The Mind of the Maker: Week 3 (Chapter 5 & 6)
If you’re not reading with us, that’s ok… Each post shares one idea found in the text.
With little-to-no warning, the small, innocent piles of paper had grown into mounds of clutter. Remnants of late-night swim meets had developed their own little communities – hanging bags, crumpled damp towels, and stray coins left over from concession stand purchases were congregating in their respective corners of the kitchen. In response, we declared war. We spent the morning cleaning and de-cluttering. For a brief period of time, we had transformed chaos into order.
Clean, organized countertops greeted us as we entered the kitchen the following morning. The renewed sense of order brought with it freedom and a surge of energy. We had planned on making blueberry muffins for breakfast. But ideas were percolating. The previous day, the kiddos and their buddies in the neighborhood had created a lemonade stand. The money raised was for their friends, who were going on a mission trip to Mexico this summer. They wanted to do it again. Eureka – we could sell the muffins at the lemonade stand! The plan quickly came together, and within a few hours, a fair amount of money had been raised to donate to the cause.
I’m struck by how the joy from the morning’s lemonade stand was a direct result of the prior day’s work. We had been enjoying the relaxing pace of the summer. Freedom from the constraints of a busy schedule had slowly eroded order in the house. Yet on Friday, order (at least in my kitchen) had been regained. It was that sense of space and organization that provided the mental and emotional (not to mention physical) space needed for creativity. I wouldn’t have been up for the morning lemonade stand had we not buckled down to clean the day before. Order wasn’t something to escape – it was a venue through which we could experience freedom for more. (Although I’m also aware that for some, the constant compulsion to maintain order brings its own set of chains).
The Laws of the Universe are constant.
Physically – If I eat poorly and don’t exercise, eventually…
Intellectually – If I treat my mind to a steady diet of mindless entertainment and starve it of healthy, stimulating ideas, eventually…
Relationally – If I take more than I give, or am driven primarily by fear or control eventually…
Spiritually – If I live a life in which I decide what is true and insist (even subtly) on independence from my Maker, eventually…
We were all born with the fatal flaw of independence. We think we’re beating the system by living on our own terms. Yet ironically, it’s that very spirit which eventually brings our downfall – or at the very least, limits our capacity to live the full, rich lives for which we were created. We’ve all experienced the consequences. Some seasons of life are marked by catastophic downfall – like deeply wounded or severed relationships. Others are much more subtle – like the decreased capacity to create.
In Chapter 5 of The Mind of the Maker, Dorothy Sayers explores the relationship of free will and miracle as seen in the relationship between a playwright and his characters. A playwright who creates substantive and believable characters can’t be egotistical (enforcing his will and viewpoints upon the characters). The characters, however, have innate limitations.
“For the true freedom of Energy (activity) consists in its willing submission to the limitations of its own medium. The attempt to achieve freedom from the medium ends inevitably in loss of freedom within the medium, since, here as everywhere, activity falls under the judgement of the law of its own nature.” Dorothy Sayers p. 66
Our choice to clean the kitchen seems like a frivolous example when compared to the laws of the universe. Yet, the reality is that our lives are rarely defined by dramatic, life-altering events. Rather, we build our lives one small, seemingly insignificant choice at a time.
Do I clean the kitchen or become distracted with something more pleasurable?
Do I speak into lives of those around me based on what is in their best interest, or am I easily offended (or angered, or guarded)?
Do I defer to the Source of all wisdom, strength, and power, or continue to rely on my own resources?
Our spiritual heritage, inherited from our parents in the garden, is marked by a legacy of independence. We think that we know best. We live life accordingly. Yet if we dare to trust the heart of the Father, it is possible to live a life that more closely resembles the original design. A life lived more richly. More fully. More freely. His heart is not one of control, domination, or manipulation. It’s one of sacrifice.
“The business of the creator is not to escape from his material medium or to bully it, but to serve it; but to serve it he must love it. If he does so, he will realize that its service is perfect freedom. This is true, not only of literary art but of all creative art.” Dorothy Sayers p.66
And I’d add, true of all creative art – including The Creator’s masterpiece, of which He said, “It is very good.”
Consider your everyday choices.
Are there areas of life where you’re trying to “beat the cosmic system”?
Are there times when you’ve experienced greater freedom as a result of living within limitations?
Life is full of choices. And thankfully, the Father is full of grace.
It’s not too late to join us as we read through The Mind of the Maker this summer. We’d love to have you. The reading schedule has a bit of a break for the week of July 4th, so it would be a great time to catch up and join us!