27 Jan 2015

Love shows us the details matter

I never had much patience for details.

I would finish your sentence (in my mind of course) which meant I pretty much stopped listening by that point. In school, I used to make notes and doodle and as the teacher's voice trails off, my mind would be busy with connecting what I heard with other stuff and maybe even have my left brain begin debating with my right! For meetings, I would draw up the agenda, and move the meeting along, satisfied that we had taken a helicopter ride across the terrain and had a big picture view, never mind the individual trees that may require attention.

I'm married to someone who has a head for details and feels much happiness when he knows the exact route, location and cost.
How long will this take?
Who will be there?
What's this costing us again?
His questions used to rile me as petty, nervous and unnecessary; and so the uneasy and often painful dance of opposites called Step-on-toes was a regular feature in our life.

Now, many years later, I pick up some new dance steps - and I realise how important the details can be; indeed how life-saving. When I listen to someone, I have to listen for details. In my coaching and mentoring, often what is most needful is muffled between the lines and need to be probed and surfaced. Only when the vital information is gleaned can the response be truly helpful. No point giving someone painkiller for a hemorrhage.

But there is a threat to this necessary life skill of noticing the details that count.

Today with hi-spped ethernet, we - naturally detailed or learning to be - can be so swept by the traffic on this colossal highway that we lose sight of what we stepped into the traffic for in the first place. One link here and another post there, one tweet here and another instagram there. The speed on this information highway I find my introvert, cautious, detail-oriented half losing his edge as infornever ever slows or pauses for you. Everything becomes a blur as we careen down the autobahn - making it hard for us to pick up any details! We can read stuff and jump to conclusions, tempted to 'like' something because we really want to be liked by our friends.

Our lives are a blur too as one task piles up on another and one moment morphs into another - we grasping and munching at life, hungry to suck the marrow out of it in our hyper-consumerism.
a baby is born. next.
a friend marries. next.
a family member is gone. next.
a vacation is over. next.
what's next....?
Always on the the next thing. And people, even our souls become vague. We hardly truly touch, feel, know anymore 

- until -

Humanity teeming at 7 billion. Such a huge mass. We become just Homo Sapiens, a species, surviving by the fittest - until -

God became man.
God an difficult, vague, faraway, abstract idea, reality ... becomes concrete, near, specific, detail.
He has a face, speaks a certain twang, has his laugh and his own eye-twinkle, perhaps a favourite dish or colour.
We may not know these bits much but there is enough to think of Jesus and get to know Him.

The early church looked to Jesus in a disciplined fashion. He was constantly in their consciousness. They devised a new calendar to reflect that life revolves around God's purposes. January is the season of Epiphany.

Originating in the Eastern Church, the Epiphany takes its name from the Greek epiphania, which speaks of a revelation and an awakening. It celebrates the divinity of Christ shining through his humanity when the Wise Men came, guided by a star; during his baptism, and at the first miracle when Jesus turned water into wine.* It's a beautiful notion. It is noticing the details. Is Jesus God? What details give that away?

When I think back on how I came to Christ and how I have grown; I can see moments of awakening and of deepening. Personal epiphanies where Christ becomes particularly striking and meaningful to me. The details of a faith being filled in on a large canvas.

And love - cannot happen in the abstract. It is concrete, specific, particular. Who wants to sing a general love song? No, the songs that reach our hearts are ballads of one man and one woman's trials and triumphs.

In our hurt and busyness, we use a very large brushstroke and apply general strokes
all men
all teens
all boys
all girls

But love is about 
this man. this teen. this boy. this girl. at this time

As we move in February where Valentines are bought and given, I am going to look at some specifics and details of love. Join me and share with me what strikes you as we go.


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