The Journey series
Why did I Do that?
It’s Wednesday afternoon. This week I’ve done a lot of praying and contemplating but haven’t yet written anything. I’m not sure whether I’ve been listening for inspiration, procrastinating, or hiding in fear.
My intention this week was to begin a series of posts about God’s existence. Is He? What difference does it make? What is His nature? What is our nature? And how should one’s understanding of God affect what they do? I can’t claim divine intervention for certain, but last night, Thursday’s deadline fast approaching, my plan turned itself on its head. Instead of thinking about what to write I became obsessed with why I wasn’t doing what I wanted to do.
That reminded me of a topic I abandoned a few weeks ago. How free is our will? My plan back then was to contrast free will with Maslow’s hierarchy of needs. His theory divides man’s needs into tiers of urgency. Lower levels must be satisfied before higher ones will be sought.
I considered my lack of progress in light of Maslow. I wasn’t busy fulfilling any lower tiers; I wasn’t really doing anything. Why? I wanted to. Was I afraid of slipping down the pyramid? Would I lose esteem if people didn’t like my post or didn’t agree with it? Was I afraid to put my beliefs in black and white? Am I not as sure of my beliefs as I like to think? Maybe I was just being lazy. I recalled what Paul wrote to the Romans, “… for I do not do what I want … it is no longer I who do it, but sin that dwells in me.”
I turned off the TV and began wondering why temptations so often supersede good intentions. There must be a difference between need and desire. Even in food and drink, need exists only to some threshold beyond which more is desire. How firm are those boundaries? Are the higher tiers ever truly needs? According to Maslow’s own research, very few people ever reach the higher levels throughout their whole lives. How can these be needs if people survive without meeting them? Thinking back a few minutes, I wondered what to make of sleep, rest, and relaxation. The scale is clearly analog. Does sloth belong to the same scale? What about Sabbath? Where is God in this triangle? I thought, This is a very secular pyramid. Bang!
Once one knows God, there are no adequate explanations which do not include Him. I heard Maslow; what does God have to say?
Matthew 6:25-34 "Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat [or drink], or about your body, what you will wear. Is not life more than food and the body more than clothing? Look at the birds in the sky; they do not sow or reap, they gather nothing into barns, yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are not you more important than they? Can any of you by worrying add a single moment to your life-span? Why are you anxious about clothes? Learn from the way the wild flowers grow. They do not work or spin. But I tell you that not even Solomon in all his splendor was clothed like one of them. If God so clothes the grass of the field, which grows today and is thrown into the oven tomorrow, will he not much more provide for you, O you of little faith? So do not worry and say, ‘What are we to eat?’ or ‘What are we to drink?’ or ‘What are we to wear?’ All these things the pagans seek. Your heavenly Father knows that you need them all. But seek first the kingdom [of God] and his righteousness, and all these things will be given you besides. Do not worry about tomorrow; tomorrow will take care of itself. Sufficient for a day is its own evil."
Just as my wandering thoughts flipped my topic on its head last night, the Scriptures upend Maslow’s hierarchy of needs. Instead of being enslaved by our baser needs, unable to reach what lies beyond, Scripture tells us to begin with God and leave the basics to His providence. Everyone reaches the top because that’s where they begin.
Leave a Reply.
Peter T Elliott