One room ahead of the vacuum cleaner

June 6, 2010

When I pull the vacuum cleaner out of the closet, if Poppy (little gray cat) is in the room, she leaves.  Quickly.  She stays far, far away until I am finished.  If Lily (big gray cat) is in the room she will wait until she is sure that she is the next to be vacuumed, then she ambles (rather hastily, but amble is her top speed) out of the room, and she tries to stay one room ahead of the vacuum.  Taylor (handsome gold and white cat) will stay where he is, scowl if I get to close, and ask me why I am interrupting his nap.  If he gets too agitated he might move to the other end of the sofa, or bed or floor, whatever he is laying on, but he won’t inconvenience himself too much.

I’m trying to figure out why human behavior is so often more like Poppy than Taylor.  Why some of us, with faith as well as without, are so easily frightened, why some are nonchalant, and others look at a fearful situation as an opportunity to assert one’s authority over circumstances.   Why are some of us unfazed by seemingly earth-shattering experiences, while others of us crumple from a bad outcome on American Idol. (Personally I think the program American Idol is an experience to be avoided like a vacuum cleaner.)   Some, in the same family react to stress, joy, or, just plain life, totally differently from their siblings.  There must be something to all this birth-order stuff.

And if it’s not frightening situations, most of us try to stay one room ahead of the vacuum cleaner is other big, noisy situations.  Dealing with discipline; dealing with conflict; dealing with love.  (Often one and the same since we are rarely in conflict with those with whom we are indifferent.)  Some of us have clear paths we take, from which we do not deviate; and others of us chart a new course with ever single situation we encounter.

So how do we develop God-like attributes?  He is slow to anger, abounding in love, compassion, faithfulness, graciousness, and power.  I think if we could be like that, the vacuum would not frighten us, nor would most anything else.  Alas.  If we could only think like Jesus.  Oh, yea!  We can!

“For who has known the mind of the Lord that he may instruct him?” But we have the mind of Christ. Corinthians 2:16

Therefore prepare your minds for action;  be self-controlled; set your hope fully on the grace to be given to you when Jesus Christ is revealed .  I Peter 1:13.

So God’s Grace will get us most of the way there.  But, most of us think, “I would need the wisdom of Solomon to make those kind of choices every time.”  And we would be right.  Thankfully there is James 1:5 and the promise of all the wisdom we need.

I think (And there is a good deal of conjecture here, because I certainly have not arrived.) for most of us the answer (once again) revolves around trusting, asking, receiving, and appropriating the help God has already promised us! Why else would he say, “Don’t be afraid!” so often?  Why else we he say, “I can do all things…”    I think, if we take the time to pray through, these tough times might not be as tough as we make them.  And we would discover that the vacuum cleaner is just a big noisy…that most big, noisy situations can be dealt with with the grace and power of God if we ask for it.


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