The Unbearable Incremental Lightness of Being

Consider the lilies, how they grow: they neither toil nor spin, yet I tell you, even Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these. (Luke 12:27)

lilies

There is no nonsense about them
These increments of light
Only they glow – if I may – in value, unvalue, devalue,
Empty terms in empty spaces ungraced in their absence,
These sun-warmed stalks and petals,
Disarranging ornate palaces, trailers, crumbling
Shacks, clutter of temples, stacked offices, neon tenements,
These all gathering the vindicating light
Borne by fragile forms, mortal all,
Sometimes dowdy, bent, flagging,
Sometimes pale, speckled, flashy,
Boldly striking, then again, unnoticed,
Yet there all the same,
Introduced by design, unbidden,
To one an offense to be discarded or tolerated,
Eliciting smile, laughter, scorn, welcome,
Refugees offering refuge immortal
This desire of sun:
These lilies of the field.

For your steadfast love is before my eyes, and I walk in your faithfulness. (Psalm 26:3)

At 5:30 A.M.

An awakening: into steady loss
Dreams escaping into the darkness before dawn
Beloved voice cut short, echoing in the void
To a bereaved daughter, groping
Her way past slumbering husband and child
To a lamplit corner in the pulpit shadow of her father
Cold apparition reaching beyond the grave
Promising all he had failed to give her
Had given to countless others in passing
Like confetti, in deliberate clerical abandon,
Overlooking the child craving him, idolizing
With all the passion of the forgotten lonely.

She sat now in disciplined lamplight
Opening the Scripture chapter by chapter
As if to uncover the key to all mythologies
Of the patriarch, under headstone, after all these years
By her alone lamented, having rested in the peace
He had never thought to reveal to her, to say to her,
That she by grace had a Father who chapter by chapter
Spoke to her His love, a Father who would never fail her.

Many times I think of her172px-StAlbansFiveDock_StainedGlass_JesusKnock
And many times in prayer
Many times I’ve wept for her
Wondering through the years
If she ever heard the still small voice
That called her in the dawn
The voice of our dear Savior
Each day
At 5:30 A.M.

“Behold, I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears my voice and opens the door, I will come in to him and eat with him, and he with me.” (Revelation 3:20 ESV) 

Winter’s Wife

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He had married her on a dark winter’s morning when hope burned low

And his prospects were dim. Yet her piety to him like the gold of Araby

Shone in a heart ablaze with fire by which to warm cold thoughts

As in the grey light of day the months rolled past, then years,

And the bottom line translated meager rewards

And more mouths to feed though she sang what light was given her

Into a wondrous fount from which he drank greedily,

Shunning all but his own despairing gaze.

Continue reading “Winter’s Wife”

Our God Is Mighty To Save

Dr. Meriam Ibrahim with her son, Martin, and her newborn daughter, MayaI don’t know what thoughts of elation crossed your mind on hearing the news this morning that Dr. Meriam Ibrahim arrived in Italy today a free woman at last after she and her two children had been held in captivity in a Sudanese prison for her Christian faith. She had given birth to her daughter, Maya, while shackled after having been given a reprieve from a death sentence. Yet during her entire almost year-long ordeal she refused to renounce Christ and held fast to her God. Now she and her children, having already been reunited with her husband at the American embassy in Sudan, will soon be in his New Hampshire home.

Continue reading “Our God Is Mighty To Save”

Notes: “Writing from a Christian Worldview”

baretreesnightsky

Dr. Timothy Keller of Redeemer Presbyterian Church in Manhattan discussed his insights into “Writing from a Christian Worldview” during a Redeemer InterArts Fellowship in 2003. What was said then rings true today. As his website puts it, “You can’t make sense from facts without using them to create a story, and you can’t make sense of a story without putting it in context of a macro-level worldview. All the stories we tell as Christians fall into the gospel worldview of creational good, fallenness, and redemption.”

For me, the most helpful takeaway from this hour-long discussion revolved around “how Jesus resolves the plot lines” for these reasons:

1. Every story fits into the world’s story, an overarching narrative that you believe in: “You can’t tell facts without a story.”

2. Every story is a subplot of your macro-story. If the macro-story is the Christian storyline, then it will follow the creation-fall-redemption arc.

3. The Christian story co-opts or completes all the storylines of all cultures and worldviews. For example, is it a story of gaining power? wisdom? goodness? freedom? Only Jesus can resolve and satisfy these other worldviews.

In effect, the Gospel story is the story to which all good stories point.

Happy writing!

Where are the Gargoyles of Yesteryear?

640px-Gargoyles_and_chimeras_1,_Notre-Dame_de_Paris_2011

 Gargoyles and chimeras of Notre-Dame de Paris

Our culture glorifies man, not God. It has turned the Gospel to a social do-gooder’s tool so that we turn all our God-given creative energy to social tasks and neglect to glorify God with our offerings of beauty, not just in church architecture but also music, literature, drama and art. Secular educators and media have succeeded in making us feel guilty if we “waste” our money or time by spending it on buying or creating works that attempt to magnify the Father we love, to show forth His glory to the world in gratitude for all we have received. This manipulative guilt has crippled us, so that there is hardly a church on earth that will spend a penny on supporting their own artist, novelist, screenplay writer, classical musician, or architect, and if they do, I suspect they gut the work of its guts, so to speak, so that a Shakespeare (uses bad words), a Michelangelo (nudity) or a Bach (is that really praise music?) is shamed into submission or flight. So the truth we see in beauty belongs to another age, when a Notre Dame (with the gargolyles) was built, a place where people, when they walk in, gasp in astonishment at what man labored to make, only to glorify His maker!