Sunday, February 2, 2014

A Signpost for Free Travelers

For most of human history, if a man wanted to circumvent the globe by ship, he had to go around the entire continent of Africa through the treacherous waters at the bottom of the continent off the Cape of Hope.  Two ocean streams collided there, one warm, coming down from the northern tropics, and another, cold, coming up from the South Pole.  Though perilous, it was quick and necessary.  It also was full of life as two streams of variant degrees merged, rose up into a tumultuous froth, and stirred up the nutrient depths: a phenomenon known as upwelling.

“Oh Africa, Africa!” implored the missionary spirit of David Livingston, as he feverishly walked about the length and breadth of its extent, claiming it for God.  And all along, there at its base, at its most turbulent point, a miracle had been manifesting for at least as long as seamen charted courses around the southern perimeter of her mass.  Like as an earthquake upheaves its tectonic plates after they collide beneath the surface of the earth, shattering old constructions of both thought and material reality, so the upwelling phenomena at the Cape of Hope, caused by the collision of two powerful, even Titanic, streams, shattered wrongly held beliefs, and brought them up to the surface for inspection.

One of the greatest disasters recorded in the Bible tells of what seems to be an utter annihilation of life, future life (progeny), and hope.  Achan, a man from the tribe of Judah, took “things devoted [for destruction]” from Jericho after the walls fell down (Joshua 7:11 Amp.).  Symbolically he stole his own natural life and his natural lineage away from the possibility of being made supernatural through the redemption process.  Jericho (representing the heart of man) had to be destroyed in its present state of sentimental attachments; the highest and thickest walls, which hide the most vulnerable and essential part of man, the human heart or spirit, Achan sabotaged.  The fact that he was physically destroyed in the valley of Achor, a place which God eventually called “a door of hope,” is no commentary on Achan’s natural existence, but on God’s supernatural presence (Hosea 2:14).

There is hope for man that transcends his polluted stream of natural vigor.  Man is crowned with a natural glory and pricked with a thorn in the natural side of things, but Christ wore a crown of thorns and was pierced in the supernatural side of things.  Man’s river runs clear and fast, like the superficially clean rivers of Damascus, but what does it dump into?  The river of life, which flows from the side of our Lord, before it runs clear, runs murky with both blood and sorrow.  But at the final restoration of all things, the river flows stiff and hardens clearer than glass, not because of the natural process of stagnation and sorrow frozen in time, but because it dumps into the everlasting summertime pool of eternal joy.

James Goll said “The Cross of Jesus Christ is the intersection of the natural life and the supernatural life”; he also called it “the intersection between Heaven and earth” and the place where “supernatural traffic…could flow freely.”  It is forever the crossroads, a place where a decision HAS to be made; do I continue straight on without recourse, or do I turn aside, to the left, or to the right?

Sadly, many are stubbornly inclined to continue on the course they’ve chosen from childhood, to go the meandering way wide of everything but bad habit.  Ironically, their meandering is accomplished on a straight line circumscribed outward unto to the farthest reaches of the globe and then returned back into itself.  The course and speed of the natural life without regard to the traffic light imposed upon it by the intersecting supernatural life is bound for a head-on collision.  An unimpeded course of a self-willed action on a straight line wrapped around the sphere of your world inevitably terminates against itself at the crash site of yourself running into yourself.

As G. K. Chesterton so wisely put it (paraphrased), a coin is infinitely circular, reasonable, and ultimately bound to be nullified by its severe limitations; indeed (straight quote): “there is such a thing as a mean infinity, a base and slavish eternity.”  The natural life without imposition is too symmetrical and self-absorbed, ultimately even artificial and man-made.  It is nullified by the straight on collision, but exemplified by the sideswiping collision of two clashing realities.

“It is amusing to notice that many of the moderns, whether sceptics or mystics, have taken as their sign a certain eastern symbol, which is the very symbol of this ultimate nullity.  When they wish to represent eternity, they represent it by a serpent with his tail in his mouth.  There is a startling sarcasm in the image of that very unsatisfactory meal.  The eternity of the material fatalists, the eternity of the eastern pessimists, the eternity of the supercilious theosophists and higher scientists of to-day is, indeed, very well presented by a serpent eating his tail, a degraded animal who destroys even himself” (G. K. Chesterton from his book Orthodoxy).

The sun like God is warm but hazy, unclear to us from our earthbound perspective, whereas the moon is bright in the dark outline of our thinking.  But just as human genius is but a reflection of the mind and purpose of God, so the moon is but a reflection of the sun.  Again, Chesterton says it best: “That transcendentalism by which all men live has primarily much the position of the sun in the sky.  We are conscious of it as of a kind of splendid confusion; it is something both shining and shapeless, at once a blaze and a blur.  But the circle of the moon is…clear…unmistakable…recurrent and inevitable… For the moon is utterly reasonable; and the moon is the mother of lunatics and has given to them all her name.”

Too many collide with Christ and see only the destruction of the vehicle they drove into Him with; but the insurance claim is greater than the crash reality.  At the point of impact your heart upwelled through the ancient door of hope and merged with another stream of thought and possibility.  But once the surf subsided and the foam of supernatural reality settled back down into its natural course of events, after you passed through the narrow straits beneath the Cape of Hope, will you ignore your medicine or forget to place yourself into the miraculous waters that were stirred up for your healing?   

For there are many, of whom I have often told you and now tell you even with tears, who walk (live) as enemies of the cross of Christ” (Philippians 3:18 Amp.).  Chesterton one last time: “The cross, though it has at its heart a collision and a contradiction, can extend its four arms for ever without altering its shape.  Because it has a paradox in its centre it can grow without changing.  The circle returns upon itself and is bound.  The cross opens its arms to the four winds; it is A SIGNPOST FOR FREE TRAVELLERS.”