I like white noise. At night, I require a whirring fan to quiet my thoughts. All three of my kids have the same obsession. It’s a generational thing! Actually, I can blame my fan obsession on my Grandma Helen and Oklahoma summers.
Just to clarify: Oklahoma summers are hot. Stinkin’ hot. So humid the bugs stick to you when you take a walk with your dog. So heavy the air seems visible and thick.
But when you are 10 years old with a huge imagination and acres of farm to roam, the heavy, hot air doesn’t seem to bother you. It didn’t bother me . . . at that age. After running and playing and occasionally investigating the calves’ eyelashes (so long!) and building forts with fallen tree limbs from the scrub oaks on the hill, Grandma Helen would run me a bath to get the sweat and stink off while investigating my body for sneaking, conniving ticks. I still hate ticks.
After the bath—clean and tick free, I’d pull on my pajamas and climb into the guest bed. The sheets were crisp and smelled fresh, and the top sheet was a light cover over my bath-cooled limbs. I don’t remember if Grandma and Granddad had air-conditioning or not, but they did have fans. Grandma always left a box fan whirring in the room and gradually my thoughts would still and I’d fall asleep until the smell of bacon at 6 a.m. woke me up. That was the beginning of my fan obsession.
Not only do I have a fan in my bedroom (in an air-conditioned house), I even had one in my classroom. It was just a little fan on the floor by my feet—not because my feet were abnormally sweaty—but if the students were taking a test or writing an essay, it was too quiet for me to concentrate. Thus the fan.
Now when I am writing a paper for my master’s class, I turn the television to HGTV or something that blends into the background easily and helps me focus. Usually.
My little anecdote has spiritual purposes—hence the title.
Sin isn’t a real popular word. It’s never been a popular word. It has all kinds of images stuck to it. Hell fire. Stonings. Tears. Westboro protestors walloping folks with condemnation. Jonathan Edwards’ “Sinners in the Hands of an Angry God” sermon, which compares us to spiders that God dangles over the pit of hell . . .sweet.
Dictionary.com defines sin (in its noun form) as a “transgression of divine law; any act regarded as such a transgression, especially a willful or deliberate violation of some religious or moral principle; any reprehensible or regrettable action, behavior, lapse, etc.; great fault or offense.”
NOTE: *If you want to see the ancient Hebrew and Greek breakdowns of the word visit this website: http://www.theopedia.com/Greek_and_Hebrew_words_for_Sin
(Or talk to my son, David who loves the Bible and loves dissecting the Ancient Greek in the New Testament and who can tell me the broad sweeping details –an oxymoron, I know—of biblical history!)
Sin is a deliberate action. You don’t walk around through the day oblivious to your conscious decisions. Sins aren’t mistakes. Mistakes are “Oh, pooh! I left out that question for the test!” Or, “Shucky darns, I didn’t proof that email!” Or “Poo-poo fart-face on the world, I forgot my lunch.” Sin is totally different. Sin is a moral mistake.
A head/heart conversation may go something like this: “It’s not really gossiping—we’re commiserating about people who irritate the snot out of us!” Or, “Ok, so there is a ton of weird, kinky sex in this show, but if I just fast forward through it, I’m not dishonoring my mind.” Or, “Life is too short—this is just harmless fun—go with it!” Or, “I don’t care what my husband/wife thinks—I’m doing whatever I want to do…so there.” (Insert raspberry—not the fruit, the sound) Or just plain hating on folks because of their religion, race, sexual preference, politics, hair color, baldness, fatness, perfection like Emma Stone who is too incredibly cute and spunky for words! Or because they have achieved something you haven’t. JK Rowling—I shake my fist at you!!
My personal sin conversation goes something like this: “OMG!! The sky is falling! The sky is FALLING! I have got to fix it, fix it, fix it. Nope, nope, nope. This is not happening. My life is falling apart! Rage against the [God] machine! Dadburn it! I’ll fix it. I can control the world!!” And then my wee little voice says, “I’m scared!” Tears flow. Mascara clots on the white pillowcase. Sylvia Plath poetry speaks to me deeply…not really…though I do love Sylvia.
Fear. Fear is my idol–and just one of many. I’m no theologian, but I think sin is anything and everything we put ahead of God.
