Saturday, August 3, 2013

God Moves Between the Pieces

Are all your dreams slowly dying before your eyes?  Is your life in shambles?  Are the pieces of your life lying at your feet like a shattered cup?  Has the Good News failed you?  Are you disappointed?

Jeremiah once said: “Surely against me He has turned His hand repeatedly all the day…He has turned aside my ways and torn me to pieces; He has made me desolate…So…my strength has perished, and so has my hope from the Lord (Lamentations 3:3 partial, 11, 18 partial).”

 Nevertheless, Jeremiah also declared that “The Lord’s lovingkindnesses indeed never cease, for His compassions never fail.  They are new every morning; great is Thy faithfulness (Lamentations 3:22-23).” 

How could Jeremiah speak of faith, hope and love when the only friend He had was arrayed against him like an enemy?  How are we to argue our case or mitigate our losses against such paradoxical treatment?

Finding the Answer in God’s Treatment of Abraham
Before Abram became Abraham, and before the promised child Isaac was born, a blood covenant was cut between God and Abram (Genesis 15).  Prior to this covenant making, Abram had complained to God that he had no child—no blood heir—and that, according to custom, his heir would therefore be the eldest servant born within his house—a man named Eliezer of Damascus.  God soundly rebuked that idea.  Eliezer means “god of help or aid” and Damascus—the oldest continuously occupied city in the world—represents a very significant and poignant thing: it represents the fullness of man’s eye, the consummation of all that man can naturally perceive and do—man’s ingenuity without God’s help.  To damask something is to cover it over with something superficial and without life; it is etchings on steel—but not the steel itself.  Thus everything that our natural eyes view is delusional if our conclusion is based solely on that observation.

The spiritual realm cannot be ascertained without revelation; it is outside the material world and cannot be perceived without an interruption from the outside.  Unless God shows us, we are, and remain, blind and therefore helpless under the sun.  God needs no aid, no help in accomplishing His divine will.  In fact, He will upend those who feign to help Him: “Now Saul, still breathing threats and murder…as he journeyed…approaching Damascus… (Acts 9:1 and 3, parts)” ran right into this upending!  Believing his own eyes—and relying on all that religious training he had undergone—led him to oppose Jesus Christ and His disciples; God had to stop him before he forever sealed his fate upon the superficial ground whereupon lies that great and ancient city of man, Damascus.

After God finished saying to Abram that Eliezer of Damascus would not be his heir, He took him outside and asked him to count the stars. Once it became obvious that he could not even begin—let alone finish—such an overwhelming task, God incredibly declared to him that “So shall your descendants be (Genesis 15:5, partial).” Abram then did the unfathomable; he “…believed in the Lord; and He reckoned it to him as righteousness (Genesis 15: 6, partial).”  It is at this juncture that God begins to explain to Abram, in detail, his destiny; after he believed, God explained!  Why is it that we reverse the process?  We want an explanation from start to finish before we execute even the preliminary steps required.  If seeing is believing, seeing better is believing better.  If a vision of His Hand moves us, a vision of His face will move us further.

Indeed, a deep sleep, terror and a great darkness fell on Abram just before God began to make a covenant with him and reveal his and his children’s destinies.  The smoking oven and a flaming torch that proceeded to pass between the pieces of a sacrifice Abram had prepared in obedience to God’s command—and even defended from birds of prey—was symbolic of the purging and enlightening aspects of the Holy Ghost and fire within the bosom of man. Abram’s only action was in keeping the birds of prey away while he waited upon God to move between his pieces of flesh; when God came, he ceased all activity and laid prostrate before Him in utter darkness and quietness.  Likewise, we ought to draw instruction here; we, like Abram, are to live humbling ourselves before the Lord, resisting the devil, and awaiting His empowerment.

“Terror and great darkness (Genesis 15:12, partial)” is the backdrop upon which God begins to paint a picture before Abram’s eyes; God reveals to him the fate of his progeny—that in the end it will be good for them; but they were to endure four hundred years of slavery and oppression first (400 being the number of trials and tribulation for a nation just as 40 is for an individual).  In other words, God must be cruel to be kind; He often inflicts or wounds our mortality for our immortality purposes.

“Now it came about after these things, that God tested Abraham…” by requiring that he give up the very thing he had been given (Genesis 22:1, partial).  Even Job declared: “The Lord gave and the Lord has taken away (Job 1: 21, partial).” Before we accuse God of being an Indian giver, however, it would do us well to see the “outcome of the Lord’s dealings” with his people. “You have heard of the endurance of Job and have seen the outcome of the Lord's dealings, that the Lord is full of compassion and is merciful” (James 5:11, NASB).  If you are suffering and cannot understand why, shattered and undone, please remember: God Moves Between the Pieces.      

