Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Stringing Pearls

Pearls is a catch all of what my friends, who are consistently more witty and wise than I am, have given me lately. The purpose of pearls is: “perfume and incense bring joy to the heart, and the pleasantness of one’s friend springs from his earnest counsel.” Proverbs 27:9.


PEARL 1: One from a lady who shares Bible study with me: she forwarded an article by Lorraine Murray for the March 16 AJC (Atlanta Journal-Constitution) following a class discussion on death (really a discussion on hope, that started with the reality of death).

Anyway Murray wrote about Lent and said, “It’s the soul which lives on forever though many give it little thought. They spend more time in spas than in sanctuaries. Let is a time to put our spiritual house in order. Forgive, pray, repent.”

I thought much about that over this season of Lent that is coming to a close. Connecting my thoughts to my time. What would it look like for, “my spiritual house” to be in order? I don’t think it’s in chaos, but would I claim order? While I am not in a season of doubt, I am in a serious season of distraction (thus the spa comment caught my attention).

What’s the answer to distraction? I don’t think its self determined discipline—not sustainable for me. Instead I think its remembering.
  • Remembering the purpose, the pain and the power captured in all of Holy Week.
  • Remembering those on whose shoulder’s I stand with a view that includes much freedom, and therefore much opportunity.
  • Remember God’s word, which sounds so much different than my own.

PEARL 2: A completely separate pearl from a completely different study group. I have a friend whose mother’s family is Japanese. She has cousins currently living in Japan. In the course of sharing the pain of the tsunami tragedy and resulting suffering she told me about gaman. It means a cultural patience, like perseverance.

Gamati is the highest compliment one can give a Japanese—the idea is to live through it—whatever it is.

Until very recently Japanese patients were not given their own personal diagnosis, only the family was. The patient was treated for whatever was the issue but the knowledge of the diagnosis was not considered helpful in maintaining gaman. It’s not a spiritual state, certainly not a Christian response as faith in Japan is rare.

For many Americans the first response includes a flurry of

o How did this happen?

o What are you/they/we going to do about this?

o Why and Fix It!

o Why and End It!

o Why and Whose responsible!

Scripture is full of mentions of long suffering (patience), perseverance, endurance—more of a gaman like quality I think to confronting that which is in fact out of control. The difference is that a Christian would not lean on cultural norms, but the working of the Holy Spirit, not just stay in control when things are out of control, but to not be defined by circumstance (or culture) but by faith in God.

1 comment:

  1. I would say our American culture completely lacks ghamin. Patience? Perseverance? What are those? But I agree that it is completely in line with scripture. Perhaps our lack of understanding this quality correlates to a lack of understanding of critical scripture passages. While we may ackowledge that we must "wait" on God, I would argue that we "wait" for Him to answer our prayers according to our own dictates, relying on our own strength instead of the Holy Spirit.

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Roswell, GA
Loves to find the answers to three questions of a sound Bible study: what does it say, what does it mean, what difference does it make?