Chopping wood for God.


So the other day I was getting into one of my BUT WHAT DOES IT ALL MEEEEAN?? tizzies. And although I nearly completely definitely believe in god, I realised that I don’t live my life as if I do.

And then I though ‘How does someone live their life as if they really and truly believe in god in a life shaking and world changing way?’.

And then I decided to meditate on what it actually means but clearly I feel asleep because that’s what happens when I start my meditations at 10pm

And the next morning, when I went out to buy a (fairtrade) cup of coffee I saw the following Zen proverb (I think it was in The Guardian but I’m not sure)

Before enlightenment, chop wood carry water. After enlightenment, chop wood carry water.

And I laughed and laughed at my own earnest ridiculous and went home to hug my children.

18 thoughts on “Chopping wood for God.

  1. That’s pretty much it! It is far too big an issue for us to comprehend the true meaning of, and like proverb suggests, even if we do know, it’s likely rather beyond our individual control anyways. The best we can do is to help the machine keep chugging along to the best of our ability!

  2. A wonderful post. I wrestle with this a lot. If I really believe God is really there, then why do I act the way I do? And it’s not like I’m a total degenerate – So, what is the “relating to God” version of chopping wood and carrying water? Perhaps Brother Lawrence has something to say to me about that, and I ought to read him again. Practicing the presence of God in everything, including chopping wood. Maybe that way I involve my physical self as well as my spiritual self in faith expression? Thanks for your thoughts. ~ Will

  3. Oh, how I can relate to the desire to do something REALLY BIG for God (as though I could significantly impress Him with my pathetic efforts 😉 )

    I also think we can sometimes make life incredibly complicated for ourselves.

    As often as not, the Biblical instruction on right living is in simply doing the “mundane” things (like chopping wood or loving your family), only with a different motive than those who don’t believe in God. And, since we all botch it, sometimes, Christians can be reassured that Jesus is able to bridge the gap between God’s perfect nature and our imperfect performance.

    • There seems to be the idea at the moment (among christians women in the US, anyway) that if you’re not adopting all the orphans or going on all the missions then you’re not quite holy enough.

      • well, some may indeed have a legitimate , Spirit-inspired desire in those things. Others may be acting from feelings of guilt over not faithfully doing the simple stuff. Still others may believe that the only way God could possibly accept them is if they have a big pile of really good deeds to prove their devotion. I’m sure there are numerous reasons.
        At any rate, for many, the attitude you’ve observed may well be rooted in a misunderstanding (or forgetfulness) of how Christian faith and behavior are interconnected.

    • No need to do something REALLY BIG for God, IMO, dear Heather. We cannot claim any awards from Him. We are creatures and He is our Creator. We’re just compelled to do our best, both big or small, because we need loving and praising Him. As well as the “unprofitable servants” Lk 17,7-10 gospel reports. Or Mt 20, 1-15 parable about the vineyard labourers. And I fully agree with you Jesus is able to bridge the gap between God’s perfect nature and our imperfect performance. He is the Pontiff God’s Mercy provided for us: for He knew what imperfect creature we are. How lucky we are, because His huge love for us!
      Of course.. even [sic!] loving our own family (but not only) has to be that chopping/carrying.. better: serving/labouring thing
      (‘sorry for my “english”)

  4. This was pretty good Eva. I think, as others have said, that getting on with life but with maybe a different attitude is good. And hugging your kids is always good!

    But the character of the God we believe in will inevitably shape some of how we live normal life, including how we treat our children.

    • Speaking of how we treat the children, have you been involved with the ‘loves makes a way’ group that’s enacting non-violent protests in pollies offices at the moment? There’s training down here soon and I was contemplating going along. But I really don’t want to get arrested.

      • I haven’t been involved, but I know one of the organisers quite well, I get notices on Facebook, I have cheered from the sidelines and we attended a LMAW fund-raising concert last Sunday evening. I would be quite happy to be involved and get arrested(I’m retired so it would have less effect for me), but I’d need to check if a conviction might make it difficult to visit my daughter in the US.

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