There’s a really cool desk for sale on IKEA’s website. Sure, there are several. But I found one I like. It’s affordable and emits that sort of Scandinavian minimalism I’ve come to demand of things I buy.
The assembly instructions are straightforward and easy to follow—and they should be. I mean, it’s a desk. Why would they be complicated? It’s a desk you’ll use to write or draw or set your clothes when you’re too lazy to hang them up.
But if you skip to #4 on the easy-to-read-easy-to-apply instructions, you’ll find yourself lost. You won’t know what’s what and may even become frustrated with the whole thing altogether. In fact, if you’re lazy enough to pile your clothes on a desk instead of hang them up, you’ll definitely be frustrated when you find yourself in a context that is simultaneously familiar and mysterious.
“All scripture is inspired by God and is full of use when it comes to:
Teaching us what’s true.
Making us realize what’s wrong in our lives.
Straightening us out.
Teaching us to do what’s right.
It is God’s way of preparing us in every way, fully equipped for every good work he wants us to do.” 2 Timothy 3:16
Something as simple as a Swedish desk gets confusing and frustrating when you try to skip ahead. How much more confusing and frustrating does this Christian life become when we skip to number 4?
Behavior development and the insertion of discipline seem to have Dwayne-Johnsoned, extending their 15 minutes of fame into what looks like the face of western Christendom.
Yes, the disciplines matter. Yes, faith without works is dead. Yes, this stuff doesn’t mean anything if your life doesn’t look real and righteous and holy.
But skip ahead to the part where you think you’re supposed to be on your best behavior, ignoring the healing and root-correcting processes, and it won’t be long before your frustration and confusion lead you to abandon a passion you once celebrated for paradoxically being familiar and mysterious all at the same time.
“…It is God’s way of preparing us in every way, fully equipped for every good work he wants us to do.”
I’ve caught myself (more times than I’d like—aka more than once) doubting God’s desires and destiny for my life because he seems so adamant about the preparation process.
If I were conducting a prep course for doing something, even something as simple as an IKEA desk, I’d do exactly what the Swedes did.
Identify your materials and tools. Communicate what they’re for (thus dispelling what they aren’t for). Start at part 1—move forward gently and chronologically.
If someone were to interrupt me when I’m identifying the materials and tools with some bonkers rant about how “Arvin Sepehr is a conspiracy! He doesn’t even want us to make a desk!” I’d hopefully Robin-Williams that moment until everyone watches that kid try to build the desk on his own without my instructions.
Our generation has witnessed the collapse of one desk after another.
I need this blog as much as (if not far more than) everyone I know whose desire to do every good work God wants them to do has driven them to skip steps often.
Skip out on the seasons where what’s true (#1) and what’s wrong (#2) are explained in full—where you learn what friends are for (and what they’re not for),
where you learn what power is for (and what it’s not for),
where you learn what the beauty and gifts of others are for (and who they sure as hell aren’t for),
…and you’ll never get around to doing “every good work” because you’ll be too busy in the board room of your own ego trying to decide if that person meant to offend you or not,
or whether or not your flirtatiousness is “just how you are” or about the sexual gratification to which you feel entitled and morally justified because of all the good you’re doing,
or…you get it.
Skip the season where what’s wrong is actually straightened out (#3) and the terrain God encounters as he pursues you each morning is made smooth and accessible—and see how frustrated you get when your pursuit of him is as laborious as you’ve made his attempts to get to you.
Sure, skip to #4—doing what’s right. Make that the focus of your motives and life. Hide your desires and passions or make them sub-plots to your good behavior and hearty service.
What would that look like?
I bet it’d resemble a poorly made desk about to fall apart under the mess lazily been piled on top of it.