Why is it that sometimes when my brain is overflowing with thoughts it is almost impossible to get a word out on paper (or computer). It’s almost like knowing that a dam will break if you let the thoughts escape.
The idea of seeing through a glass darklie – a dark shadow made of glass – came to me years ago when I was writing a story.
A darklie can be any size, but when you encounter one it darkens your vision and deafens your hearing so that the world seems the same way it does at night, composed of shadows and whispers. The fact that it is made of glass is important to remember. Glass can be broken fairly easily. If the darklie has not attached itself yet, then it is not usually too hard to remove and have the glass shatter. On the other hand, if the darklie is connected and especially if it has attached itself to someone’s eyes (their favorite place to grow) then it is only by careful patience and prayer that it may be removed without damage.
I feel I should add one more thing about darklies. Both Christians and non-Christians have them. They have grown on us over the course of many, many years, almost since the world was begun, and over those years they have steadily but subtly grown darker and darker. But by recognizing that we have them, we can start allowing them to be cleared, until one day we’ll be able to see stars and then twilight and then one morning we’ll wake up and see the sun rising and an angel stirring the waters.
This morning I had a glimpse of what a normal Christian life could look like.
I feel that we have moved so far away from God that we see the reflection of His shadow and we’re content, we feel the whisper of His presence and it’s almost too much for us.
Adam walked with God. Abraham fed Him and waited on Him. He recognized God whether He ame as a person or came in a vision or Abraham spoke to Him. Moses could not see God’s face, but he spoke to God as a man does to a friend. Joshua stayed in the tent where God’s presence was.
I am so tired of seeing through a glass darklie. I want You, Father. I want my face to shine with Your light, I want Your glory to surround me, I want, I desire our house, our home, our family wherever we go to be filled to the brim, filled to overflowing with Your presence. I want to live a normal Christian life, not an average Christian life.
The glimpse I had was of a church somewhere very cold and very poor. And the Preacher was telling His parishioners that God would take care of them. And the warmth was coming from God to warm them as they listened. To illustrate, He turned to Shadrach, Meshach, and Abendigo. It was much too hot for them there and God kept them comfortable. And it hit me that this is how our Christian walk should be, when we remove the glass darklie from our eyes (those dark lies like to hide things and put them in shadows so we merely see the outline of what is, like a child laying in bed at night nervous about the shadows flickering in his room).
Like cataracts over our eyes, we’ve allowed the darklies to grow over the years and over the generations until they’ve cut off so much of our vision that we’re practically blind, it’s just that we don’t realize it because we’ve never seen things any other way. And the change was so gradual for each preceding generation that very few were aware enough of it to work on removing it.
Can’t you just see us fumbling around, blind men who haven’t realized that we can’t see, diseased without knowing we need healing, only the difference in shadow tones telling us whether our eyes are opened or closed – and yet we say the shadows are real and we turn and trust in what we see instead of clinging to the One whose eyes are unfettered and allowing Him to heal us.
It’s bothered me for a while that:
Adam walked with God.
Abraham recognized God.
Moses couldn’t see God’s face, but he could be in His presence and see His back.
The children of Israel saw God in the cloud and the flame.
By Jesus’s time, people no longer saw the angel who stirred the water, but they saw the water move and knew what caused it.
And now we’re lucky if we see the water move and we have no idea what caused it. We have become so blind that we can’t see what is real, even if it’s close enough to bite us on the nose.
It just hit me. Until Jesus had come to the earth, it makes sense that each generation would see less of God.
When Adam and Eve sinned, God didn’t entirely turn away. They were still near Him because although the sin was a stain across them, they were still filled with God. With each generation though, the stain spread, growing ever larger from additional sins. And the sin darkens our vision even more than the darklie does. We can’t even think about having the darklie removed until the stain that covers and hides it has been removed. So that by the time Jesus came along, the stain covered their vision almost entirely. They could not even see an angel when they looked at one, and they could no longer recognize a face that glowed with God’s presence or looked like the Son of God, although Nebuchadnezzar (who didn’t know God yet) recognized Him in Daniel (3:25).
