These fairly well-known words, sung by Dionne Warwick as part of the theme song to an old movie (which I’m pretty sure I never even saw!), sum up the Big Question for many of us. (Well, leaving out the ‘Alfie’ part…!) Is the mystery of human life – or any kind of life, for that matter – existent just for the purpose of living it? Seems way too simplistic for me, an answer like that. What’s behind it all?
Of course you know I’m going to say God, but even that is too basic an answer. It’s a start, though.
These days I’m getting glimpses…but are they ever clear!! Wow. How do I catch this spirit and contain it, communicate it in words? In fact, can I even? It strikes me now that this has already been done, in the Word made flesh. We read the Scriptures and go around praying ‘in Jesus name’, but does anybody even have a clue what that means? What they are telling us? We think we know, but then one day a veil is lifted and holy cow!!! My God, I get it now! THIS is the moment you want…you just know.
(Then the daily routines of life take over once again….and it takes a little bit of effort not to let those old thorns & thistles choke out the Word of Life, to even remember you had that moment of vision…)
As I resume working on ‘Axe to the Root, Part 3’, I am finding myself in the above state of, for want of a better word I’ll say ‘mind’.
…so, Axe to the Root, Part 3… My last post left off with the boiled-down basic principle of grace vs. law. I will be focusing on its embodiment in Isaac & Ishmael.
We all know about sibling rivalry. So you can probably put yourself in Ishmael’s place, and imagine his reactions, when told repeatedly that his brother Isaac was actually God’s choice, not him – even though he was the first-born! I’m thinkin’, anger & resentment. I’m thinkin’, second-class citizen kind of feeling. The kind that festers and hangs around a long time. And as if this wasn’t enough, he & his mother Hagar are finally cast out of hearth & home. (Genesis 21:14) Anyone else seeing a perfect formula for hostility, instability, and violent vendetta being formed here?
The site ‘Grace Thru Faith’ offers this insight in an article titled ‘Isaac and Ishmael: Then and Now’: “This feeling of being an unworthy outcast matured into a resentment so strong that it permeated Ishmael’s very soul and from that day to this the descendants of Ishmael have stood against the descendants of Isaac. His anger had given the devil a foothold that grew into a stronghold so powerful that it has lasted all through the generations.”
‘Stronghold’ is the operative word here.
I’ve done some reading & researching into the whole idea of Ishmael’s descendants being/not being the Arab nations of today. From a technical viewpoint. Being/not being Muslims, radicals etc. The Encyclopedia of Islam Myths presents us with “Arabs are not the descendants of Ishmael!” Which would pretty much refute my whole point here, except for the fact that I don’t think any of the details included matter all that much. That spirit that took root in Ishmael held on. It made its ways down through the corridors of time & the annals of history. It flowed through bloodlines & was was born anew, again & again, into successive generations. It has arrived in the 21st. century. We have been battling its manifestations for decades – in the Middle East, in the Land of the Free & the Home of the Brave, and around the world, as embassies, subways & nightclubs are bombed.
I’m going to call this manifestation of hostility an Ishmaelite spirit. We’ll talk more about it in my next post.