2014-11-04 - God and Frankenstein
Originally Published 2013-05-19
Question To Consider: When have you made selfish or impulsive decisions that you later came to regret? What happened when you tried to "fix" things on your own? How does it feel to know God offers you love and forgiveness, for even your worst mistakes?
"Have mercy on me, O God, because of your unfailing love. Because of your great compassion, blot out the stain of my sins. Wash me clean from my guilt. Purify me from my sin. For I recognize my rebellion; it haunts me day and night." (Psalm 51:1-3, NLT)
"My limbs now tremble, and my eyes swim, with the remembrance; but then a resistless, and almost frantic, impulse urged me forward; I seemed to have lost all soul or sensation but for this one pursuit." (Frankenstein, Chapter 4)
"I had begun life with benevolent intentions, and thirsted for the moment when I should put them in practice, and make myself useful to my fellow-beings. Now all was blasted: instead of that serenity of conscience, which allowed me to look back upon the past with self-satisfaction, and from thence to gather promise of new hopes, I was seized by remorse and the sense of guilt, which hurried me away to a hell of intense tortures, such as no language can describe." (Frankenstein, Chapter 9)
I recently ran across these excerpts from Mary Shelley's classic novel Frankenstein, written nearly 200 years ago. I haven't read the entire book since high school. Its a disturbing and sad tale about the consequences of one man's decision to cross a boundary that should have never been crossed. By the time he began to understand the disastrous chain of events he'd set in motion, it was too late. Feelings of guilt and regret couldn't change the outcome. He tried to "fix" the problem, but couldn't.
What struck me about these passages from Frankenstein was how similar they are to many passages in the book of Psalms. Themes of regret over impulsive choices, despair, and fear are all prominent in both books. Both writers eloquently captured these emotions.
Unlike Dr. Frankenstein, King David was a real person. He was blessed with power, and he, too, made impulsive choices because of that power. He lusted after someone else's wife, acted on his feelings and urges, and got her pregnant. He crossed a boundary he never should have crossed, and involved himself in something he didn't have any business being a part of. He got so caught up in having what he wanted, that he didn't think about how his choices would impact the rest of his life, or the lives of others. Then, like Dr. Frankenstein, he had to try and figure out what to do. He had the woman's husband killed, so he could marry her. It reads like a novel, but this story was all too true for King David.
Most of us don't have someone else's husband killed or create monsters, but we engage in actions that are against what God says. We get caught up in temptation, power, selfish wants, and playing God. Like King David and Dr. Frankenstein, we often choose additional actions that only make things worse, to try and cover up or "fix" our mistakes. We deny, blame, minimize, and engage in all sorts of other reactive behaviors. Owning up to what we've done would probably be easier in the long run, but we are afraid and ashamed. Ultimately, all we manage to do is delay the inevitable. We can't save ourselves or "fix" things, no matter how hard we try. This has been the reality of humanity, since Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden.
Thankfully, mistakes can lead to wisdom. Our sins and wrong behaviors can help us realize how much we truly need God. He can use these experiences to bring us back to Him. God knew we would abuse the freedoms He gave us. He knew we would get caught up in momentary feelings and urges, become too fascinated with our own "discoveries," and use the minds and hands he'd given us to do things that He never wanted us to use them for. Instead of abandoning us to suffer the consequences of our own actions alone, God loved us and had compassion on us. He sent and sacrificed His own Son, Jesus, to save us from our own wrong choices, selfishness, and the mistakes we make impulsively or deliberately.
In our humanity, we mess things up, but God offers forgiveness, healing, and salvation. We can call on God to help us when we mess up. There may still be consequences, but there is also grace, love and mercy. He doesn't give up on us, and is ready to forgive and help us. We may not feel we deserve His kindness, but God offers it anyway.
Dr. Frankenstein didn't know what to do with his creation, but God knew what we needed and provided for our need. Even though we break His heart with our choices, He lovingly welcomes us back into a relationship with Him, when we receive this gift. When we sin, He forgives us and asks us to turn away from our wrongdoing and follow Him.
Thank You, Lord, for loving us so much and providing us with a Savior. Thank You for forgiving us and for Your patience, grace, mercy, and compassion. Help us to learn from our mistakes and the mistakes of others (true or fictional). Teach us to depend on You, and to live our lives the way You want us to. We can't do it without You, and we thank You for strength and wisdom when we are weak.
All scripture references are from the NIV unless otherwise noted.