I don’t have words for the next part – it is more a picture in my mind. But I see us as Christians reaching out just as we would to those who have been in an accident, gently, tenderly taking their hands and saying, “Come, let me help you. Let me wash the blood out of your eyes so you can see. This? It’s living water. It will make the stain white as snow.”
From my study journal dated November 9, 2010
Each year I say that this year I’m going to participate in NaNoWriMo. I set up my material, get ready to start writing, and then … nothing. Oh, I write a little, usually. Some years I skip the first day, think “I’ll do it later,” on the second day, and so goes each day after that, until it’s the end of the month with nothing written.
So, to keep me accountable and on track, I’m going to try posting here. Maybe this will work, hopefully – I’d love to actually complete a NaNoWriMo.
For those wondering what on earth I’m talking about, NaNoWriMo stands for National Novel Writing Month. If you want to read more about it, visit nanowrimo.org. In fact, if you decide to join, you can add me as a buddy (I’m Teeg on there).
When I was an infant at my mother’s breast, I gurgled and cooed like any infant. When I grew up, I left those infant ways for good. 1 Cor 13:11
On the YouVersion Bible on my iPad, I have all of 1 Corinthians 13 highlighted in various colors, with the exception of this one verse.
I enjoy playing games. Some of my favorites are the old games like Zork and Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy. One thing I learned while playing these that has proved true time and time again, even with modern games, is that the creator doesn’t add an item without a reason.
We are used to inconsequentials. If we’re taking a family photo in the front yard and only discover when we print the pictures that little Johnny left a wagon in the yard and it shows up in the picture, that’s an inconsequential. It doesn’t matter and has no real purpose.
Every day we filter out inconsequentials, more or less successfully, sometimes getting sidetracked by things we shouldn’t, sometimes ignoring or undervaluing things really deserve our attention.
But as I’ve been studying my Bible, I’ve discovered more and more that there are no inconsequentials in it. Perhaps there may be a problem with one translation or a typo or whatever, but there are no verses thrown in for filler, no chapters added to try to expand thee page count. Not even additional letters from the apostles included just for good measure.
Which is why, this morning, my eye lit on these unhighlighted words on a page full of color. On its surface, the words are easy to understand – the only confusion about them is why are they put where they do and what do they mean as a result of that?
Love never dies. Inspired speech will be over some day; praying in tongues will end; understanding will reach its limit. We know only a portion of the truth, and what we say about God is always incomplete. But when the Complete arrives, our incompletes will be canceled.
When I was an infant at my mother’s breast, I gurgled and cooed like any infant. When I grew up, I left those infant ways for good.
We don’t yet see things clearly. We’re squinting in a fog, peering through a mist. But it won’t be long before the weather clears and the sun shines bright! We’ll see it all then, see it all as clearly as God sees us, knowing him directly just as he knows us! (1 Corinthians 13:8-12 MSG)
So, what do gurgling and cooing have to do with seeing completely? I wish I could say that I understand completely and explain it, but I don’t … yet.
Thoughts that come to mind:
When the boys were born, I loved to read to them. And, being me, of course I had to research the best books first. What I found was that infants can’t distinguish colors yet, their eyes aren’t fully developed when they’re first born, and so, black and white book will catch their attention more than the very colorful books that they’ll love later.
In addition, infant eyes can’t see at a distance. Instinctively, we raise them up to our level or lower ourselves to theirs, so that they can see us.
In the same way, we change our voice, so that it’s at a higher pitch and easier for little ears to hear. Watch anyone around a baby, the adult’s behavior changes without any conscious effort and whether or not they have children of their own.
