Friday, December 6, 2013

Further Up, Further In (Homily 55)

What hath God wrought?
"I have trusted in Thy mercy. My heart shall rejoice in Thy salvation. I will sing unto the Lord, because He has dealt bountifully with me." Ps. 13:5-6

The foundations of the past are hope and strength for today; light and guidance come from what has already been established. "Your word is a lamp to my feet and a light to my path" (Ps. 119:105), a word written long before I was born and spoken long before the foundations of the earth were laid. In fact, the Christian life is all about foundations, about seeing them laid thick and solid. It is all about God setting precedent, of watching Him build His case in your life like a man builds a tower, or better yet, a cathedral. Watch each brick be laid and ornamentation carved, and slowly but surely the monstrous edifice takes shape before your eyes, and what was once an amorphous rubble becomes a sublime work of art.

"I support which candidate?"
It is all art with God. All beauty. All true beauty and beautiful truth. It is not about machinery or efficiency. God is not reducible to a system. We are not here to deduce and define some divine algebra. We are not here to "figure it out," not because there is nothing to figure out but because the figure is too great for us, a figure shaped in the Person of God. We do not comprehend Him; we stand in awe, in overwhelming humility and wonder. We stand still and know that He is God and that we will never reach the end of Him. We can never reduce Him to our myriad manias, to our legalistic claptrap or liberal corrosion, to our efforts to explain or obscure Him. Thank God that He is greater than all our rabid reductionism, or innate and insane desire to make everything smaller than us.

God has revealed Himself, not that we may "figure" Him "out," but that we may begin to know Him (John 17:3), not as a principle or some cosmic machinery, but as a person, as a friend would a friend or a lover a lover. To this end He is building His presence into your life, brick by brick, moment by moment, until He is the most real thing you know, the one true thing, the Fact above all other facts. The point of Christian living, of the life of faith, is to know that God is real: vividly, intimately, personally real. Anyone who says otherwise is selling something: an ideology, a gimmick, or another reductionism. They cannot give you God, the reality of God spreading over and through every inch of your life like waves to the sand of the shore.

Nope. Still haven't arrived.
Like a good marriage, God is known over time, not grasped in an instant. You must never fall into the snare that says, "I have arrived" when it comes to your relationship with God, that you have discovered all there is to know about Him and now the adventure is over. That can only lead to boredom and despair (and perhaps an abandoning of God for something more "exciting"). The truth is that we never arrive, even throughout eternity, not because there is nothing to arrive at, but because God is incomprehensible, beyond our full comprehension, which means it will take all eternity to know Him fully, and therein lies hope and peace and joy.

Further up. Further in.
Hope because even if we cannot see far ahead, we can see for miles behind us, and all of God's bountiful goodness and love trumps our doubts. Peace because all things are working together for our good (Rom. 8:28), working towards are knowing of God, until we finally see what life was meant for: all knowing, all intimacy, all a drawing further up and in to divine love. And joy because identity and purpose and meaning are found at last, not by an arbitrary fiat of our own but by the God who created us for Himself. So see your life for the divine art that it is. Look and see God building His presence into your days, becoming more and more real. See all that you've been through, even the hard and horrible (II Cor. 4:16-18), as the foundations of a yet greater structure, one that will stretch on into eternity, deeper and deeper into the heart of God.

-Jon Vowell (c) 2013

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