What never ceases to amaze me is how differently the human family experiences life. And how much we adjust to what we regard as “normal” in a million-and-one different ways.
Helen and I have visited several developing countries and often observed that the people there (in general of course) are arguably even more contented than Australians are with their lot in what is once again “the Lucky Country”. At home too, we have neighbours for whom life is pretty tough and rough by any standards, but they don’t come to us asking, “How do you do it?”
In many ways we are seen as a model couple who have brought up a model family. Helen and I each hail from stable and genuinely Christian homes of large families (she’s one of 9, I’m one of 5). Helen and I have loved, worked and served God and people as a team effort in a way that is the envy of many – but again, people don’t actually seem to envy us. Our foursome grew up without rabid rebellion or “getting into trouble”, all seem to have married into stable relationships, they are each in their own way and with their partners practising Christians and all are employed in ways that show they have the make-up of their parents. What else could we pray for!
Today our church pastor challenged the caricature of the Christian faith that is held by too many Christians. The Reformed tradition (from which I hail) does not (or should not) state that “we can do nothing and God must do it all”. The Arminian stream of the church does not (or should not) portray the Christian life as picking up salvation from a supermarket shelf – with God taking care of the checkout payout. Actually, the Christian life is both 100% God’s gift and 100% our responsibility. Well said, Dawie!
This profound although mathematically illogical truth does not tell me why I am so content and grateful, and can feel so helpless and frustrated when I see a homeless man, a burnt out woman and a “behaviourally challenged” child. Surely it is not simply a matter of God’s choice and my choices? Surely it is more than living under a mystery charm, Karma, or just good luck?
My life’s work (and Helen’s) with people has been motivated by our desire to serve God as Jesus did, to show and tell others what God means to us, and to make a small difference to the lives of those with whom we have been privileged to touch base.