Friday, April 19, 2013

Consequence Orientation Toward God


"It took me far too long to realize that lost years and relationships cannot be recovered, that damage done to oneself and others cannot always be put right, again..."


We all desire to be taken seriously. Seriously. This means that we acknowledge, and even embrace, the reality that there are consequences to our actions. One of my professors used to say that the wise man has a "consequence orientation." The wise man thinks hard about his actions because he knows that from those actions will flow consequences as sure as daylight follows dawn. The wise man thinks hard about the seeds he plants; he knows those seeds must grow; he knows, he must eventually reap them; he knows, God is not mocked, and a man reaps what he sows.

The path to a life of regret requires we ignore, day after day, impending consequences. Addicts are especially good at this. They refuse to face the fact that there are such things as facts: they refuse to face the mounting bill of their deeds which must, sooner or later, come due. It would be better to pay our bills on time. It would be better not to put off the consequences of our actions, but rather look them right in the face. To the degree we have acted wickedly, we have a bitter harvest to reap; let us reap it, and plant more promising flowers for the Spring.

Until we face the reality of consequences we cannot move on to any kind of joyful life. Why? A joyful life requires we face consequences. It is the very means that is needed to make the right kind of decisions.

It is hard to face consequences; much harder, in the long run, not to. The longer we refuse to face consequences, the longer we refuse real and relevant and lasting happiness. The longer we refuse consequences, the longer, in the deepest sense possible -- in the only sense that matters -- we refuse God. What is it to refuse God? It is to refuse He who is at the bottom of reality; He who IS; He who is Reality. As long as we refuse consequences, we are refusing to live in reality: the real world, yes -- but we are also refusing to live in Him who is reality. Such thoughts are too high for me, a sinner as I am; too high -- but such thoughts are true; such thoughts are reality.
PSALM 51:3-6
For I know my transgressions,
and my sin is ever before me.
 Against you, you only, have I sinned
and done what is evil in your sight,
so that you may be justified in your words
and blameless in your judgment.
 Behold, I was brought forth in iniquity,
and in sin did my mother conceive me.
 Behold, you delight in truth in the inward being,
and you teach me wisdom in the secret heart. 

On this theme of facing consequences, check out Flight with Denzel Washington. The movie is nothing like the trailer would lead you to believe; the ending comes with an electric shock that is liable to wake the dead.


From Kay Redfield Jamison, An Unquiet Mind:

My manias, at least in their early and mild forms, were absolutely intoxicating states that gave rise to great personal pleasure, an incomparable flow of thoughts, and a ceaseless energy that allowed the translation of new ideas into papers and projects... It took me far too long to realize that lost years and relationships cannot be recovered, that damage done to oneself and others cannot always be put right, again, and that freedom from control imposed by medication loses its meaning when the only alternative are death and insanity.

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