Every now and then I pick up a Clive Cussler novel partly to see what sort of highly improbable Rube Goldberg plot he has come up with this time. His stories are filled with tidbits of historical and current events combined with the elaborate conspiracies, Star Wars gadgets, Indiana Jones cliff hangers and Louis L’Amour heroic individualism, all of which are combined with events that seem to take place beyond the awareness of the public even when they involve something as obvious as Godzilla tromping through Tokyo or King Kong tumbling from the Empire State Building.
How ridiculous can one get? And yet, exaggerated as his plots may be, they are not unlike the way so many of us behave as we lay down the plans for our lives and attempt to manipulate the lives of others. We make simple things unnecessarily complicated. We posit simple minded solutions to complex issues. We love conspiracies even if only as neighborhood gossip. We too often act as if the consequences of our behavior will have little effect on or be known to others around us. We concoct improbable rationales for irrational decisions. And we wonder why life is so complicated. Maybe that’s what makes Clive such a successful writer for our times. His stories represent something like a stamp of approval for the adolescent fantasies we often try to live out as adults.
Life does get complicated, but, as Jesus reminded Martha, we can be worried and distracted by too many things; only a few things are needful. We cannot avoid the ‘too many things.’ They are out there all the time. It’s the being worried and distracted in too many ways by too many things that we need to avoid. It’s the few things that are needful that we are to keep as the focus of our lives.
The too many things about which we become too worried and too distracted are what cause us to create our own Rube Goldberg contraptions and Clive Cussler plots. Goldberg’s contraptions always worked but inefficiently and for no useful purpose. Our contraptions are equally inefficient, their useful purposes exists mostly in our imaginations, and they rarely work. Cussler’s plots always end with the heroes winning and the villains losing, but our plots can’t keep heroes and villains straight and seldom result in an acceptable resolution of anything.
What are the few needful things we are to keep in focus so that our lives might be a little less complicated, a little less filled with anxiety and a little more filled with blessings? Love God, love our neighbor, love one another a Christ loved us. That’s it.
I wonder why that simple, but difficult to live, solution is so often met with rolled eyes and rejection as just more sentimental religious claptrap that gets in the way of real life and real problems. Maybe the writers of Psalms 14 and 53 wondered the same thing. I wonder what you wonder? Post a comment and let me know. In the meantime I must get on with planning my contraptions and plots.