19.12.09

Headlights in the Dead of Night



This is the time of darkness.  The time for the end of daylight savings time.  The time of driving home from work in the dark.  The time when my evening activities suddenly seem to classify as a night life.  This is also the time of a much more pervading darkness.  The time of accelerating departure and decreasing visibility of truth.  The time of stumbling around in the present with little indication of what my future holds, unable even to see in which direction it lies.  This is the time that requires headlights.
I am not surprised by either of these darknesses, just impacted by their reality.  I knew the days were going to get shorter, but when it actually happened it still felt so abrupt.  After a day tucked away in an office I stepped out the door and was startled by the dusk that enveloped me.  The desire to hibernate by a fire pressed in upon me as I headed toward home.  If only my 21st century life allowed for a night on the couch by the fire!  Alas, my plans are liable to take me out into the night, and if I'm so unfortunate, also the rain.  Despite my aversion to venturing out into darkness, it feels so familiar.  If I'm not out socializing after dusk, then I'm conscious of the spiritual darkness that is always eager to obscure my way.  As I peer into the invisible black hole of my future, I clamour in frantic impatience fearing what may lie ahead.  Somehow I think that if I could only see what lies ahead it would help me make my decisions now.  Yet, the harder I stare into the dark looking for clues, the more aware I become of the difficulty to discern God's will and the more surprised I am at the prevalence of deception and ignorance around and, of all horrors, within me.  If only the darkness were as benign as the black of night.  But spiritual darkness seems to increase it's assault on truth the harder I try to find it.  And so, my journey to my destiny is marked by slow speeds, u-turns, some off-roading, a few crashes, and even some times of sleep behind the wheel.  I know where I want to go but I sure don't know how to get there or what getting there is going to involve.
But the inconvenience and uncertainty caused by darkness are not reason enough  to cancel my involvement with life.  As I crest the hill on my way to a social engagement, I am thankful for my headlights that illuminate the road signs marking the curve ahead.  If I need to be out in the dark and the rain, at least I can do it from the comfort of an enclosed motorized vehicle with headlights.  Though I only see a few feet ahead of me, it is enough to keep me safe in the moment and point me in right direction.  I always have enough light for the most immediate circumstance.  What comfort this brings to my finite existence! No matter how treacherous the landscape or how indiscernible my future, I have a guide.  He tells me He is "the light of the world: [if I] follow [Him, I] shall not walk in darkness, but shall have the light of life." (John 8:12)  My path is lit by His presence.  I do not fear the unknown, neither do I hurry beyond the reach of His beams.  I steadily move ahead, directed by the truth He reveals as we journey toward my destination - the home He's preparing for me!  What joy, what freedom, what splendor there will be in the radiant presence of my Saviour, Jesus!  His light is so intense, His brilliance so pure, His splendor so complete; no shadow of darkness can penetrate!  sigh. 

14.10.09

Swelling Waves, Responsive Faith


Looking into the horizon, listening to the waves break on the beach, and lingering as the wind tousled my hair, compelled me to consider The Creator who's breath I felt in the wind and whose heart I felt beating in the waves. It was a beautiful day and a brilliant idea to visit the lake. The temperature was comfortable, the wind favourable to sailing, and the people scarce, but present. To have so much space unoccupied around me revealed the extent of its reach. As the seascape disappeared into the horizon before me, there was a sense of no boundaries; an endlessness to its expanse. Such vastness was humbling as it emphasized my finiteness. What lay beyond what I could see, I knew existed, but only by faith in what the maps claim. And likewise, the whispers of divinity seemed elusive and just beyond my mental grasp. Not so much because there was not enough evidence of Divine presence, but rather because there was too much; too much that spoke to the character of my God. He felt so near, so tangible, and yet so uncontainable and indescribable. This is the paradox of Infinite Greatness seeking involvement with Its creation, which summons from it a response that begs release and reciprocation.

