Friday, February 7, 2014

The Sleep Walk of Faith

“These all died in faith”; “And the Lord God caused a deep sleep to fall upon Adam, and he slept” (Hebrews 11:13; Genesis 2:21).

The “these” in the above reference are those who symbolically died in their sleep, those who did not awaken to another day of possibility, but to their destiny realization.  Likewise, Adam slept hard while God made soft Eve, “the mother of all living” (Genesis 3:20).  The walk of faith leads surely to dreams come true, but also dreams are realized in the prostrate position of sleep.  The mother of all living came from a body cursed with death; Adam did not call his wife Eve until after the curse took effect.  Yes, we must awaken from our sleep of sorrow, but a sleep of sorrow it is until we do.

I thank God for many things, but none more than the ability to sleep when I am weary of the battle and sufficiently filled to the full unto the end of each day with the evil thereof.  Night is a welcome reprieve from the many toils and dangers we have come through thus far in this sleep walk of faith.

Mortal death—to Jesus Christ—was mere sleep, a termination not of life, but a rest from the worries and cares of life.  Sleep, often referred to as beauty rest, is a tender interlude from the incessant noontime sun of harsh reality and bald scrutiny.  Though nothing cleans and disinfects like sunlight, and we are all in need of much cleansing, God gives the night at the end of each day to rejuvenate us enough to endure more antiseptic medicine tomorrow.  Sleep is like an inoculation against death, filled with enough of it to diminish our functions, but not enough to stop them.  It is the antiseptic, or the anti-decomposition of the living tissue of life.

The resurrection we Christians are destined for is only realized through the death and burial functions of that process, and each night’s sleep is a baby step towards that day, and every noontime nap, an infant nibble of the realization of its rays.  But it takes more faith to lay down and sleep than to stand and fight; sleeping and dreaming makes you more vulnerable beneath the sheets than even waking and fighting makes you behind a suit of armor with chinks in it.

Abraham, the father of faith, was never more faithful and effective than when he laid himself out prostrate in deep darkness while God moved between the pieces of his life.
Sleeping Beauty ate an apple and went to bed
But a valiant Prince kissed her till she shed
All the apple peels and flesh to its core
And rose before him in full restore

George Gordon Byron, famous as the poet Lord Byron, wrote this brilliant poem in the early 1800s. 

She Walks in Beauty

She walks in beauty, like the night
Of cloudless climes and starry skies;
And all that's best of dark and bright
Meet in her aspect and her eyes:
Thus mellow'd to that tender light
Which heaven to gaudy day denies.

One shade the more, one ray the less,
Had half impaired the nameless grace
Which waves in every raven tress,
Or softly lightens o'er her face;
Where thoughts serenely sweet express
How pure, how dear their dwelling-place.

And on that cheek, and o'er that brow,
So soft, so calm, yet eloquent,
The smiles that win, the tints that glow,
But tell of days in goodness spent,
A mind at peace with all below,
A heart whose love is innocent!

Feminine beauty is that beauty which is derived from and defined by a masculine perspective.  This is no commentary about gender roles or the equality /inequality of the sexes, but to distinguish mankind’s posture from God’s.  We are the bride of Christ, and we need His masculine posture to define our feminine one.  Our eternal beauty is only a reflecting one of His.  He beautifies by His love; we are worthless, unloved, and without our own internal beauty without Him first loving us. This is an unequivocally established principle throughout Scripture and much ancient literature.

I believe Byron, in “She walks in beauty” is saying exactly this; the innocent heart at peace within the seat of emotional man is best described as “she” in the “tender light” of “the night” which the “gaudy day denies.”  She walks in beauty which walks in less than the full light of enlightenment, and the feminine posture is the posture of faith—that posture we must all walk in if we ever expect to arrive at the destination of our eternal resting home.         


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.”