Silly example: Once upon a time, I had the coolest Honda Element (see picture below). I loved Grace (her name). She never had an internal ailment, I could put my bike in the back, I could wash out the floorboards with a hose…she was awesome. But the hubster and I needed a bigger vehicle so we could travel more comfortably (note: Honda Element is great for ME to drive long distances, but hubster is 6’5”—think “knee and leg cramps”). So long Grace, hello Big Boy (a Tahoe). I miss Grace. Honda isn’t making Elements anymore, but I still want one. I see one go by on the road and I want to go clobber the owner and take the Element. I want it badly. Super badly. The sin: if I put my desire for something—be it car, dream job, money, a big TV, happiness, love, great sex or just lots of it, a different spouse, a podcast of one’s own where I could talk about books and reading and learning and teaching . . . anything that is more important to me than God is sin.
That goes for time, too. I’m selfish about time. I like alone time. After my 2nd cup of coffee, a long walk with Zoey (my Puggle), a cold shower to destroy the sticky air and bugs on my body, I want to watch Gilmore Girls. And then study for my class. God says: How about some time with me, Cindy Lou? And sometimes I say yes. And lots of times I say, no. I say no to God. I say no to the one who spoke the universe into being (despite what Cosmos and Neil deGrasse Tyson say—I know many of you will think me backwards—Ahhh, so that’s why I walk funny!) The point: my Creator craves time with me. Little ole’ Cindy Lou who ain’t so little and is old enough to know better. God wants relationship. Relationships take time and care and respect. It’s hard to give that to an invisible God, but He requires it. I love how Eugene Peterson translates Paul’s letter to the Ephesians (and any of us who recognize we are incapable of saving ourselves). He clarifies Christ’s position in the Father and our position in Christ.
Here’s what my man Paul says in Ephesians 1:20-23: “God raised him [Christ] from death and set him on a throne in deep heaven, in charge of running the universe, everything from galaxies to governments, no name and no power exempt from his rule. And not just for the time being, but forever. He is in charge of it all, has the final word on everything. At the center of all this, Christ rules the church. (Oh…I love this next part!) The church, you see, is not peripheral to the world; the world is peripheral to the church. The church is Christ’s body, in which he speaks and acts, by which he fills everything with his presence.” Wow. Just soak that in for a while. I’m still soaking. And so I ask myself—is the world at my center with God swirling around outside it, or is God at my center and the world swirls around me?
I fail at this daily. I need it on a giant placard that hangs in front of my face—but that’s not too practical considering my propensity to trip over gravel. No, I need to write it on my heart because when I put myself or fear or time at the center and shove God to the outer orbit around my self-contained moon, I sin.
And sin is like white noise: it is just noisy enough to distract me from God’s quiet voice. It lulls me into complacency until one day I decide to read my Bible and it doesn’t “speak” to me. Instead I hear the “sin fan” going round and round, whirring gently. My mind drifts. God stays silent.
Some quotes on “sin” I found interesting, humorous, or profound on Goodreads.
“God is the only being who is good, and the standards are set by Him. Because God hates sin, He has to punish those guilty of sin. Maybe that’s not an appealing standard. But to put it bluntly, when you get your own universe, you can make your own standards.”― Francis Chan, Crazy Love: Overwhelmed by a Relentless God
“Hate the sin, love the sinner.”― Mahatma Gandhi
“The only sin is the sin of being born”― Samuel Beckett
“A man by his sin may waste himself, which is to waste that which on earth is most like God. This is man’s greatest tragedy and God’s heaviest grief.”― A.W. Tozer
“The sin both of men and of angels, was rendered possible by the fact that God gave us free will.”― C.S. Lewis
“…but this is the real objection to that torrent of modern talk about treating crime as disease, about making prison merely a hygienic environment like a hospital, of healing sin by slow scientific methods. The fallacy of the whole thing is that evil is a matter of active choice whereas disease is not.”– G.K. Chesterton, Orthodoxy
Pictures from Free Creative Commons & Stock Images
Box Fan: photo credit: <a href=”https://www.flickr.com/photos/smull/3745197474/”>&y</a> via <a href=”http://photopin.com”>photopin</a> <a href=”http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-sa/2.0/”>cc</a>
“Raspberry”: photo credit: <a href=”https://www.flickr.com/photos/cesarcabrera/706610864/”>Cesar R.</a> via <a href=”http://photopin.com”>photopin</a> <a href=”http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-nd/2.0/”>cc</a>
Cool Mobile Solar System: http://www.next.cc/journey/discovery/mobiles