“We will so order our lives after the example of Christ…”
That’s the beginning of the prayer we offer to newly baptized children or just confirmed young people in our church. This phrase always catches me. It’s that word: order. Not just act like Christ. Not just dress up like Christ. Not just have Christ as a playmate or an imaginary friend. I am promising to order my life after His example. Whoa! Now there is a tall order.
I am pretty sure I have been getting this wrong. Normally, I place my order. I’d like this healing and this protection and this special consideration, and maybe toss in a few of these extras, if it’s not too much bother, Lord. I’m surprised I haven’t heard a resounding, “Would you like fries with that, ma’am?” from heaven.
But God’s not about giving orders, just establishing order. Re-ordering things that have fallen away or gotten out of line.
How about instead of giving orders I “be the order.” That is, take it upon myself to be this very thing, to actually personify the very thing I want to bring. Hey, writers do this all the time. It’s a figurative language technique where non-living or non-human things are given human characteristics.
- The trees clapped their hands
- Amber waves of grain
- The sun smiled
- The earth melted
- My winnings evaporated before my eyes
It’s a very powerful way to make a comparison. Effective. Gets you right there. Simile is such a weakling; metaphorical language lassos you. Gotcha!
So, why not “Be the change you wish to see in the world,” as Gandhi said. I can seek to be order, be healing, be patience, calm, wisdom. Not act like I’m the doctor or pretend that I can wait or put on a veneer of calm or an air of wisdom. Bolder than any of these, I can be them. Not impersonate these qualities, but personify them. Become them in my very person.
Then I will stop asking how can I establish order, stop trying to orchestrate the world around me and turn to the One in me who knows my circumstances and put me here as His emissary. By Be-ing what’s needed I will act differently because the one who’s behaviors I can control, I do: mine. They’re mine to manage and His to guide. I can Be because the Great I Am, is. I feel like He can work with this. Probably all my relationships are heaving a huge sigh of relief right about now.
This all sounds good until you have one of those days. Too little sleep and too many things pinging from too many directions have you scattered and turning in circles. I had to hang up on the guy calling with the quote I wanted because I couldn’t focus on one thing at once. Yes, that bad. The gibberish my brain was feeding me was so disordered, I dared not venture out into the world.
Just then, my handbag glared at me. It was sitting on the seat of my desk chair, snickering. The small compartments to the side had collapsed and were spilling their contents into the black hole of its middle. I could live with this except for one thing: in that black hole was my cell phone. UGHH!
Be the order.
Yes, Wendy, you can return this bag to its ordered self by supplying a few stitches to the side compartment.
Yep, I pulled out that sewing kit, squinted to thread that needle, applied a few running stitches and poof. A few, rare, domestic moments later, I had two functional pockets with cell phone, pens, business cards, and sticky notes all in their customary spots.
God knows I need order. But this isn’t something I need to seek elsewhere. God has made it available to me in Himself. As I complete the row of stitches I marvel at the order. I haven’t just sewn stitches, I’ve sown order. With God’s help, after the example of Christ, it’s a simple fix. Whoa! Who would have thought God with bother with something so terrestrial?
But hey, if a writer can bring life to story by giving human characteristics to non-human things, is it so far-fetched to think that God can bring His story to life by investing human things with Divine characteristics?
… perhaps we can do this …
With God’s help, we will so order our lives after the example of Christ… that all His children, surrounded by steadfast love, may be established in faith, and confirmed and strengthened in the way that leads to life eternal.