There is a story about this ant colony that had sprung up in a fallow field on a farm. During the time the field was “resting” from planting season, the ant colony thrived. But one day the Farmer walked out into his fallow field and determined it was time to plant that part of the farm again. The timing was right for the field to be plowed. The soil was rested. The temperature was perfect. The rain had been sufficient. The fertilizer was applied. And the Farmer was determined to make this plot of land productive again.
But He noticed the ant farm, and, try as He might, He simply couldn’t convince the ants to move. Every attempt by the Farmer was met with stubborn resistance. The ants interpreted every attempt by the Farmer as either an angry outburst, or a threat to their “freedom.” They steadfastly refused to heed the warnings of the Farmer of the impending necessary change coming to the field. After all, it was the Farmer’s field. The ants had simply been allowed to stay there.
The Day of the Plowing came and the ants were still going about their business as if nothing were going to happen. As the Plow moved closer to the colony, the ground trembled, the sound of the plowing was deafening. And the ants screamed at the Farmer “How could You? You will destroy us all! Why are You so angry?” The Plow destroyed the colony, and the few ant survivors limped away from their destroyed home. Years later some of the ancestors of those surviving ants from the Plowing, wrote about the Day the Angry Farmer destroyed their colony and they warned all the other ants to beware lest the Farmer ever become angry again! Of course, the Farmer wasn’t angry at all. He had done everything He could short of violating the ants’ freedom and forcing them to move. He determined not to violate their freedom as that would have been a more horrible fate than even their destruction, because it would have forever enfeebled their true progress. But the ants misunderstood again and slandered the Farmer as an Angry Farmer. They still remained in their immaturity and they locked themselves away in their souls to a perpetual spiritual infancy because they named the Farmer “angry” when actually He was Loving the whole time.
Perspective changes everything.
In today’s Scripture Lesson we read about the Lord God becoming “sorry” He had made man because humanity had become completely evil in all their imaginations. As an aside, isn’t it interesting that the wickedness of man begins in the mind and then flows into the behavior? There is a lesson here in how to reverse that pattern, if you are wise.
The passage is Genesis 5:32-6:8. Lot’s of questions to be answered in this passage, but I want you to consider the reporting of Moses concerning God’s “feelings” concerning His creation. Moses describes God as being “sorry” He had made man, and that mankind had come to “grieve” God because of their wickedness. Then God said He would “destroy” humanity because they were now their own worst enemies and the Flood was the result.
Let’s look together at the passage:
After Noah was five hundred years old, Noah became the father of Shem, Ham, and Japheth. When men began to multiply on the face of the ground, and daughters were born to them, the sons of God saw that the daughters of men were fair; and they took to wife such of them as they chose. Then the LORD said, “My spirit shall not abide in man for ever, for he is flesh, but his days shall be a hundred and twenty years.” The Nephilim were on the earth in those days, and also afterward, when the sons of God came in to the daughters of men, and they bore children to them. These were the mighty men that were of old, the men of renown.
The LORD saw that the wickedness of man was great in the earth, and that every imagination of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually. And the LORD was sorry that he had made man on the earth, and it grieved him to his heart. So the LORD said, “I will blot out man whom I have created from the face of the ground, man and beast and creeping things and birds of the air, for I am sorry that I have made them.” But Noah found favor in the eyes of the LORD.
Words are powerful things, dear ones. They are icons for ideas, concepts, and perspectives. But we must always remember that our perspective is always hindered by our limitations of time and space. These limitations don’t make our perspective “wrong” as they make them incomplete and, usually, too “small.” This is why we read in the Scriptures the reporting that God was “angry” or He was “grieved” and “sorry” as if the Lord is changeable and fickle. The danger in reading too much into these reports about God from we, humans, is to fall into the trap laid for us by the evil one to lose the ultimate Truth that God’s ways are not our ways, and His thoughts are higher than our thoughts (see Isaiah 55:8-9). Had God not brought the Flood on the earth and brought an end to the increasingly downward spiral of wickedness in humanity, He would be guilty of allowing the perpetual sickness to continue growing in humanity. He would have been unloving to stop the “cancer” growing in man’s heart.
Today, do you misinterpret God’s loving correction as “anger” toward you? It is understandable, but it flows from an immature notion about God that you have power over His emotions and actions by your behavior. God is free AND He is loving. This reality trumps all other perspectives in your mind and life. Period. So, during this season of Lent, let us impose on ourselves the wisdom of the Fast, and exercise our freedom to choose purposeful spiritual maturity over the poverty of a perpetual spiritual kindergarten, and let us “grow up” into Christ and become “like” Him, which has always been God’s ultimate plan for us all. This is how to be Orthodox on Purpose!
P.S. Join me this Sunday night as we explore the powerful spiritual discipline of Hesychia, the Way of Silence, or better, watchfulness and stillness. My special guest will be Fr. Philip Zymaris of Holy Cross Greek Orthodox School of Theology. Let’s learn together about this wonderful wisdom in quieting our hearts to hear the voice of God. That’s Sunday at 8 PM on Faith Encouraged LIVE here on Ancient Faith Radio.