(This is a short essay about affinities. I realized in writing it that it could become very personal and lengthy, but this is not about me. It is about each of us endeavouring to reach our potentiality.)
This year my theme has been “Tea and Crumpets,” despite the fact that I have a real affinity for coffee and truly did, before coffee was cool. The national affinity to coffee has only provided me more options to learn and explore the pleasure that coffee brings. My affinity for coffee stops with snobbery. The affinity does encourage consumption of additional knowledge and probably additional coffee!
Having affinity for something means there is a deep connection to a person or thing. I never thought of “affinity” as being a Biblical term but it is, very much so. Affinity is used three times in the Bible:
“And Solomon made affinity with Pharaoh king of Egypt, and took Pharaoh’s daughter, and brought her into the city of David, until he had made an end of building his own house, and the house of the LORD, and the wall of Jerusalem round about.” (1 Kings 3:1)
This verse may reflect the original meaning of the word, but shadows the way we use it today. Solomon made ties to Pharaoh because of family. Those connections may not have been of the heart type but increased his connection to Egypt.
“Now Jehoshaphat had riches and honour in abundance, and joined affinity with Ahab.” (2 Chronicles 18:1)
Again, we see that two are drawn together and joined for mutual purposes.
“Should we again break thy commandments, and join in affinity with the people of these abominations? wouldest not thou be angry with us till thou hadst consumed us, so that there should be no remnant nor escaping?” (Ezra 9:14)
Each of these passages are examples of affinities gone wrong, but it does not have to be that way.
An affinity is neither righteous nor unrighteous. It is how we handle our affinities. Affinities have the ability to enrich or destroy, according to what we what we do with them. A verse comes to mind, from the Proverbs; its instruction can help us handle our connections in a way that is good for our lives. “He that followeth after righteousness and mercy findeth life, righteousness, and honour.” (Proverbs 21:21)
Let me share a few impersonal examples of affinities; they will probably trigger thoughts of personal examples.
Ibooks draw me in; I love the smell of them. I read them. I collect them. I touch them with remembrance.
I cannot pass a fabric shop without going in. The beauty and texture of fabrics inspire me. Walking into a fabric store awakens my every sense.
I love fast cars, watching them, reading about their performance and just being around them.
I love photography and not just clicking snaps with my phone, but deeper than that. I cannot learn enough. I know the latest and the best lenses. When I see a photograph, I know how another angle would have improved it and sometimes I see a photo and sigh for it is a piece of art.
Some people are this way about cooking. Or children. Or a particular sport. Sharing the Gospel. Healing others – body and soul. Most of us are drawn to music, a gift of God. I know those that have an affinity for it, in multiple capacities.
What do you have an affinity toward? What is tied to you? To what are you drawn? What do we do with our affinities? Do we believe our affinities are linked to the gifts God gave us? Are we developing and using them for His glory? Do we have an affinity, or two that draw us away from the heart of God? Have we developed those, or have we redirected them to be of value and pleasure to God?
Affinity can bring great pleasure or pain, or somewhere in between. My affection for a good, fresh cup of coffee is an affinity because it has inspired me to learn more, yet I am not an expert not want to be. This knowledge, tempered by my affinity toward what God says has also set boundaries. Good coffee is nice, but I can enjoy a poor cup of coffee when shared with good company.
Not every affinity is intended to be used in the same way. I believe that some are for our pleasure and that some can be developed. When we were created, one of the beautiful things God gave to us was the gift of choice. Good choices determine the quality of our lives.
I could have made a life’s work out of coffee, but I do not believe this is what I was created for. Yet, I choose to share this affinity. I have shared countless cups of coffee and conversation in my home, building relationships with friends and The Father.
Not everyone will share our affinities, but I believe that any God-blessed affinity can be of value for His Kingdom and that He desires it to be so.
What happens when an affinity and knowledge collide? You get a better cup of coffee; that is what!
Seriously, when your affinities meet God’s will, this is when your potentiality explodes! Changes in life, painful or joyous, should challenge us to examine our lives and truly, our affinities. One change usually begets others. Perhaps one of your affinities will move to a more prominent position in your life and others will begin to digress.
I believe this is a part of how we are created. Secularism recognises links between what we enjoy and are good at, but as “believers” we can further embrace it, knowing there are no coincidences. We are fearfully and wonderfully made, after all. Through quiet meditation, we can develop clarity about God’s desire for our lives. The secular world does not recognise that there is a God that thinks good for them, but we KNOW he does.
We were created for good things and I believe our affinities are important in determining God’s will for our lives. We walk a narrow path. In this path, we will see less of what the world says is good. Instead, we will be able to hone in to what God deems best for us. I believe this is where affinity and God’s will often meet and journey on together. (I cannot say “intersect” because an intersection shows things heading in different directions.)
Throughout this essay I have used coffee as an example of an affinity, because many will relate to similar affinities. I encourage you to consider what your affinities are and what place they have had in your life. I made a list of mine, that do not exactly seem to line up with the past 30 years.
God gave me strengths and affections to be a helpmeet to my husband in ministry. We are not created alike, as if by cookie cutters. We are unique; the world does not always see what God saw when He created us. The world would not have thought me equipped to be in India for thirty years. Nor did I, but affinity developed and I am thankful.
You’ve heard it said that we are only given enough light to see what is just in front of us. Faith encourages us to continue on, trusting the direction of The Light (of the world).
Let me end with an example. Moses. Who would have guessed? This Hebrew was raised in unimaginable wealth and was likely loved within the palace. He was offered a life many only dream of. This life of ease could not erase the God-given affinity for his people, the Hebrews.
Moses saw an Egyptian hitting a Hebrew, a man that he considered to be “his people.” He killed the Egyptian, which was misguided passion. Killing cost Moses, but the time following this murder was when God guided and strengthened Moses’ affinity for delivering the Hebrew people from bondage. We must ask God to channel our affinities.
We cannot “always and immediately” understand our affinity for everything, but so long as it is not an ungodly affection, I believe that God gave it and can help channel it so that it may be of value for His purposes, but also for your fulfilment.
I have an affinity for the old Seattle coffee shops, places like the Green Onion and the Copper Kettle, the classic kind of coffee bar – little places that served breakfast, lunch and and dinner and have pretty much disappeared. Tom Douglas.
Creativity begins with an affinity for something. It’s like falling in love. Howard Gardner
Today, I am sharing a “funny” … a list of Things I am Super Good At. Why is it funny? Read it and see if you relate to any or all of them.
Things I am Super Good At
- Forgetting someone’s name 10 seconds after they told me.
- Buying produce… and throwing it away two weeks later.
- Digging through the trash for the food box I just tossed, because I already forgot the directions.
- Making plans. Then immediately regretting making plans.
- Leaving laundry in the dryer until it wrinkles. Then turning on the dryer to dewrinkle. Then forgetting it again.
- Calculating how much sleep I’ll get if I can just fall asleep right now.
Here’s to a merry heart!