Sunday Thoughts: Divine Impassibility

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As you all know, I’ve been struggling with my health this year. I’ve been making slow but steady progress for the last few months, until about a two weeks ago when I regressed terribly. Back to the doctor! Guess what? I’m anemic. In fact, I have a severe case of anemia. Now, thankfully this is something easily fixed with a diet change, some supplements, and patience. More meat for me!

Within less than a day, I was feeling much better.

Here’s the interesting part: prior to the diagnosis, I not only felt drained physically, I also had no stress threshold of any kind. I had zero emotional control. Every little thing became a point of high anxiety for me. Mole hills became mountains. I cried over things I normally am able to shrug off. I explained all this to my doctor and she said that was totally normal for an anemic person.

Iron. Iron, or the lack there of, affected my emotions.

We live in a day and age when we encourage everyone to follow their heart except my heart was way off point because I didn’t have enough iron in my blood. My emotions are once again proven to be untrustworthy because they can be affected by such a small thing, like diet. My Mom likes to quote Dickens from The Christmas Carol:

“You may be an undigested bit of beef, a blot of mustard, a crumb of cheese, a fragment of underdone potato. There’s more of gravy than of grave about you, whatever you are.”

All this to say, guard your heart. Your emotions are not the most trustworthy way to divine truth. They can be manipulated by something as straightforward as a low iron intake.

After learning all this and feeling better after some meat, I realized yet again how thankful I am for the doctrine of Divine Impassibility. My emotions get yanked around. God is without emotions. He loves me now as he has always loved me and will always love me and nothing great or small can change that. God can’t suffer from a low iron count that makes him cry over the smallest thing or seize up in terror at some perceived fear. God is not like me and for that I am truly thankful because I can trust him. His love will not change. He will not suddenly fear for me. He holds me safely in his might. He will never lose me, or be annoyed by me. He is unchanging. His love will never change. I am the creature. My emotions affect things like my love. They misguide me. I can’t trust them. But, I can trust an impassible God. My God.

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God without Passions by Samuel Renihan.

This book was probably one of the most theologically rich books, or deep books that I have ever read. I tend to go for books which are heavy on life application as opposed to books that are rich in doctrine. This is a trait that I’m working on changing thanks to my husband’s teaching on Systematic Theology and Amy Byrd’s book Housewife Theologian. I’m slowly learning that Systematic Theology and doctrine are completely applicable to life, and rich in head and heart knowledge.

It took me a while to get through this book. I took it in small chunks. Some of it was hard to read and follow based on the English language at the time of the writer. Some of it was just really deep requiring a logical following of the argument to gain the point.

All in all, it was a very encouraging read and mostly for this point: reading the work of other Christian brothers over the last several hundred years gives you a sense of connection. We are not an isolated bubble in history. No. We stand united with many many other dear saints who have gone before us and have held to the traditions as dearly as we do and should. We are not alone in this river of time. We are joined in one great battle against the darkness with our fellow saints. You want proof? Here are men going back and back writing about the same issues we so recently dealt with in our association and still continue to wrestle with. We are not alone in this. Our older brothers also thought through and examined this doctrine. Our older brothers stood their ground and upheld the doctrine of Divine Impassibility and we may count ourselves in their number now. God is good.

My favorite quote from the book was from John Tillotson and his book The Remaining Discourses, on the Attributes of God:

“If God be pleased to stoop to our weakness, we must not therefore level him to our infirmities.”

Amen!

God’s gracious mercy to us to come to us the creature and make himself known to us, doesn’t mean we can turn around and subject him to our creaturely way of looking at the world.

My other favorite quote was by Benedict Pictet and his book Christian Theology:

“. . . thus he did at the same time decree to create men, and to destroy them by a deluge some ages after.”

God’s repentance at the flood wasn’t a changing of his character but a stooping down to us to help us understand. God decreed the flood from the beginning. He doesn’t change, but he does gently stoop down to his children.

I found this quote interesting as a storyteller because we plan the suffering, change, and growth of our characters without, on a human level, changing ourselves. Everything may change in the character’s life, including death, and I’m the same me. I had a character who was the worst of reprobates, a betrayer of friends, who was forgiven and redeemed. He changed, not me. I planned his salvation from the beginning. (Obviously, this analogy breaks down because I change and I change my mind, and sometimes out of the blue, I’ll think of something for my story, but it still helps me to grasp the idea of Impassibility.)

The more I contemplate Divine Impassibility the more beautiful it becomes. One, I’m secure in a God who doesn’t change and can’t be change. Two, I have Christ. Oh, the beauty of God who became man with all that we are, without sin, and died for me. Christ suffered. Christ felt. Christ died. He did all that we long to have in a Savior. Why try to change the very nature of God, making him passible, when we have Christ? What more do we need? We have divine God, who is impassible, and Christ, who in his human nature, is passible.

Christ is our mediator. He bridged the gap between God and Man, and in him, in the Doctrine of Divine Impassibility I find heart. I find great love beyond understanding. I find all the emotion I could ever want because God became Man and dwelt amongst us.

If you wish to have a better, historical sense of Divine Impassibility I suggest God without Passions. It may be weighty, but it is good and worth the work.

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Writing Journal: Writing a Fairy Tale

I don’t have any great writing let-me-splain-01lesson to share at the moment, so what I’m going to talk about is the joy I have suddenly found in writing a fairy tale.  Some of you followed my Worlds before the Door blog and so you know what I used to write.  You have my permission to skip the next paragraph.  For those of you new to me, let me explain…that would take too long…let me sum up.  🙂  (Now you know exactly what kind of geek I am, and that I grew up happily in the 80’s.)

