Wednesday, June 24, 2009

35) God comes first

"The most beautiful system of sun, planets and comets, could only proceed from the counsel and dominion of an intelligent and powerful Being. This Being governs all things, not as the soul of the world, but as Lord over all; and on account of His dominion, He is wont to be called Lord God." Sir Issac Newton

In a world that is becoming more and more materialistic, the very existence of God is questioned. Unlike Sir Issac Newton, one of the super-greats in the pantheon of scientists, who had no doubts, some of us tend to rely on our expanding capabilities
and on the marvels worked by science and technology, to arrive at a conclusion that perhaps we could get along without God, even if He did exist. Indeed, the beliefs that relate to God are numerous. Bertrand Russell, a Philosopher and professed atheist, had a belief which he expressed with no ambiguity: "Unless you assume a God, the question of life's purpose is meaningless". And the Jewish girl, in a Warsaw Ghetto, who escaped the Germans during the war, wrote: "I believe in God, even when He is silent". To those who ask for logical answers to questions on God and Religion, we have only one answer: God and Religion are not against reason, but some parts of both are beyond the grasp of reason. How can we empty the ocean into our cupped palms? How much more difficult it is for finite capabilities to comprehend Infinite Wisdom and Love? How can a five year old understand Atomic Physics? The fact that he does not understand it, does not make it a lie. As for us and our children, there is no debate. God is the center of our lives.

In posts 9,10,11, we referred to Parental Instructions. We shall now expand on that subject, beginning with the first and most important instruction - God comes first.

Charles H.Spurgeon told this story of his grandfather, who was a poor Minister attached to a small Church. The one cow he owned had died and his ten children were without milk. His wife asked him: "What will we do?" He said: "I cannot tell; but I know what God will do. We must have milk for the children and He will provide". The next morning a man brought Spurgeon's grandfather a gift of 20 pounds, from the
Minister's Relief Fund, even though help had not been requested. A few days before,
the Relief Committee had divided the funds for distribution and an amount of 5 pounds was left over. One of the members suggested: "There is a poor Mr Spurgeon down in Essex. Suppose we send it to him?" "We'd better make it ten", said the Chairman, "and I'll give another five". That made it fifteen. Another member added 5 to make it 20. These men knew nothing of Spurgeon's dead cow, but God knew. The old Minister firmly believed in what someone confidently wrote: "When the Lord leaves you at the edge of the cliff, trust Him; either He will catch you when you fall, or He will teach you to fly".

Honestly, how deeply do we believe in God's love for us, which F.B.Meyer likened to the 'Amazon River flowing down to water a single daisy'. Do we believe that He is LOVE itself; that His mercy is without end; that His power goes well beyond our imagination; that we can anchor our lives in the Sea of His Love? When we know that,
we will teach our children to believe in what we believe. Then they will believe.

Why is it that we profess faith in God, yet do not live God-centered lives? Perhaps our perceptions of God are different from who He really is. Some of us see Him as a Taskmaster and Tyrant and therefore live in terror; some perceive Him as one who has to be appeased with gifts, to win favors; and some see Him as the Genie whom they want to command, to actualize their wishes. Often what we ask Him will do us harm. He sees it; we do not. Therefore He chooses to protect us from the consuming flames of avarice and selfishness. Because He does not grant all our wishes, He falls out of favor, and we replace Him with false gods - Power,Passion,Pleasure,Possessions. When we lift this poisoned chalice to our expectant lips, we must know that slow death awaits us. Paradoxically, even when we forsake Him, He follows us and tries to restore us to safety. The reassuring words of William Cowper tell us why: "Man may dismiss compassion from his heart, but God never will". What a God we have!

The trouble with many of us is that we fashion a God to match human likeness. We tend to project human limitations on Him. Since we harbor grudges and are unforgiving, we imagine He acts in the same way. We misuse the gift of 'free will' to turn against Him; and when things go wrong we accuse Him of neglect. Must a good God suffer at out hands because we lack understanding and charity; because it is easy to pass a verdict on Him? If only we admitted our folly and acknowledged the real loving and merciful God, we would have more meaning in our lives. Our children would see in us examples they would want to emulate.

So, how do we relate to God? Through surrender and contrite prayer. Someone gave surrender a beautiful touch, when he wrote: "When you have nothing left but God, you become aware that He is enough". And Samuel Taylor Coleridge gave us a rich insight into prayer, when he wrote: "He prayeth best, who loveth best". Love whom? God and our fellowmen; two sides of the same coin. So, when we pray and when we teach out children to pray, we cannot forget 'others'. When our children learn to include others in their prayers, they will learn to respect and serve others, starting with those at home.

A student visiting his popular classmate saw a home-made plaque in his room, with the words: 'I am third'. Asked to explain, he said: "That is my motto. It means God comes first; others are second; and I am third". Certainly his parents taught him a lesson that endeared him to God and those around him.

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