Bill Ragsdale: Danger — God at work
This is about God’s creation which is on going even today. Creation didn’t stop in the book of Genesis which has two creation stories. There is the story of the creation of the world in six days and then God rested on the 7th and expected and expects us to rest. Then there is the story of the garden of Eden and Adam and Eve and the sin of separation from our Creator and becoming a know-it-all. We run into these types of people all the time, even acting that way ourselves from time to time. The first creation story is about that which is outside of us in the world and others. The second creation story is about us on the inside including our mind, heart and soul.
These stories do not contradict what has been learned from the factual and real picture of creation where we learn the world has evolved over millions and billions of years as time moves slowly along. It goes back, to mention a few, to the world of plants, the world of fish, and the world of dinosaurs that young children learn about these days and see exhibits in museums. Those older among us were never taught about dinosaurs at an early age or if we were taught about them maybe we were not paying attention at the time. This is looking at our world, speaking of it, and ourselves in it from a factual, historical, logical and scientific way. It is not opposed to the stories from the Bible about creation that give meaning, value, significance and purpose to life from God Almighty’s point of view. It is simply a different language writing/talking about the same thing, namely reality or what is before us, about us and in us.
What we have here are two different ways of looking at life as we move through time day in and day out. They are both sides of the same coin. Many of us from time to time fall into the trap of thinking we have to look at life from an either/or view rather than a both/and way. This would be like believing in either creation or evolution and vise versa.
Aren’t we like this using our minds and our lives in an either/or manner rather than a both/and way sometimes ? And when we do the either/or way of thinking for extended periods of time we burn out, cut others out, experience much stress, and often times wind up getting angry and resentful. This happens especially when we rely on self will and not God, when we don’t step out of the way for God and Christ to be in charge and guide us. We have forgotten humility. It is so easy to forget the words of Paul in Philippians 2:5 “Let the same mind be in you that was in Christ Jesus.” (NRSV)
So we work on using our minds in a both/and manner embracing both creation and evolution as time moves on. We see changes happening about us with new cures in medicine, new roads being built or old ones repaired, and our children/grandchildren growing daily, to name a few changes. At the same time God —- that mysterious Power — continues his creation/evolution in nature as the seasons come and go and we learn more about ourselves and the spirit within us. Indeed, we are not the same person we were 10, 20, or 30 years ago ! This is creation going on slowly as we evolve through time day by day month by month.
So why the word “danger” if God is at work ? “Danger” is like a warning to ourselves when we take God’s place and get stuck in that mode. This is when we are self-centered and prideful and have forgotten who is really in charge: that mysterious and creative Power that is in us, the universe, and all that is. Hopefully some wisdom has begun to develop and we have become wiser over the years.
“Danger” is also used to remind others that construction is in progress, it is a warning. We have grown older and have changed gradually over the years.“Danger” is also used because sometimes maybe, as others see us, our self-centeredness has been modified, or maybe with our motives examined pride and the deadly sins don’t creep in, take over, and we take the place of the creating Power that is God.
One of the most helpful poetical prayers to put us in touch daily with God our Creator is from Reinhold Niebuhr, it is the Serenity Prayer. Notice the first two words as it starts, this is the starting place for all that is, the ultimate Mystery.
God grant me the serenity
to accept the things I cannot change;
courage to change the things I can;
and wisdom to know the difference.
Living one day at a time;
Enjoying one moment at a time;
Accepting hardships as the pathway to peace;
Taking, as He did, this sinful world
as it is, not as I would have it;
Trusting that He will make all things right
if I surrender to His Will;
That I may be reasonably happy in this life
and supremely happy with Him
Forever in the next.
The Rev. William R. Ragsdale is Chaplain at the NC State Veterans Nursing Home, Salisbury