I have a bonsai plant that I nurtured for several years. Its nurture wasn’t particularly hard but it did mean I had to pay attention to the water level and pruning and bugs and weeds. I keep several bonsais. They remind me of the mountains but mainly I keep them because they teach me. They teach me to be patient and remind me that caring is not hard but takes a steady hand over time. I can train an oak bough to bend if I do so gently. And though I can persuade an oak branch to bend, I can never make it into a willow. My long work on this particular bonsai was for naught when I neglected it for a couple of weeks this fall and never saw the spider mites that took it over. Nurture is a long work, however easy it is – “Oh, look at them. They are such nice kids,” did not happen over night. “Why in the world would he do that?” also has a history.
I hate to bring up what are now, for some, fading memories of the terrible December day in Connecticut but, truly, it is essential that I do. The world is not learning and we Christians are not standing up with the answer. Amidst the endless calls for justice – a place for blame - and the tired pleas once again for gun control and more police in schools, we must reconsider our lives of independence and power and immediacy as those 15 families are forever reconsidering their lives without ones held so dear.
The world has cried out that if there is a God then He certainly does not love us any more. Or, if there could be a God, truly God – big and strong - then evil would not happen. He must not exist. What the world (and many of us if the truth be told) wants is a genie-god to fix evil but leave us alone.
What the world does not want to hear is that the answer to the terrible crimes we have witnessed in the last few years is the same answer to our own lack of faith and the answer to the diminishing following of Jesus Christ and the answer to our children leaving the faith, following the world. The answer is not a big dramatic heave-ho as we all are apt to do and which feels good and productive and for which we can hold our breath long enough to do before we get back to life. The answer, rather, must be a “long obedience in the same direction” as Peterson has titled his book. The answer is to show up not incidentally but every day for a lifetime. There is no answer truly for anything except to sit daily with God. To be with Him long enough every day for His presence to wash away the defilement of our own nature and to dissolve the filth that clings to our hearts from our TV and movie driven culture. The answer is to sit with God long enough every day so that the corruption tugging on us from the world, bidding us to be like the world is but a pestering snag. The answer is listening and hearing from God His plan… for today… for you. Then taking that plan to the street.
The answer is someone simply embracing their God-job in the life of a man named Adam Lanza. This is the answer for December 14ths. The answer is us. We are Luther’s “little Christ’s. You do so, so much. Yet we must show up even more dedicatedly in God’s presence every single day and then be in the world, as we are told to be, in a long obedience as Christ’s feet and hands no longer nailed to the cross.