Wednesday, April 23, 2014

By faith and not by sight

What this strange, ‘tremblesome’ quality of my life means—I am beginning to understand. I am living forward, one day at a time, like a blind man who cannot see what's ahead, but can only feel his way, taking short, deliberate steps, groping into the next moment, listening to a barely audible voice that's calling me. By faith, not sight. And faith comes by hearing. And hearing by the Word of God.

This quality has been growing, and I, sensing it growing, am surprised that the initial fear has lessened somehow. But the meaning of ‘living one day at a time,’ that I once glibly repeated along with others, has truly become the nature of my life.

There's no wonder, then, nor merit, in the fact that every morning I am surprised, yet usually happy, to wake up, and find myself still alive. No wonder, then, that when I see the sun rising as I drive to work, I am happy and thankful beyond measure. One more day. I remembered my first elder, Philip the cabinetmaker, who taught me when I was in my young twenties, how to saw up boards and make furniture. I remembered how he would confess to me, on a bright sunny morning, how he wept as he drove to work. I couldn't understand it then, but I'm beginning to understand it now. I too have wept on the way to work. Sometimes for sadness, sometimes out of gratitude inexpressible any other way. God is good.

I think to myself, Has it always been like this, only I didn't notice?

When you're ‘young’ the thought of death (as the end) never crosses your mind. Life extends limitlessly before you. You can plan things far in advance and expect to do them when you get there. When you're ‘older’ the thought of death starts intruding on this scene of self-confidence, and you begin to understand what ‘pride of life’ means. Is this when some people have their mid-life crisis?

You'd probably expect that life will always go on in the same seamlessly perfect way, though, like it did when the world was new. 
Perfect in that it's in your control. But thank God, for at any chronological age, He is always there and willing to let us give our lives to Him, a little at first maybe, and then more later, and at some point, maybe all of it. As we approach that point of no return, the giving up of all, time begins to ‘stretch out.’ Limited time, chrónos, becomes limitless time, kairós, which also means acceptable time.

Every day means more, every hour, minute, second. Every particle of being, of life, takes on the quality of being in the center, of being important beyond measure. The beetle that crossed my path as I fumbled for the key to unlock my door, God's handiwork, down to the least barbed leggy. The coolness of the empty warehouse I walked through on the way to my office, God's gift, at the beginning of a day that promises to be very hot.

When it comes to lunch, there's no question of ‘saying grace’ wherever I am or with whom, He feeds me and I thank Him. Every mouthful of ten-cent-a-bag ramen tastes as luscious as my favorite food. It's all manna. And if I'm with a friend, it doesn't matter if I eat at all, because the warmth of a friendly smile feeds more than any food. All from God's hands.

To know with every fibre of my being, He is here, He provides, in His hands are life and (what we call) death, as in the old spiritual ‘He's got the whole world in His hands,’ did this knowledge come first? Or was it the willingness to follow Him blindly, and to accept each next moment as His free gift, that ushers in the leading edge of His parousía?

"Let us go where He is waiting and worship at His footstool."
Psalm 132:7 Jerusalem Bible

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