But perhaps God is strong enough to exult in monotony... It may not be automatic necessity that makes all daisies alike; it may be that God makes every daisy separately, but has never got tired of making them. It may be that He has the eternal appetite of infancy; for we have sinned and grown old, and our Father is younger than we." --G. K. Chesterton
I ran across the above quote in an excerpt from G. K. Chesterton's Orthodoxy. What an excellent description of the pure, sweet energy of love and life when it is not beaten down by decay, sin, and sorrow! There is an obvious connection to such Scriptures as Matthew 18:3 ("...unless you are converted and become like children, you will not enter the Kingdom of Heaven"), but I wonder if this ability to take delight in endless repetition goes beyond merely youthful? Perhaps the adult longing for newness is more a symptom of our fallen nature than we realize. Just maybe our penchant for diversity is not a healthy appreciation of variety, but a sign of instability and restlessness of spirit. I believe that our distress at sameness stems not from the repetitiveness of the event but from a failure of concentration.
Consider James 1:2-4; "Consider it all joy, my brethren, when you encounter various trials, knowing that the testing of your faith produces endurance. And let endurance have its perfect result, so that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing." Is it my imagination, or does the word, "endurance" have some connotation of drudgery? Do we not merely endure the ordinary far more than the extraordinary?
When initially reading these verses, I thought of these trials as being major events--change or testing on a grand scale. But what is more trying to the human spirit than monotony? Personally, it is not in the moments of great adversity that I find my faith most sorely tested, but in the day-to-day tedium of routine and repetition. The same old dishes, the same old faces, the same old scenery... Often, I fear, it is not our routine that has become tiresome but our attitudes. We trudge through glorious moment after glorious moment of our lives with dulled senses; soaking up the granduer and yet emanating the stale odor of death. However, my children positively revel in each reiteration of yesterday! They are alive in the moment, delighting still in the color of the dish or the depth of the scene. All of life is fresh and new to them. They have not yet been so damaged by sin as to grow bored with the sheer wonder of breathing in and breathing out.
What if we could recapture that quality? It is my prayer that each person who reads this will be granted the grace to see the beauty in sameness. Indulge in monotony today! Be alive and present in each task you undertake, each moment of your routine. After all, it is not the variety of color that makes the maple tree stunning in autumn, but the blaze of matching yellow-gold leaves. Our magnificent God, Himself, is steady and unchanging (see Malachi 3:6, James 1:17). So we see there is resplendence in monotony; it is up to us to take the time to relish it.
Scripture quotations are from the ESV® Bible (The Holy Bible, English Standard Version®), copyright © 2001 by Crossway Bibles, a publishing ministry of Good News Publishers. Used by permission. All rights reserved.