I am reminded of a movie I watched ages ago (so long ago that I can’t remember the name of the movie). It was about a man who had been completely blind since he was a very young child, and now science had come up with a possible cure. It was a true story if I remember right, but what fascinated me, even back before I had children, was the steps that he went through and could actually describe, as he learned to see. First things were outlines – in other words, black and white and distant objects were blobs. Then the part that fascinated me even more, and I didn’t actually believe it until I had children of my own – after he could “see” and was learning to distinguish objects by sight (another thing I had never considered as a step towards seeing but which made perfect sense to me after I had children of my own), even after all this, he still had to learn to distinguish between 2D and 3D. To see a picture of an object and recognize that it was not the object itself but a flat image.
We see these same steps in babies, but because they don’t have the words to express what they’re going through, it doesn’t bring about the ah ha moments without something to explain what’s happening, at least most of the time.
Have you ever played the word game where you change one letter each line and turn 1 word into a different word by the last line? For instance, Cat to Cog could be cat, cot, cog.
Saturday, I wrote about Loving Extravagantly. Except, before I published my post, I realized that I had mistyped the title and written Live Extravagantly instead. Yesterday, guess what the message at church was about? Giving Extravagantly.
I remember laughing as I was writing my blog post Saturday, because extravagantly isn’t a word that you use all that often, and here I was using it repeatedly in a post. Then after thinking that, to hear it used several times in an incredible message at church, made it jump out at me all the more. What does extravagant living look like? How do we serve God extravagantly?
Dictionary.com defines extravagantly as:
I woke at 3 with the idea for a blog series. I tried not to wake up. Then I opened one eye to see what time it was, still hoping to go back to sleep if it was as early as it felt like (it was). Finally, I opened up my iPad and jotted down the ideas running through my head, hoping that would be enough and I could get some more rest before the world woke up. For 2 hours I did my best to quiet my brain, but it was running with the idea and was wide awake by now. So finally I gave up and headed downstairs to my computer. For the past week I have been studying the love chapter of the Bible, 1 Corinthians 13. On Wednesday, I think it was, I came across a verse that would have knocked me out of my socks if I’d been wearing any. In fact, this verse was so incredible, that I had to look it up in several different translations to make sure that it hadn’t been misinterpreted in the version I was reading. 1 Corinthians 13:9 We know only a portion of the truth, and what we say about God is always incomplete. (Message translation) I wrote a blog post on it, and shared the poem of the Blind Men and the Elephant. Yesterday, it was 1 Cor 13:13 that wouldn’t let go. Particularly, “Trust steadily in God, hope unswervingly, love extravagantly. And the best of the three is love.” And, narrowing it down even further, the title of this blog post is what woke me up this morning – Love Extravagantly – the Series. The idea I had was that once a week I could write about someone who loves extravagantly, share what they’re doing, and give an address to donate to their project. So is there someone that you would recommend for this series? I’d love to have some suggestions.
– And the greatest of these is love. –
We know only a portion of the truth, and what we say about God is always incomplete. But when the Complete arrives, our incompletes will be canceled.
I was sharing with Ken about this verse yesterday. As I was sharing, I came across the perfect analogy – The Blind Men and the Elephant. (I’ve included the poem at the end of this post in case you’d like to read it, it’s a very fun read.)
But that’s how we are, isn’t it? As I read that each of us knows only a portion of the truth, I see so many of us, bickering over who is right, with our only knowledge being the portion that we see.
Even worse is if we teach our portion, without acknowledging that other portions are just as valid. The only question is, which portions are the elephant and which aren’t.
I do believe that the answer comes in the verse, “My sheep hear my voice and they know me.” If we know how to recognize God’s voice, then seeing clear doesn’t matter. Being blind doesn’t matter. If we know and love His voice, we turn towards it and follow, trusting Him, whether or not we can see clear and whether or not my beliefs are different than yours. And if we’re both following the same voice, does it matter if we give the voice a different name? Does a rose by any other name smell as sweet or does a name change the essence of an item?
It’s easy to believe sometimes that because we read our Bible frequently, we know the entire truth. And yet, I am in my 40’s and not only have I never stopped finding new truths in it, but every few years, I come across a truth that completely revises my entire belief system.
