Lent with Julian of Norwich #30 – Missing God

I understood this; man is changeable in this life, and falls in to sin through frailty and being overcome; in himself he is weak and foolish and also his will is overwhelmed, and during this time he is in turmoil, and in sorrow and misery, and the cause is blindness – because he does not see God; for if he saw God continually, he would have no harmful feelings, nor any kind of prompting to the craving that is conducive to sin.

Julian of Norwich. Revelations of Divine Joy; Long Text, Chapter 47.

There was a Father who had many children, and he went to the oldest and said: ’I want you to help me out in the garden today’. The child worked hard with his father the whole day. Later the father called a second child, who was younger, and again a third. By mid-afternoon all the children were engaged with the exception of a two-year-old toddler that just played. At the end of the day, the father called all his children together, including the toddler, gave them an ice-cream and sat talking and laughing with them all. ’Jean Varnier; Community & Growth, 1989

If we had always lived in complete seclusion, I wonder what sins we would commit. We couldn’t be jealous, as we wouldn’t know what competition was.

I love this snippet of wisdom from John Varnier’s classic, Community and Growth. None of the children could care less that some had done more or worked longer than others, or that some were older, younger etc. All are simply delighted that they are sat with their father, eating ice cream. So much of our sin comes from the comparison of ourselves with others, and the jealousy or fear that results. Richer, more attractive, more popular, more able etc etc. It’s probably been the source of more wars and bloodshed than any other human emotion.

And yet, as Jesus taught in the parable of the workers in the garden, it’s not what we deserve that should drive us, but the gratitude of what we have been given. Sin is often described as the ‘falling short’ of God’s perfection. But what about the falling short of simply how he sees us? The latter is surely the precursor to the former. For when we see God, we recognise his love, which provides us the only safe place from sin.

Categories: Devotional, Lent 2019

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