Wednesday, July 31, 2013

The Gathering Storms of Tomorrow in the Light of Today’s Responsibility

“Occupy till I come” (Luke 19:13).

It is interesting that when Jesus was crucified, just before he died on the cross, there was 3 HOURS of darkness (maybe presaging the three days he was to endure in the bowels of hell before God raised him from the dead).  Anyways, perhaps the resurrection, which took place immediately after he endured the darkness of hell and separation from God for our sakes, is like the coming Day of the Lord.  God arriving on the scene (the Second Coming or Day of the Lord), like Jesus arising from the dead, are both cataclysmic and cosmic events to be sure, and they both come only after dark periods of time, either 3 days/hours of time (or of some duration of time anyways). 

Of course, the resurrection was and is the most brilliant of all days, the most illuminated day of all time, resplendent in glory and a day of great joy for all of mankind.  Likewise, his Second Coming or the Day of the Lord ought to be a day of joy too, even eclipsing the resurrection dawn with its noontime zenith.  In other words, an end of a thing is greater than the beginning of a thing, and therefore his Second Coming is a brighter display of his glory than even that glorious day he first crested the horizon as he stepped out of the grave and into our hearts on Resurrection Day.

But because the Second Coming is an end of a thing, the culmination of all that the Resurrection Day started, promised, and represented, it is inherently also a day of judgment.  You and I and all these prophetic types are so prone to morose and dark foreboding—and this is no indictment for being that way—but it sometimes infuses everything we see with only the negative outcome possibility rather than the positive outcome possibility.  A soldier who had grossly sinned by participating in the crucifixion of the Lord of life witnessed 3 hours of darkness followed by Jesus’ death, an earthquake and the rending of the temple veil, and then the extraordinary resurrection of many “bodies of the saints” who was then seen by people walking about in the holy city; it was enough to seemingly convert him as he declared: “Truly this was the Son of God!”  Likewise, the Day of the Lord, which because of its enormity of scale and import, is both scary and invigorating, consisting of both darkness/gloom and light/joy.  Many will be undone, but some will be done, and done altogether.

Anyways, a pattern was established long ago, and the outcome is joy though the process be sad.  But when will these things be?  The apostles thought they would happen in their day, and I heard say “it’s imminent,” and a friend of mine heard “Rachael weeping for her children,” and we both heard “Jacob’s Trouble.”  Of these things I have no doubt.  But will planet X destroy us exactly in Sept. of this year as someone predicted?  Or will it ever be because of planet X that we get destroyed?  My head is looking up because of the things I am hearing, as instructed to be by Scripture, but I cannot rely on extant words the way I rely on the sure word of the Logos or Bible.  I believe in the cumulative and corporate spirit of all that has been said, but I am unsure of the literalness of it.  As someone said concerning interpretation, something like not knowing anything until it comes to pass, and correspondingly related to the final line of Wm Cowper’s poem Light Shining out of Darkness, which is: “God is his own interpreter, and he will make it plain,” I agree.  Ultimately, however, we must both work and anticipate, acting like He’ll never return on one hand, and acting like He’ll return at any moment on the other hand.          

My Ten Best Sonnets

Basking in the Lesser Light of Recall

But for the god dying inside of me,
That scant slant of light bent over backwards
Inside my gut, I’d welcome afterwards
Certain understanding of memory.
But I’ve not immortal capacity:
Not the seer’s eyes, nor the prophet’s words;
No comprehension backwards or forwards.
My refracted soul will have ceased to be

When the moon forgets to reflect the sun.
Since I cannot foresee this being done,
I’d be smart to remember yesterdays:
Those clear and straight as the arrow flies ways,
When I knew without a shadow of doubt,
The sun did shine and the moon did about.

Common Ground

The soul is as fragile as a flower
Blooming noble amidst peon grasses.
You can see its regal head above classes
First to receive the crowning sun’s power.
But the light of day is no deterrent
To the soul that knows not the common plight.
Shade that’s cast is cast greater than the night
In the kingdom of flowers resurgent!
For as one soul is laid in dust, so two
Rises to replace the essence of one!
And all the flowers in all the kingdom
Cannot the surface cover with its hue.
Beneath the fleshly blades is life begun!:
The flowers of kings and all of serfdom.

