Tuesday, February 19, 2013

Process vs. Event - Chapter 3

Chapter 3

“Sow a thought and you reap an action;
sow an act and you reap a habit;
sow a habit and you reap a character;
sow a character and you reap a destiny.“
Ralph Waldo Emerson

            I do realize that this book is contrary to so many self-help books that are out there. “Focus only on the moment.” “Take that first step; the rest will follow.” I do totally concur that finite thinking is needed to get out of a hard place. Sometimes you can’t even imagine the next step. The first one seems so impossible. However, if we choose to live life only looking at the next step, never taking time to look up and see the direction in which we are travelling, we could find ourselves in a much worse place than where we are now.

An event is like the number 4 or 9. By itself it really has no significance. But when you realize that 4 is the number between 3 and 5, and 9 is the number between 8 and 10, you begin to see the significance in respect to what came before and what will come after. A pattern emerges that can be useful to us. Another mathematical illustration is the Fibonacci sequence: 0, 1, 1, 2, 3, 5, 8, 13, etc. At first glance it looks like a random sequence of numbers. After further evaluation you find that adding the previous 2 numbers derives the next number in the sequence. Even that does not fully explain the significance of this particular series. You see, as the sequence approaches infinity, the ratio between any number and the next one in the series approaches 1.619, or what is called the Golden Ratio.

The Fibonacci numbers are Nature's numbering system. They appear everywhere in Nature, from the leaf arrangement in plants, to the pattern of the florets of a flower, the bracts of a pinecone, or the scales of a pineapple. The Fibonacci numbers are therefore applicable to the growth of every living thing, including a single cell, a grain of wheat, a hive of bees, and even all of mankind. Consider the following:

·                              The distance of the navel to the feet times 1.618 is the height.
·                              Distance of the fingertips to the elbow is 1.618 times distance of the wrist to the elbow.
·                             The width of the two front teeth over the height is 1.618.
·                             The length of the face to the width is 1.618.
·                             The windpipe divides into a long and a short bronchi. The long bronchi is always 1.618
                times the short bronchi.

This is not a treatise on mathematics. However, you can clearly see that the position a number has in a given sequence gives a whole new meaning to the number.

The same is true for events. An isolated event cannot be fully understood or appreciated until you look at it in the context of the process. The Christian life is a process. Sure, there are events along the way. Being born again is an event. Being baptized is an event. Taking communion is an event. Prayer is an event. It is only when the events become part of the process that we begin to find fulfillment and growth.

The ultimate goal of a Christian is to become Christ-like. That is not an event. There is no experience at the altar that will make you Christ-like; it can only bring you a step closer in the process. We do not live the Christian life by seeking “events.” It is only when we commit to the process of allowing the Holy Spirit to “direct our steps” that we will find ourselves on the path to becoming like Jesus. It is a daily choice of taking up our cross.

For the most part, events just happen. That’s the modern culture’s mantra: live and let live. Go from one event to the next hoping that each encounter will somehow be better than the one before and will eventually lead us to a better life. That is not the way this world works.

Look at the laws of thermodynamics. If left alone things tend to degrade, to slow down, to die! The only way for things to improve is for energy to be applied. When that energy is applied in a particular direction objects respond accordingly. They go where they are directed, at the speed in which they are motivated to move.

This is life as a Christian. By allowing the Holy Spirit to “move” us in the direction that He desires for our life, we wind up in a better place than if we had just drifted along without purpose.

This is the life of process! Events still happen; things like prayer, worship, fellowship, and Bible study. We still have life encounters; some planned, some not planned. But as we journey through the events we need to take time to pause, reflect, repent, adjust, and adapt to the Lord’s purpose and continue the process of becoming like Christ.