“Ever since the beginning to keep the world spinning, it takes all kinds of kinds.” Miranda Lambert
Then there’s that time Larry and Rob went mountain hiking ~
Four days and three nights in the Colorado Rockies in October, lavish autumn color during the long hiking day and exquisite moonlight shining, sheening off rocky mountain heights during the cold night, like bright candles sparkling on mountaintops. Perfection.
Until the snows came, abrupt and unforeseen – ten hard inches overnight and more in the morning – hiking back down on hidden snow-covered trails, hard enough to follow in the best of times.
The unexpected comes to all life’s hikers, at one time or another.
But alas, I digress. This story is about cuisine.
Rob was in charge of bringing the food for the mountain excursion; he told Larry he was bringing couscous.
“Sounds good, what else are you bringing?”
“Nothing, just couscous.”
“Only couscous and nothing else for four hiking days? Are you sure?”
“Yes, trust me, man, it’ll be great. Couscous is lightweight and easy to fix. You’ll love it.”
And love it they did, these hungry, trail-weary men, for the first couple of meals. But after nothing but couscous for breakfast, lunch, and dinner, one begins to wonder ~ how tree bark boiled in snow-water might taste or just how much work it really would take to kill and eat a mountain goat.
Lucky for these cold, hungry souls, Larry had gone to the store himself before his mountain-hiking debut and, sitting around a tiny campfire on the first of three snowy, couscous-filled evenings, Larry slyly opened his heavy backpack, the one filled with relief in the form of Clif Bars and almond M&M’s.
Sometimes we just need dessert, something different, something else. Couscous is awesome until that’s all there is – then we want something more – we need something more.
It takes all kinds of kinds.
We know this intellectually but in practicality it shakes many of us, those among us who really like everybody looking and acting and, most importantly, thinking the same way. Ironically we honor diversity in God’s natural creation, sing its praises – the variations of trees and dogs and snowflakes – the slight aberrations of color between species of a flower or the leaves of trees – we praise His name for variety and glorify the individuality of His creation with art and words, in song and in dance.
And we’ve been doing this since man first made a painting tool for his cave art and a writing utensil for his page.
As we should.
But with each other, our fellow hikers on this snowy, distracted globe, it’s somehow different to us. When people and theologies don’t look exactly the same, we begin to worry, fret, and worse, destroy, if not with our hands, at least with our tongues.
I have come to learn that one size does not fit all with God.
If God reflects Himself in His creation, then I need to look for the beauty in others and honor their diversity in order to get a fuller reflection of God, the God who created them ~ and not just others like me. One person, one church, one denomination, one ideology cannot reveal God adequately ~ He is bigger than one thought. To know Him more fully, it takes all kinds of kinds.
Do I dare to respect and honor the uniqueness of God in His nature and in His dealings with other people?
God does not tell us all to live the same way.
Now now, simmer down ~ read on, lest ye think I have no Biblical precedent on these matters, before some of ye go stark raving mad and un-follow.
Take Daniel of lion’s den fame and Nehemiah the wall-rebuilder. Both men of God serving Him faithfully in dark, dark days. Daniel was a eunuch and a servant of the wicked king Nebuchadnezzar. During his time of service in the Babylon, Daniel took an oath to drink no wine – an act to set him apart for his ultimate service to God. Years later, when Nehemiah was also living in Babylon, in exile, his actual God-given job was to drink wine as the royal wine-taster for the king.
Or take the prophet Ezra and Queen Esther. Ezra would have died before he would have married a foreign woman and preached resolutely against dalliances with pagan folk. While Esther, a Jewess, was led by God to marry a heathen king and, by doing so, saved her own people.
OK, now it’s time to judge.
A professional wine drinker and a teetotaler – which one is right? Marrying people who worship pagan gods or eschewing them – which is right? And more importantly, which is wrong? Who was used of God best in a dark place?
Which man or woman was more right, more clean, of more service to God?
Could it possibly be that all were right? ~ Different people with different roles during different eras, and all are behaving rightly because God ordained it all.
And not one of these astounding people – Ezra, Nehemiah, Esther, Daniel – seems to think less of the others for God calling them to do very different things. They do not judge each other for being individuals in God’s service; instead they seem to marvel in the uniqueness of God’s creation.
So what do you think? Which one of these was the rightest? All are right? Then why can we not allow each other the same grace now?
It’s a paradox and paradox is messy ~ many people struggle here.
We want a cleaner God.
Our God is paradoxical. He creates what He will create.
Our extravagant God, in all of His creative pleasure, has laid out individual paths for each of us to trod, colorful and unique and as various as each snowflake that fell on Larry and Rob’s tent that unexpected snowy night.
We humans, in all our neurotic fear, try to force everyone onto the exact same paths, like terrified cattle prodded toward some silent slaughter of freedom.
The apostle Paul says it like this ~ “Christ has set us free to live a free life. So take your stand! Never again let anyone put a harness of slavery on you.”
I, for one, am finished with this kind of homogenous thinking. I am also finished with this kind of living. I unloose my harness of slavery.
I take my stand.
Isn’t there enough unexpected snow on all our trails? Why do we then keep pushing each other down the icy mountain? Do we really want to eat just couscous all the time?
Do yourself and your whole world a favor and go outside. Open your eyes. There is not one flower or snowflake or leaf or sunset or human being that is the same.
Our creator God takes pleasure in diversity ~ He creates it anew every single morning and shines grace on it every evening as it sleeps.
And He says, “It is good.”
“Ever since the beginning to keep the world spinning, it takes all kinds of kinds.”
Dedicated to all the precious “Lucky Fins” – folk, like me, with limb differences. Check it out! https://www.facebook.com/LuckyFinProject