“Work out your salvation with fear and trembling for it is God who works in you to will and to act in order to fulfill his good purpose.” Philippians 2:12-13
“Do not despise these small beginnings, for the Lord rejoices to see the work begin.” Zec. 4:10
“And we know that God causes all things to work together for good to those who love God, to those who are called according to His purpose.” Romans 8:28
Change happens. We cannot live through a year, or even a month without some sort of change. Change touches just about everything, even our language and the meaning of the words we use. Here is a little history. At one time, the word ‘silly’ meant ‘to be blessed with worthiness.’ And then there is the word ‘flirt.’ Today we might say flirting is to either make some alluring eye contact or expressing some fun or enticing language toward someone we show interest in, but in the mid-16th century, flirting was defined as a sudden sharp movement. The original sense of the word was to ‘give someone a sharp blow’ and to be ‘sneered at.’ That is quite a change from how we use the word today! Then there was the word fudge. That chocolatey delicious treat that is hard to pass up while we are on vacation. Its original meaning was to ‘lie or to speak complete nonsense.’ I kind of see how this one has morphed into our tempting treat.
In the Roman world, the latin word for ‘genius’ was seen very differently than we use it today. We see ‘a genius’ as someone who is incredibly smart in some aspect of knowledge or skill. It is very specific to an individual person. Yet in ancient times, genius was seen as a deity that either resided in a place or would follow someone around. You were a genius because you either came from a genius place or that genius place followed you!
I can understand why the Romans thought a genius could be equated with coming from place rather than being innate to a person. There are seasons and places that shape us and in a sense, forge God’s character, or should I say his genius into us. It’s the refining fire that many prophets spoke about. None of us love to be in those places, especially when it is hard to understand or appreciate the work that is being formed in us, yet it is those difficult places where we gain the wisdom and the Godly character that bless us the rest of our lives.
This was true for King David. While he is known as a warrior king that fought epic battles, none being larger than his ‘one on one’ battle with Goliath, yet the most enduring gift from David’s life was not his military victories nor his kingly achievements, but rather it was the genius developed as a singer/songwriter that humanity has enjoyed for 3000 years as we read the Psalms. Those Pslams that were crafted in places like the cave of Adullam and the barren wilderness while tending his fathers sheep.
If ‘genius,’ from the Roman world perspective is that which is born in us when we have come from a given place, then we should not despise the download of wisdom and slow maturing of character that is used by God to form His genius in us while we are there. Genius only comes when we ‘embrace the place’ he has us.
Do not deride the caves or the wilderness experiences, but rather trust that as you abide in those places, that God’s genius is being shaped in you. It may just be that the genius formed will grow into the enduring gift that God shares with this world.