Saturday, 31 January 2015

of Creation, Semantics, and Language Gone Awry

"The heavens declare the glory of God; the skies proclaim the work of His hands" (Psalm 19:1; NIV).

"I hate winter," said my wife as she helped me finish shovelling out the driveway from last night's snowfall. "Me too," I said. "Me too!"

And while I suspect that there are probably more of us who by mid-winter would echo those words than those who wouldn't, and more of us who would prefer the +25 degree (77 F) to the -25 degree (-13 F), I suddenly also started to see something else between the lines. God created seasons, and I'm pretty sure that He didn't create certain ones in order to make life miserable for us. He didn't create winter's snow just to get me grumbling as I climb off the couch, bundle myself up, and go outside to shovel the driveway. (Although when I look at my girth, maybe He did; Lord knows I could use the exercise).

However as I thought further about the creation account, I began to think a little differently about this morning's snow shovelling adventure. Perhaps my winter attitude needs a little adjustment. I wondered if perhaps I might be looking at this season all wrong.
"In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth. ... And God said, 'Let there be lights in the expanse of the sky to separate the day from the night, and let them serve as signs to mark seasons and days and years,' ... And God saw that it was good." (Genesis 1: 1,14,18; NIV; emphasis mine).
Did you see that? Along with the rest of creation, God created the seasons and declared them good. Winter, Spring, Summer, and Autumn were all declared "good" by our Creator.

"Hate" is a very strong word. When I say that I hate something or someone, based upon the very definition of the word, I am saying that I have a very intense hostility or aversion to that person or thing. I could even go so far as to say that I loathe it. At the very least, when I say I hate something or someone, there is no love in the equation; there is only an extreme dislike.

So if I say that "I hate winter," what I am really saying is that I loathe and hate a part of God's creation that He declared good. As I pondered that, it left me with a bit of a bad taste in my mouth. Somehow it almost seems sacrilegious to hate something that God said was good. And yet how many of us haven't used such terminology from time to time?

Call it semantics, if you wish, for that is ultimately what we're looking at here; the meanings of a word, or phrase, in the context of winter.

Now I really do not want to be legalistic about this, but it really is quite amazing how often we use language in ways that we either do not really mean, or in ways contrary to their proper lexical meaning. If we stopped to itemize examples of speech gone awry, I imagine we'd come up with quite a long list.

Of course we do not hate God's creation; He declared it good. And yet Paul said,
"The creation waits in eager expectation for the sons of God to be revealed. For the creation was subjected to frustration, not by its own choice, but by the will of the one who subjected it, in hope that the creation itself will be liberated from its bondage to decay and brought into the glorious freedom of the children of God. 
We know that the whole creation has been groaning as in the pains of childbirth right up to the present time. Not only so, but we ourselves, who have the first fruits of the Spirit, groan inwardly as we wait eagerly for our adoption as sons, the redemption of our bodies. For in this hope we were saved. But hope that is seen is no hope at all. Who hopes for what he already has? But we hope for what we do not yet have, we wait for it patiently." (Romans 8: 19-25; NIV).
Perhaps with the fall of man the rest of creation was also somehow knocked out of kilter. Not to discredit science, but maybe that too partly explains some of creation's anomalies, such as bizarre seasonal weather patterns and other ecological complexities; creation is groaning as it too looks forward to "a new heaven and new earth" when "the old order of things has passed away" (Revelation 21:1,4; NIV), and as some have called it, Eden is restored.

Do I need an attitude adjustment? Maybe. Perhaps the psalmist said it best, "May the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart be pleasing in your sight, O Lord, my Rock and my Redeemer" (Psalm 19:14; NIV), even when I'm shovelling out the driveway from yet another snowfall. Thank you Lord, for the beauty of the winter season. Amen.

Photo Credit: Christina T; Flickr Creative Commons

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