Category: Reflections

Born to Trouble

In May I stayed the night in Venice before a flight. I was walking the streets from San Marco to the bus station when I heard this terrible shriek of pain. I looked up and a seagull had caught a swallow and was killing it. I wanted to throw something at the seagull. I couldn’t get the shriek out of my mind. It over-shadowed my evening.

I came home and was watching a family of birds at my feeder. Out of the corner of my eye I saw the neighbor’s cat and before I could blink a baby bird was carried away in cat jaws.

I sat on a Spiritual Direction call as tears dripped through the telephone line. Trouble. Pain. Loss.

And these words from N.D. Wilson came to mind:

Heat rises. Man is born to trouble. When Job lifted his face to the Storm, when he asked and was answered, he learned that he was very small. He learned that his life was a story. He spoke with the Author, and learned that the genre had not been an accident. God tells stories that make Sunday school teachers sweat and mothers write their children permission slips excusing them from encountering reality.

Lions are fed. Every day, animal stories end in those jaws. Leviathan snorts fire. Unicorns won’t plow. What good is a story without struggle? What good is a plot without danger? How is a character’s mettle tested? How is it made in the first place?

Nails are forged for pounding. Man is born to trouble. Man is born for trouble. Man is born to battle trouble. Man is born for the fight, to be forged and molded—under torch and hammer and chisel—into a sharper, finer, stronger image of God.

Eve had done nothing wrong. Our mother wandered the garden, doing no evil. She and her lover existed in Paradise. What had she done to deserve a dragon? A serpent? A forked tongue and lying eyes laboring to get her killed?

She had been born. Her life was a story. She was born—even when pure—for trouble.

Ponder this. Adam. Our unfallen father arrives on the scene to discover what exactly?

Adam was given the world and a garden and all manner of fruit to eat. He was given every beast to tend and name. He was given a wife and lover traced by God’s own fingers—a muse to make Helen of Troy put on sunglasses and a hoodie in shame. Fairy tale. And then, having done no wrong at all, he was given a dragon, a wife who had been deceived, who had believed that God was a petty liar and therefore chosen to defy Him. Eve had stepped directly under the curse of the Almighty, smack into thou shalt surely die. Adam, still having done no wrong, had been given loss. He had been given trouble with a capital T. And like every person who has been given a beating heart and breathing lungs and seeing eyes and hearing ears and fingers and thumbs and thoughts and an entirely unasked-for existence in the flowing stream of history on this space-time stage, he had been given a choice.

As the sparks fly upward, Eve was born to a moment in the garden when she faced a dragon spewing lies.

As the sparks fly upward, Adam was born to a moment when his garden was invaded by a deceiving dragon and he learned that his love was under a death curse.

The plot hinged. The past was ready to be written in forever stone. The future waited to swirl up or down, left or right.

Death By Living – N. D. Wilson

The future waits for us to choose. How will we live in the midst of turmoil and trouble. Some days lions are fed. Other days God sends an angel to close their jaws. Sometimes, having done nothing in particular to earn it, we are given trouble. We are given choice.

The plot hinges. What will you choose? What will I choose?

Can I worship in the echo of the screaming swallow?

Will I trust the Word of the Lord when a serpent out to get me killed comes crawling into the garden?

The plot hinges…

I suspect I’ve quoted this book more than any other book.
It’s impact on me can’t be measured. Check it out:
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