Honeysuckle Winds Move the Weathervane

Honeysuckle winds move the weathervane,
And so too my heart when I inhale her
Odorless perfume and wake-less demure
Gliding across a liquid windowpane.
Her ghost cannot long linger in this rain
As my heart can’t miss a beat and be pure;
Hope is a molten mirror, to be sure:
Elastic as inner vision is vain.

My heart is but a sculpture made of ice
And frozen fire: a monumental price
Of desire unrealized; a phantom hold
On my soul: disillusion to unfold.
O’ that she were to materialize
Conjuring up her form before my eyes!

In the Twinkling Apple of an Eye

There’s nothing more beautiful than she
Upon whom my eyes cannot look away;
Eyes of mortal flesh to this weakness sway!
Call it lust, call it power; but I’ll be
No deeper than skin which overwhelms me.
It is not a choice, nor desire, per se:
It is the essence of flesh without may.
Maybe I’ll restrain myself just to see

If the insistent urge to sin might go;
Maybe I’ll put blinders on and walk straight.
But there’s nothing I’ve seen that I don’t know;
These eyes are flesh and they participate.
But Christ has rent the veil and forever
Made beauty something more than Eve or her.

Revelation Fire

Before the caveman knew the useful fire,
Before the little boy played with matches,
Before stars had fallen through the hatches
Of heaven’s covering cherubim, the pyre
Awaited angels’ wind to inspire
Man.  But strange fire, doors without latches,
Do freely upon mans’ inner thatches
Burn too deep, and razes proper desire.

Let your bush be ablaze with God’s glory,
Your heart with unmolested history.
Pages turn in wind, but not all is of God;
Fate is not whimsical, sure or slipshod:
In His light we see light, and understand;
If not, heat shall be added to light and…

The Forbidden Fruit

Vacant is the shallow socket where lies
The panes of gray glassy undistinguished
Portals where runs the saint and extinguished
Soul into the Catacomb of the mind’s eyes.
There, in the recessed inner man, like sties
That swine would seek as a muddy home squished
Beneath their cloven hoofs, we relinquished
Our vision through rivers of soulish cries.

O’ that the sweat could but dry for awhile!
That the tears of hardened flesh could produce
Unimpeded fruit, instead of this guile!
Then would I save my skin, and introduce
The sanctity of imagination;
Then I’d live without investigation!

The Metaphysics of Salvation

Implosions are just explosions expressed
Another way, as Black Holes are notions
That explain unexplainable motions
Of heavenly bodies as they are pressed
Beyond the limits of known law.  Compressed
Substance—now more substantial; Emotions—
Now more heart-felt.  Religious devotions
Condensing import like feelings regressed.

The pressure inside is a perversion
Of makeup, just as death is inversion
Of life somewhere else.  Weakness bulges where
The essence gathers and compels our prayer.
Through the eye of a needle we go home,
Bare as a baby, skinny as a poem.

The Simple Christian

Who is as blind as the one God sends?
He has no agenda, no opinion;
He’s not ambitious, has no dominion;
Like an animal that cannot pretend,
A loner that follows no popular trend,
This, the man of God, the simple Christian,
Comes to you in varied loss of vision:
Light from darkness is hard to comprehend!

Forgive him, for he knows not what he does;
He hardly knows who he is, or who he was;
But it is truer in retrospection,
(Even further so upon reflection),
Within his spirit enlightenment flares,
Consuming inner darkness that impairs.

There’s a Yellow Bird

There’s a yellow bird frozen in my head
That I once saw lifeless on a window
Laid horizontal.  I could not see though,
And it escapes me ‘bout this scene once dead,
Now alive from something somebody said:
“Close the skylight to keep those birds out!”  No
Amount of sun and glass can ever throw
Enough magnification on what’s dread!

The pale sun flickers and can’t thaw the ice
Coated yellow bird.  Bygone paradise
Cannot my imagination inspire.
I, doomed to die, die and die the higher;
The more I dream and make my hope to fly,
Cowardice begets wings and lights the sky. 

When Science is the Only God you See

Upon my baring soul, who would dare say
To God Almighty without restraint: “why?”
And have the gumption of peerless Job’s eye
To see all encompassingly the day
That before the sun should rise tomorrow,
The end of all matter in the Big Bang?
But if you feign to know, may your head hang
Low which curses God and brings down one sparrow.

Without a quaking from faith and conscience
Your premise on this shaky earth shatters
Under the microscope of scrutiny.
Where is the undoing of the pretense
And the discovering of what matters
When science is the only god you see?