We took Jay's car to church today and he drove. This has become a highly unusual phenomenon in our two-person household. I decided on our 25th wedding anniversary that since he drove most of the first twenty-five years, I would drive the next twenty-five. The problem is, that neither one of us likes the way the other one drives. Think "Mr.Magoo vs. Mario Andretti," and you'll have a pretty good idea of things. For the record, Jay is not Mario.
Not only do I drive, we take my car. For two reasons. First, Jay is still driving the only brand new car we ever bought--which we purchased just a couple of weeks before I found out I was pregnant with Jessie. She just turned 21. It hasn't had a working air conditioner for over fifteen years.
The other reason is that we have this unspoken rule that whomever is driving has first say in radio stations. I don't follow that rule much, because Jay listens to ulcer inducing talk radio. Those guys make my blood pressure rise to unhealthy levels so it's really not good for my health to have it on. Ever. I like my tunes!
I just washed and vacuumed the RAV yesterday and since it looked like rain, decided it would be better to take Jay's car. Or what's left of it. Anyway, I didn't turn the radio station and there was some guy on there whose name was never mentioned during the short ride to church, and he was wondering what it is that compels people to be such risk takers.
I turned up the volume. I had just been wondering the same thing as I watched the movie about Antarctica that I mentioned in the last blog. As I was watching these men peer over the edge of a live volcano, or risk death to dive under the ice shelf, or live in a place you couldn't fly into or out of for seven months of the year, I was wondering what inner compulsion drives people to take such grave risks.
The man on the radio this morning mentioned Christopher Columbus climbing into three dinky little boats to get to the west by going east. Lewis and Clark searching for an overland route to the Pacific. Men attempting space flight and landing on the moon.
I was thinking of Steve Fosset the billionaire who has apparently lost his life trying to fly around the globe in a hot air balloon and the Wright brothers trying to understand the key to flight. The list goes on and on.
Of course, my first thought was that all this was just a reflection of us being created in the image and likeness of God.
Radio guy confirmed my thoughts. He read from Genesis 1:26-28. "Then God said, 'Let Us make man in Our image, according to Our likeness; let them have dominion over the fish of the sea, over the birds of the air, and over the cattle, over all the earth and every creeping thing that creeps on the earth.' So God created man in His own image, in the image of God He created them. Then God blessed them and God said to them, 'Be fruitful and multiply; fill the earth and subdue it; have dominion over the fish of the sea, over the birds of the air, and over every living thing that moves on the earth,'"
He went on to say that the Hebrew words translated subdue and have dominion, means to conquer or subjugate every living thing. Mankind was to overcome all obstacles and challenges. In other words, I realized, this desire, this compulsion, this need for people to conquer has been hard wired into our DNA.
It makes sense. God Himself is a risk taker. What bigger risk could He have possibly taken than to create beings with free wills? Unless it was the risk of offering salvation to those same people. Either way, an incalculable risk was involved.
He went on to say that our job is still to overcome. To the seven churches in Revelation God clearly stated the rewards to those who overcome.
To the church of Ephesus, the loveless church, He says, "To him who overcomes I will give to eat from the tree of life which is in the midst of the Paradise of God." (Rev.2:7)
To the church of Smyrna, the persecuted church, He says, "He who overcomes will not be hurt by the second death." (7:11b)
To Pergamos, the compromising church, He says, "To him who overcomes I will give some of the hidden manna to eat. And I will give him a white stone, and on the stone a new name written which no one knows except him who receives it." (2:17)
To the corrupt church in Thyatira, He says, "And he who overcomes, and keeps My works until the end, to him I will give power over the nations." (2:26)
To Sardis, the dead church, He says, "He who overcomes shall be clothed in white garments, and I will not blot out his name from the Book of Life; but I will confess his name before My Father and before His angels." (3:5)
To the faithful church in Philadelphia, "He who overcomes, I will make him a pillar in the temple of My God, and he shall go out no more. I will write on him the name of My God and the name of the city of My God, the New Jerusalem, which comes down out of heaven from My God. And I will write on him My new name." (3:12)
And lastly, to the lukewarm church of Laodicea, He says, "To him who overcomes I will grant to sit with Me on My throne, as I also overcame and sat down with My Father on His throne." (3:21)
At the dawn of creation, God brought everything into existence and told the crowning glory of that creation to overcome and conquer the created world. The fall hasn't changed that. We are still compelled to overcome and subdue things.
But after the fall, the picture changes. Now we are to overcome sin through the power of the Spirit. We are to conquer the deeds of the flesh the same way. We are to remain faithful to the One whose Spirit indwells us. We are to overcome the works of the evil one by the power of God and pray that, "His Kingdom come, His will be done, on earth as it is in heaven."
This life is only a training ground for the next. I've said it a million times, but it needs to be said a million more.
"Eye has not seen and ear has not heard, and which have not entered into the heart of man, all that God has prepared for those who love Him." (1 Cor. 2:9)
We can't even conceive of all that God has in mind for us to do in the life to come. But much of it will be determined by how well we allow Him to prepare us for the next life in this one.
It reframes everything. Suffering, disappointment, trials. Our attitude as we navigate this life, our utter dependence on Him to meet every single need, our treatment of His body, the hope that keeps on looking unto Jesus, these are the things that will determine the responsibility God entrusts to us in eternity.