Do you ever feel like you’ve followed the instructions and it still doesn’t work? I have tried to become a master bread-baker the last 7 months. I am getting pretty good (thanks Kelley and Rebekah). But this weekend, I tried homemade pizza dough. Guess what? It didn’t rise. Boo.
It makes me think of how my girlfriends and I have talked about our faith lately. We read a book. Get some ideas. Feel like, “this is the way to do it!” Try. Fail. Cry. Give up.
The more I reflect on said failure, the more I want to become a Master Builder and create a new solution. Hopefully I don’t step on too many toes when I say the following, but I can always claim residence in Cloud Cuckoo Land.
I chose to intentionally follow Jesus when I was a sophomore at Hamline in 1996. I read books on godly ways to date back then by the brilliant Elisabeth Elliot. When I walked into my 20’s, I read books about how to be a godly single woman. Many of my male friends were reading how to be a real, godly man. Now that I’m a parent, I can choose from books about how to pray like a real, godly mom. I can read about how to raise my boy the way God wants me to. That doesn’t even scratch the surface of all the books about how to witness, serve, fight injustice and even cook according to the Bible.
What I notice is that most of these “how-to” books are similar the Lego Movie’s portrayal as instructions. When we try so hard to follow “that” example, it leads to bondage. We focus so much on doing it right we forget everything else. And I’ll also be bold enough to say simply following the instructions is easier. Yes, I said easy. My 6-year old can follow them and build a castle, car or school house.
I think the solution is not necessarily found in Cloud Cuckoo Land, where everyone makes their own rules, unable to be a teammate because they are stuck on their own originality. I’m not into universalism. We see the failure of that in the movie and in our culture.
But nor is it found in just obeying the rules. Jesus had some things to say to people who were into following the instructions of His day.
Instead, Jesus offers us Himself. The Creator of the clouds, cuckoos like you and me, our sons and our wheat. He really wants to talk with us and have us listen.
When Brian and I have been filling out adoption paperwork and grant requests, we often have to answer questions about our philosophy on parenting. We share that our job is to teach our kids to listen for God’s voice and then pray they obey.
The other day Calista cheated in Candyland (she snuck the Princess and Lolly, the best cards, on the top of the pile). I talked with her about how sometimes we feel that voice inside or just a general feeling of, “I shouldn’t do this…” I believe that’s God speaking to us.
Sometimes it’s a loud voice, like your kids screaming for attention while you’re playing on your phone. Sometimes it’s quiet, in the middle of the night, keeping you up. Sometimes it comes from reading the Bible. Watching a sunset. Listening to your friends. Or watching a movie.
The trick is listening. How do you listen well?