At the lake to relax, I happily observed the peaceful surroundings that extended into the distance with little disruption, releasing my mind from the grip of the petty urgencies of life. I drank in the refreshing perspective that only an awareness of things and Someone so much bigger, better, and more capable than myself could infuse. However, amidst the pleasure, a longing and discontent seemingly counterproductive to the purpose of my visit seeped into my consciousness. After hours of leisure shared with someone significant, the restlessness was unanticipated and incongruous with the setting. Yet, my visit to the beach was incomprehensive considering the opportunities the spaciousness represented. While I sat amid the grass on a bluff, a seagull bobbed on the waves. Where I only waded in the water, a lady many years my senior braved the chilly water and went for a swim, twice. As I navigated over the stones fringing a pier, sailboats gracefully carried their occupants across the horizon. And, as I walked along the sand, a family busily constructed a sandcastle. Put into perspective, my involvement with the presented wonder was meager and my restlessness, obvious. For any exposure to God’s majesty is as unsatisfying as it is satisfying. There is no culmination to discovering Him and each encounter with His character amplifies the yearning to experience Him. Since the moment that Eternal Life breathed humanity into existence, a tension between peace and unrest wrestles within each soul. The ache, which existence incites and sin isolates from its reprieve, is a result of the fleeting life inherited. This temporary existence is a testament to the eternal life God offers, compelling a search for life that will outlive the fragile breaths of time. Created to discover, to experience, and to love my Maker, I am empty until I involve myself in the quest. The infinite opportunity God presents through His Son in His persistent redemption, calls me to surrender myself into the waves of His heart that wash into my life like the waves that roll to shore.

Yet, my habitually finite responses lead me elsewhere for completion or into Him only to the extent that my comfort allows. This insufficient response to the steady call of God’s heart to revel in the purpose He’s poured Himself out to make accessible for me, intensifies the hunger to experience the greater reality to which the remnants of glory around me allude. Consequently, I grapple with the desperate longing brought on by my day at the lake. My discontent induces me to consider what status or response of mine is its current source. Am I a rock on the pier, hardened against the hunger within me, rebuffing the waves washing over me? Am I an indifferent wanderer absent because of the inconvenience of making a visit to the beach? Am I my feet, daring only to test the water temperature, venturing no further than my personal comfort is prepared to tolerate? Am I a sandcastle builder, self absorbed and content to play on the shore listening to the steady beat of the waves and simply satisfied with their spray? Am I strolling the beach willing to observe, to contemplate, or even to appreciate the wonder surrounding me, but unwilling to respond to its invitation with personal involvement and the sure sacrifices it will require? Am I the shifting sand, easily moved by the effect of the movement of the waves, but always settling back into uncommitted mediocrity that the shoreline allows? Am I a seagull merrily trusting the swells and ignorantly using them merely for the pleasure that the thrill of contact with their power brings? Am I the elderly swimmer, courageously choosing a chilly swim realizing its benefits will outweigh the struggle and risks the waves present, knowing it will strengthen me, but never able to swim beyond the distance that my strength endures? I cycle through the possibilities seeing my inconsistent faith making me a participant of each scene.

The longing within me threatens to dive into despair. My heart cries to know and worship the Infinite Character stretching beyond my reach. As the sun glints off the mast of a sailboat far out on the horizon, my faith quickens the hope of redemption within me and I remember to whom my destiny has been entrusted. He owns a sailboat on which I ride. He carries me to each encounter with truth, planned for my soul’s filling. Whether I take a swim while anchored at sea, or whether I fish from its brow or dive from its deck for a deep sea snorkeling discovery, or whether I seek its security in the certain storms, or whether I pause to see the overall perspective while docked on shore, the sailboat is the answer to my hunger for more. He is one with the elements, perfectly responding to the will of the waves, the direction of the wind, and the force of my sin – my absence of faith. He’ll continue to take me beyond what I see now and what I’ll see then. Despite my response to my finite vision, whether fear and ignorant assumptions or confident knowledge of truth as contrasted by Columbus and his contemporaries, my future is known to Him. Confident in this, my aching and longing are exchanged with anticipation and hope. My heart soars in the joy of God’s heart’s overflow: eternal life within me shedding my sin until the day The Captain sends His Summons for my voyage to heaven’s shore! There, saturated in the presence of my Maker and my Saviour, my soul will find its substance, and responding in knowledgeable worship, it will be satisfied in fulfilling its purpose. What a wonder. It will never end. Sigh.

7.9.09

"It's Just a Spider" - Tell that to this creepy crawly phobic & the spider's Designer!

