No, I didn't leave off the "s". I really mean Shifting Ands. Although this is a cool picture of sand. Well, sand and mountains. See - there's an "and"! It means there's more than one thing involved. In this picture, there's also a big contrast between the sand and the mountains. Soft versus hard. To use big words, impressionable versus impervious. We bump up against contrasts regularly, don't we? One such challenge we humans face has to do with how much we individually handle, manage, arrange, take responsibility for, accomplish, and, well, do. And how much we rely on, work alongside, turn to, depend upon, collaborate with, and well, don't do because others are responsible for the doing. It's tough. And sometimes it's like cruising along in the sand and slamming into the rough surface of rock.
Maybe it is task driven. Certain work requires many brains, many hands, many muscles, many pocketbooks. Other tasks are better done by one or are entrusted to only one - to the person in charge or the one with authority. And then there's all the rest of life which is often a delicate balance between being swallowed up in an overwhelming group and being consumed by the resentment that arises when one bears more than one needs to. How often do we examine our "ands" to see if some need to be shifted?
We humans are social creatures, wired for relationships. We crave attention, affirmation, appreciation, and affection. But there are combinations of personalities that tend to be more toxic than terrific. Many of us learn overtly or covertly how to manipulate circumstances and the people who are caught up in them with us so that the results tilt in our favor. But sometimes we slam into the rough surface of rock; the situation will not flex; people will not bend. What happens then might be called divorce or distancing or division within the ranks. Could a shift in the "ands" bypass or reduce the pain?
In the grand scheme of our purpose in history and of life beyond this life, there's ultimately not much we humans can handle, manage, arrange, take responsibility for, accomplish, and, well, do. It can be hard for us to swallow but God is not persuaded into loving us by our good works or manipulated into saving us because of our daily devotions. We like to think that there's something we contribute to the favor we find in God's eyes. You know, it takes God AND me working together to get me where I want to go. Uh, no. That's one very important "and" that begs to be shifted! As Robert Farrar Capon has written about Jesus, "He finds all the lost whether they think they're lost or not. He raises all the dead whether they acknowledge their death or not. It's not that they have to make some heroic effort to get themselves to cooperate with him, and it's certainly not that they have to spend a lot of time praying and yammering to get him to cooperate with them." Sure, there's more than one person involved. But not equals. There's a big contrast between we who cannot save ourselves and he who can. I say, let him do what only he can do and let's just love him all the more for it! And maybe, just maybe, with that relationship in place, all others will fall into theirs.