My writing is dark and detailed.  Now it’s hasn’t been detailed for the readers, but under the hood, it’s complicated.  I told all of my dark stories in a magical, fantastical setting.  This fantastical magic had very intricate rules.  It had to.  If you’re going to give your supernatural heroes supernatural enemies and have consistent battles, or any type of battles, you have to know who can do what.  Who can have visions and who can’t?  What type of visions?  When?  That’s the details.  I wrote about serial killers, mass murderers, insane asylums, and other such things.  The darkness came pouring out of me because light shines brighter in the darkness.  Hope is sweeter after emptiness.  Healing only matters if you’re broken.  Forgiveness is for the damned.  This is why my stories are dark.  I had to do a lot of emptying, breaking, and damning before I could bring hope, healing, and forgiveness.

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The problem was very few people could stomach them.  Those who actually made it through my 70-page prologue, where everyone died, did so with lots of shudders.  A few readers told me they couldn’t read what I wrote.  They loved the message but they couldn’t bear the depth of the darkness to get to the light.  The people not interested in my stories far outweighed the people who loved them.  (Thank you to everyone who loved them!!!)

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I wanted to share my stories and I wanted to encourage the body of believers.  I wanted to remind them through my stories that there is hope in the darkness when you’re broken and bleeding.  I wanted to remind them of the power of forgiveness.  I want to show a true love that is a choice of the mind instead of a whim of the heart.  I didn’t want to be one of those people who stubbornly and rebelliously refused to change at the request of others or the dictates of the Lord out of some misguided desire to be true to self.  What did I do?  I started writing fairy tales for children.

1024For the past few months, I’ve pounded my head against a brick wall with my Fairy Tale: Icicle Rain.  It was such a struggle.  I had so much to learn about this world.  Nothing felt comfortable, familiar, or smooth.  I had to edit every scene already written as I wrote new scenes and discovered more about the story.  Then it happened:  I had a moment.  The whole story came together.  The darkness became so very dark and the light became ever brighter, if smaller for a time.  I found a piece of the heart of the story:

(Just to make it clear, Gus is a mouse and Presto is a mushroom with many eyes.  Oak is a dryad.  I told you it’s a fairy tale, right?)

“And your heart?” Presto asked raising several eyebrows at Gus.

“My heart?” Oak patted his coat and trouser pockets.  “Where’s my heart?  Oh, yeah, I gave that away.”

“Do you know who has it?”

“No, but they needed it.  Their own heart had been broken, so I gave them a new one.  I gave them mine.”

“Can you tell us even one little thing about who has your heart?” Presto asked getting irritated.

Gus grunted at him.

“You know, sir,” the mouse turned to Oak.  “It might be a good idea to know a little bit about this person.  Your heart belongs to them now and that brings responsibilities and obligations.”

“I know that they are kind,” Oak said.  He leaned forward, listening not with the ears he no longer had, or seeing with eyes no longer his own, but listening to what he had given away.  “I know they needed hope.  I know great sorrow and loss mark them.  She lost everything she cared about, and that loss broke her free.”

“Did you say she?” Presto said, leaning forward.

“Yes.  I gave my heart to a woman.  She loved eight men and when the last one was safe or dead, or both, she left.”

“Sounds like a bit of a floozy if you ask me,” Presto muttered getting another pointed glare from Gus.

“No.  No.  Not grown men.  There was only one grown man.  The rest were growing men, her growing men.”

Gus gasped.  “She had seven sons?  You gave your heart to the mother of seven sons?”

“No.  I gave my heart to a woman with a glint in her eye and a heart for trees.”

The mouse and the mushroom gasped.

“That’s impossible,” Presto said, never truly at a loss for words.  “Impossible, I tell you.”

These few lines won’t mean a whole lot to you, but to me they were the moment I found a huge part of why I was writing this story.  They represented all the darkness still coming, but it wasn’t an empty darkness.  It was a darkness with lots of hope.

I fought against writing children’s literature for years.  Poor writing plagues it.  Everyone is doing it to try to capture some of the monetary magic of Twilight.  I often find most YA, and Tween books filled with angst instead of adventure, worship of romance instead of the truth about real love, and lacking adults as if adults can’t be in YA fiction.  (Obviously, there are exceptions.)  I didn’t want to throw myself in with that mix, and yet…I love good children’s stories.  Many of my favorite books are books I read in high school or were written for that age group:  Lord of the Rings, The Hobbit, Harry Potter, Hunger Games, Jane Eyre, Pride and Prejudice, Sunshine, A Wrinkle in Time, and The Chronicles of Narnia.  I love a well-written story for children.

So, I shook off the self-imposed stigma I had attached to writing for young people.  Who cares if most of it out there is tripe or poorly written?

I embrace my new stories.  I love writing a Fairy Tale because it can have all of the darkness, and not all the magic has to be explained like it was in my other stories.  I love writing a Fairy Tale because I can pull from all the myths and truths that I love and hold dear.  I love writing a Fairy Tale because I found a piece of the heart.

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Shiny!

I’m not one of those people who believe that the best way to battle darkness is to pretend it doesn’t exist.  I think it’s best battled by facing it head on.  Heavy thoughts from someone with a blog covered in bright colors and paisley patterns who writes kids stories about her nieces and nephews, right?  Nope.  I consider myself the Kaylee of the battle against darkness.  I can face the darkness with tears and a smile because my soul is safe.  A Hand mightier than my own holds it.  The darkness doesn’t like hope, laughter, and smiles.