“It matters little where a man may be at this moment; the point is whether he is growing,” wrote 19th century author George MacDonald. Unfortunately, many in our culture have chosen to write with a different stylus.
Our culture hungers for resolution in its consumption. We want to display the trophy. We want to own the wardrobe. We want to write the status update that cements our identity. Too often we want our lives to sit neatly like a well-placed book on a well-dusted, scrupulously organized bookshelf.
The same spirit often directs our spiritual life. We want everything to appear clean, neat and orderly. And so we aren’t satisfied with unanswered questions. We aren’t satisfied with feeling misplaced or with living in a restless state of want. And we are fearfully offended when the beliefs of others don’t line up with our clear vision of truth, when their lives don’t refract our corresponding expectations.
Even if our colorful icons displayed on our smart phones are arranged with the same clarity and precision as our closets, does it necessarily follow, too, that our souls must look the same?
If Jesus’ disciples had been obsessed with icons and apps, particularly those in the heart, to the degree we are today, how would He have addressed the issue? Would he have thrown Peter’s iPhone against a rock? Tossed Andrew’s Droid into the sea?
I imagine Jesus carefully removing Peter’s phone from his pocket, however, and quietly hiding it in another room. I imagine Him holding Andrew’s phone and scrambling the display and settings.
“But, Lord, why would you do this to us? Messing with our communication devices only gets in the way of doing Your work. Little things like this distract us from serving You. Why didn’t You simply say what You wanted us to do?”
Jesus knows they are worried about the wrong things. But He still hands back Peter’s phone, resets Andrew’s settings. But somewhere in that transaction, Jesus finds a chance to peer into each of their eyes.
“It matters little what you are holding at this moment,” Jesus answers. “The point is whether you are obeying.”
Obedience will sometimes complicate our lives and throw our closets and screens into disarray. However, obedience will always simplify our lives — by answering the one question which matters most to Him.
MacDonald writes, “I find the doing of the will of God, leaves me no time for disputing about His plans.”