Learning about Grace was like that. In fact, I now mark the time when I learned about Grace as the beginning of this journey. There have been other revisions through the years, but Grace was the most complete, mind-blowing experience I’ve lived through yet.
The Blind Men and the Elephant
John Godfrey Saxe (1816-1887)
1 Cor 13:9-10 We know only a portion of the truth, and what we say about God is always incomplete. But when the Complete arrives, our incompletes will be canceled.
Wow! Talk about a mind shift. What if we approached discussions with others as though we know a portion about God and perhaps they know a portion about God too, but all that we can say is incomplete because none of us know – none of us have the ability to know – God in His completeness.
What if we were willing to say, “I know that I only know a portion of what there is to know about God, and I know that my beliefs are incomplete. Maybe if we study together, we can both increase our knowledge of God.”
This seems to fit a discussion I had last night on Facebook. If I were to classify my political views, I would say that I am a Libertarian, but I do lean a lot closer to being a conservative than I do to being a liberal most of the time.
Last night, I was having a discussion with a friend whose views are different from mine. But, as I explained to her, I appreciate opposing viewpoints – if I only kept people around me who believed exactly as I do, my discussions, thoughts, and ideas in regards to that subject would quickly grow stale.
Is it perhaps the same with God? If we only stay with what we know, do we grow dull, our edges unhoned?
When we first started learning about Grace, Ken and I were shown an example of legalism in our everyday lives. And as we began to see the Grace throughout God’s word, we watched as the very idea of grace came close to destroying this soul who was stuck in their beliefs.
Father, I don’t want to be stuck, my sword dull, my armor rusty. I want to see You, and although I know that won’t happen for a while yet, I do know that You can open my eyes to even more truth and help me see a bigger and bigger portion of you. Help me not to discount ideas because they don’t fit with my version of the truth, but help me to be able to truly know what is of you and what isn’t, so that I grow in my walk with you and I’m not lead astray. Lord, I want to see clearly! Even if it’s only a piece at a time. But help me to never forget that I can’t see it all, and help me never to grow so settled in my beliefs that I can’t see other parts of You. And through it all, Father, help me to love.
[Love] Trusts God always,
Always looks for the best,
Never looks back,
But keeps going to the end.
Love never dies.
This is becoming a habit, 2 Saturday nights in a row.
Having a discussion on Facebook about Tumblr vs. WordPress. Do you have any thoughts on one or the other? I’d love to hear them. There are strengths with both, and of course, weaknesses. I’ve used WordPress frequently, Tumblr not as much, but I’ve had a Tumblr blog for ages that I do play with fairly regularly. So, if you were starting a new blog, which format would you use?
One of these days I’ll go back through my posts on Facebook and open the links of all the posts that get a lot of responses and study them and figure out what they all have in common. I used to do a lot more of that, use a site and then go back and analyze what made it tick. I still do it some, but not to the same extent. Perhaps because there aren’t as many new sites popping up all the time, so not as many to jump to when one gets boring. There are a goodly number though, I think it’s mostly that the start of the school year wears me out with getting everything ready for the boys, and that’s when I’m ready for more relaxing stuff like exploring old books.
And now I’ve come back in a circle, because the discussion about Facebook and Tumblr is because I want to start a blog to share the hidden treasures I find in a lot of the older books. I did set up a Tumblr blog for it, Findings from Old Books. I had to do something, some of the posts are so sweet and I could overrun my Facebook page if I shared all of them.
Looking back over this week, it’s been rather quiet. I find myself in a battle most mornings over sitting down and spending time with God. Not just reading my Bible, but spending real time hanging out and being friends with God.
