Monday, September 24, 2012

A Visual, Spiritual Cliff

One of the most wonderful things I've experienced in my life is the development and growth of my children. From the first gassy smile to the first turn of the car key, each step has revealed to me how precious our Creator is that He so wonderfully and wisely made each of us. This morning, during my quiet time with my Daddy, I was reminded once again of the beauty and wonder of our Father and His infinite, unconditional love for us.

If you've have children who've mastered crawling, you may have noticed an interesting phenomenon: Babies generally stop crawling at edges, such as the edge of the top stair, or a table. (Keep in mind, I said generally, because I am all too aware that some of us seem to rear children for whom there is within themselves no fear!) If you've managed to take any sort of child development class, you may have learned about the visual cliff (see photo, borrowed from an article on Eleanor Jack Gibson at

In the picture, you can see a crawling infant, perhaps 10-12 months old, crawling across a glass topped table. One half of the table has the checkerboard pattern directly beneath it, creating the illusion that it is solid; the other half of the table, however, shows the pattern dropping. The change in the pattern gives the illusion that if the baby continued across, it would fall. It was noted that infants would stop at the perceived edge, even if their mother was across the expanse. (A similar protective reflex was noted in goats within just an hour of their birth; they would always stop at the edge of the visual cliff.)

I know, I know. All of my children are far beyond the crawling stage, so maybe you're wondering where I am going with this. THIS is where I am going>>>

I have rejoiced in your laws as much as in riches. (NLT)
I have loved the way of your testimonies more than all riches! (Aramaic Bible in Plain English)

I rejoice in following your statutes as one rejoices in great riches. (TNIV)

[from Psalm 119:14]
As I contemplated this verse, this psalm, I longed to understand how the psalmist loved and rejoiced in the law, commands, statutes the Father has given us. There is such a deep passion for the Law that is expressed in this psalm from even the opening verse, "Blessed are those whose ways are blameless, who walk according to the law of the Lord..."

Blessing, as I have learned from studying the Scriptures, refers to making one happy, or setting aside something especially as a gift. The whole psalm speaks of being happy, joyful, and content in the Laws of God. And forgive me, I'm feeling a bit like a teenager, but how can rules make me happy?

Think back to that table--the visual cliff--and what protective value that reflex has for the young child who nears the top of stops, the edge of a table, or other height. It appears that there isn't a standard of learning involved but that God has put in us an innate fear of falling to our death! Isn't God's perfect law just like that? It doesn't require learning, but instinctively should stop us from proceeding and plunging to our deaths as well.

Unfortunately, just as we are able to ignore God's law, turning ourselves to our own ways and what may appear to be right in our eyes, the scientists who first researched the visual cliff found that not all infants did stop at the perceived ledge.  Depending on the age of crawling on-set, as many as 2/3 of infants dared to cross the visual cliff without fear. In fact, it was noted that this bravery seemed to be linked to the earliest ages of crawling!

Isn't that much like our spiritual lives? The earlier we are exposed to the dangers and warped perceptions of our world in sin, the more likely we are to ignore God's commands and seek to do it our way. I know that it absolutely true for me! My ability to trust others was crushed very young, and because of that, I learned not to rely on others but instead to figure it out on my own. My way might not work, but at least it didn't leave me in the lurch. (Or did it? That's a post for another day!)

Today, I want to rest in my Daddy's arms, loving the boundaries and protection of His Law. I mentally see His commands as safety, not punishment, and today I seek a new understanding within my heart of the great love contained and demonstrated in God's perfect Law.

Daddy, the rebellious teen inside of me finds it hard to understand loving, or rejoicing, in the laws you have given. I want to try it out my way. Sure, you know better than me, but I don't want to be controlled. Today, I beg you to transform my view of your Word, your precepts, your testimony, and Law. Instill in me a deep hunger and passionate love for your love rooted in the understanding of its protective value in my life. Make me learn to rejoice in your ways, the shoulders and median along the highway of my life. In Jesus' name, AMEN.

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