Thanks to E.B. White I have a guilt complex I need to block out every time I kill a spider. Or perhaps I more accurately should blame Julia Roberts, Dakota Fanning, Dominic Scott Kay, Hanna-Barbera Productions, Paramount Pictures, & Sagittarius Productions, and everyone else involved in the making of "Charlotte's Web," the movie. Since watching & re-watching the movie (which I adore) I feel guilty for even shuddering when a spider crosses my line of sight, which has been much more frequent of late.

I do not know the varying characteristics of different spider species, but I have discovered that the ones I've been seeing carrying their developing young with them are not the same species as Charlotte. (That's a relief because I killed one that I saw a few weeks ago!) Unlike Charlotte and the spiders of her kind, these spiders I've seen live to see and nurture their young to maturity. Charlotte and her specie of spider give their lives in exchange for their young. And such is the kind of spider I believe I happened upon the other day.

I was going about the chore of hanging up the laundry to dry outside when I saw her. I was just ready to give a big shiver and mutter some utterance of disgust when I remembered Charlotte. I reminded myself that this spider would not be the one to suddenly drop down my back or scurry up my leg because I was not close enough and it was not active enough. A thought which made me pause long enough to consider the lack of reaction from her when I disrupted her perch, and the sagging shrunken look of her abdomen. As I observed her slow and minimal movements, I became aware that this spider was "languishing."

I thought of Charlotte and tried to quietly go about my business without disrupting her. She was hanging up in a corner and I thought that perhaps there could be a more comfortable place for her to die, but I just couldn't bring myself to bother disturbing her or getting too near myself for my own liking. Eventually though, my business ended up disturbing her and after a fall from her perch I assisted her to the ground to finish her life in peace and comfort. I'm not sure if I over-sentimentalized the moment or if I was just taking time to absorb the reality of creation, but I had a reverential mood come over me which I believe motivated my concern that this spider (of all things) have a peaceful death. I was not troubled or traumatized by the fact that the spider was dying (a dead spider, after all, suits my creepy crawly abhorrence best). I just had a mingling of sadness and respect for her because I realized that like Charlotte she was laying down her life so that her young could live. Suddenly I didn't need to wonder why God would create a creature whose life entailed living long enough to produce thousands of premature spiderlings wrapped in an egg-sac, and then die.

Why wouldn't God create a creature whose central achievement is dying to give life? Why wouldn't God whisper the mission of His Son into the design of a spider? Seems so lowly and unworthy a way of pointing to and glorifying the work and purpose of Jesus, considering how I feel about spiders. Yet, yet, it is the way Jesus has been presented to us all along. My initial response to the spider and to Jesus and His call and will for my life are often parallel; fulfilling God's prophesy in Isaiah 53:2: "For he shall grow up before him as a tender plant, and as a root out of a dry ground: he hath no form nor comeliness; and when we shall see him, there is no beauty that we should desire him. . . he was despised, and we esteemed him not. "

I think my reverence for the languishing spider was fed by my realization that this spider's purpose was bigger than infusing this earth with thousands of spiderlings with which I will coexist (shudder). Her greater purpose was to by living the destiny designed for her, proclaim the work of Jesus for humanity. What a noble purpose. What a lowly messenger. I need to be just like her. And together we still won't offer enough glory that My Saviour deserves. But I do believe God plans to remedy that on that day when the whole world will see Jesus for who He is. And I know that my response on that day will no longer be shudders of despise, but praises of wonder. I will join the angels in their worship proclaiming, "Worthy is the Lamb that was slain to receive power, and riches, and wisdom, and strength, and honour, and glory, and blessing." (Revelation 5:12) And I will join all remaining created beings in the echoes of "Blessing, and honour, and glory, and power, be unto him that sitteth upon the throne, and unto the Lamb for ever and ever." (Revelation 5:13) Sigh.

3.9.09

Smudged Glass

For now we see through a glass, darkly; but then face to face: now I know in part; but then shall I know even as also I am known. 1 Corinthians 13:12


I tend toward negativity. Maybe recording the inspirations that happen upon me, whether through the most ordinary moments and things, or the unusual occurrences and stuff, will turn my heart and thoughts to interact with truth. Many of these posts will seem the smudgiest of glasses, but I anticipate the thrill of discovering a deeper meaning beyond the obvious. And when the truth seems hidden and vague, I will rest in the certainty of one day seeing and knowing with the same unobstructed view and pure truth with which my Maker sees and knows me. Sigh.