For ages, I would beat myself up because I wasn’t reading my Bible. And finally I realized that I was reading it, pretty much every day. I even spend some quiet time most mornings. That’s not it, not what I’m battling for. It’s the Daddy relationship – I don’t know a better way to put it. It’s giving the early morning time to God without allowing anything else to get in the way. And in the process, growing that relationship that leads to Daddy or Father taking the place of God or Lord. It’s the intimacy of closeness that is not just worth the battle, but is something I crave, that I ache for, and still I find myself battling against other things wanting to sneak into that time.
I’ve been reading 1 Corinthians 13 this past week in the Message. I love the Message translation, it frees me from having to read with a concordance in one hand and Bible in the other. I still click through to other translations sometimes and sometimes prefer how they word things, but by and large, the Message is my go-to translation.
This morning, I was thinking of one of the life-changing moments I had a few years ago, when “God is love” became not an expression followed by a but, but a simple sentence. God is love, love therefore is God. Let that settle in a minute – it’s freeing. God is love, and I can share God by loving. This is my goal – to love others. I’m not always good at it, but even that’s okay, because in my weakness, He is strong. God is love. (By the way, if you’re wondering where to find that statement, it’s 1 John 4:7-8: Everyone who loves has been born of God and knows God. Whoever does not love does not know God, because God is love.)
Now, for today’s reading:
Love never gives up.Love cares more for others than for self.Love doesn’t want what it doesn’t have.Love doesn’t strut,Doesn’t have a swelled head,Doesn’t force itself on others,Isn’t always “me first,”Doesn’t fly off the handle,Doesn’t keep score of the sins of others,Doesn’t revel when others grovel,Takes pleasure in the flowering of truth,Puts up with anything,Trusts God always,Always looks for the best,Never looks back,But keeps going to the end.
Love never dies.
This past Saturday, we had a rare foggy morning, here in upstate NY. For nine out of twelve months, this area is beautiful – we live within daily view of the beginning of the Blue Ridge mountain chain, although the parkway doesn’t start until you go down to another state. But still, it’s easy to see where the mountains get their name, especially if you’re out early enough in the day to watch the colors of the sunrise spread over the mountains, or at the perfect time in the evening as the rose hues color the sky and the gold of the fading sun overlaps it.
As Ken and I rode back from a quick grocery trip late Saturday morning, the fog hadn’t lifted yet, and none of the mountain colors were visible. That’s okay with me, I love the fog too. It reminds me of home – of living right on the edge of the Blue Ridge Mountains, where nearly every back road leads to a trail onto the parkway, and where fall mornings almost always mean fog rolling in. Sometimes the fog is so thick that the headlights of the car in front of you go in and out of view, even though you’re not more than a few car lengths behind. If it’s late morning on that kind of a day, you laugh at the cars that have pulled over onto the side of the road, tourists who haven’t realized that the fog has set in for the long haul and they’re going to be waiting a while.
It was exactly this kind of foggy day when I decided to head up hiking on the Parkway. So I drove through the 3 tunnels built into the mountain, holding my breathe through two of them (hold your breath and make a wish) but not even bothering on the super-long tunnel, although it’s always been my favorite anyway.
Stopping at Devil’s Courthouse, I parked and wondered if the fog would continue all the way up. The hike up to Devil’s Courthouse is where I first learned that I have asthma, years ago. It’s steep and long and you wonder if you’re going to go through the clouds and see heaven. That’s what it feels like sometimes.
On this day, I hiked up, but the fog was still so thick that you couldn’t see anything. Still, this was one of my favorite places to come and think and sort out my thoughts. And a foggy day meant that I was likely the only person there. Heading down the mountain, I felt more at peace. There’s something about standing on top of the world that reminds you that God is in control and it’s okay to relax and depend on Him.
About three-fourth of the way up the mountain, there is a stone bench that looks out over a hidden cove. I stopped and sat on the bench for a few minutes, at peace with myself and with God. As I sat there, the fog rolled away, revealing with a crispness that isn’t seen in the city, the fresh green of the grass and the brilliant hues of the wildflowers. And I felt like Eve had to feel when she looked over the garden that God had given to them, surrounded by incredible beauty and seeing it all with new eyes.