Tuesday, March 27, 2012

photos

my grandmother [mom's mom: ellen] died before i was born.  i never got to know her. so, the closest i can get to her is photo albums, showing the house she lived in, the clothes she wore, scenes of the family.  and beyond that, i have come to know my grandmother by knowing my mom, seeing bits of her mother shine out through her own actions, memories, words, and love.


that brings me to thoughts of how to know Christ. now, Christ as man died [long] before i was born, before any of us were born. of course He walked the earth before photography, but in a way we do have a photo album of Christ, the most thorough album there is: the Bible.  as i understand it,the whole book is Christ's story, in that all scripture points to Christ: pointing towards His coming, examining His time on Earth, or looking back at the messages He left us.

part of understanding my grandmother is learning about her background.  so, in photos, i take in the scenery behind her: white picket fence, a-frame home, elm trees, well manicured lawns.  understanding the scenes that contains here image helps me know more about who she was.  what her life was like.  helps me imagine myself next to her.  in the same way, the Old Testament can be seen as Christ's background.  it all sets the stage for His coming, so by reading the Old Testament, we understand what came before Christ so we can understand more about what is coming to Earth meant for mankind.

i also gather bits of my grandmother's personality from photos.  observing how she distributed her weight when standing, noticing that she was hardly ever sitting in photos, seeing where she places her hands, catching a smile in her eyes, noting the types of clothes she wore, how she styled her hair, are all whisperings of her character, components that made ellen ellen. some might find the four gospels [matthew, mark, luke, john] repetitive, in that they often overlap, telling the same stories of Christ.  however, this allows us to gather more bits of Christ personality, from different perspectives.  reading 4 different accounts of how Christ fed the 5000 allows us to take in more details of who He was, how He provides, how He patiently loves self-sacrificially.


as i mentioned, my grandmother died before i was born, in fact she died when my mom was only 15.  but, seeing pictures of my mom growing up, even photographs of my mom becoming a mom, raising me, has allowed me to know my grandmother more.  since my mom was very close to her mom, and contains part of her mom in herself, observing the scenery, clothing, posture, style, facial expressions of my mom in photographs allows me to know more bits of my grandmother as well.  in scripture, Acts to Revelation documents God-breathed writings that are inspired from Christ's teachings, His time on earth.  by studying this part of the New Testament, seeing how the disciples and followers of Christ witnessed for God, spread the Word, and applied Christ message to the world around them, we are gleaning bits of Christ to compile into a composite of what we know of Him.  as followers of Christ, they had accepted His gift of salvation, and contained the Spirit within them.  so scripture written by their hand [but God breathed] that speaks of Christ or applies His messages to the world around them, is a way to understand more of Christ, since the words written are small reflections of who He was on earth and is as our Savior.


as the saying goes, "a picture is worth a thousand words." but isn't the reverse true? a word can form a thousand pictures? the Bible is full of words, is the Word.  these words all point to Christ, are His story.  by reading these words, in a way we are flipping through the word-photo album of Christ.  i treasure the albums i have of my grandmother, although i never met her, i feel that i have known her always.  what a treasure scripture is in this same regard, and how infrequently i see it as the great gift it is.

Thursday, March 22, 2012

intently

but whoever looks intently into the perfect law that gives freedom, and continues in it - not forgetting what they have heard, but doing it - they will be blessed in what they do.
~james 1:25~

inspired parlty from discussion at the Bible study i attend & partly on a podcasted sermon, God provided a small 'ah-ha' moment on how to read scripture in a more impactful way.  


the first time i read this verse, i glossed over the word 'intently'...not thinking much of it. but the podcast emphasized that word as the heart of this verse.  the pastor made reference to when peter looked into Christ's grave after He had risen [john 20:3-7].  after hearing that Christ had risen, peter had run to the tomb with another disciple [john?] to see for himself. the other disciple peaked in first, saw the linen wrappings, but did not go inside. peter, however, went in side, taking in the aforementioned linens, but also noticed that the cloth that had covered Jesus' face was folded and placed apart from the other wrappings.  peter intently looked for Christ in the tomb, while the other disciple gave a half-hearted attempt, a distant observation of where Christ had been, content with an overview without getting himself too involved.


apply this to how we read the Bible.  Most times i just glass over the text, maybe catch on a verse that i find particularly well written [being word-obsessed and all], which contains something that hits a particular need i have in life...but rarely [if ever?] do i intently look for Christ in the Word.  and that is the essence of the Word! it is guidance for us, but it is also Christ, His story...reading scripture allows us to know Christ and God's will for us.  yet i do not intently search for Him there, instead i'd rather complain about 'not feeling' His presence, about 'not hearing' His answers to my prayer.


just like peter's search for Christ in the tomb, if we search for Christ intently in scripture, try to see Him and His messages to us in the Word then we will live more fulfilled and blessed lives because we will feel His presence more fully.  intent reading will allow us to know more of Him, and thus understand His perspective on life circumstances more clearly.  we become more equipped for the trials and pain in life because we are aware of Christ dwelling in us, with the scripture we have intently written on our hearts.


Tuesday, March 13, 2012

listen


listen

joy is in the ears that hear
not the mouth that speaks
how easily we forget this
in a fever of verbal streaks

keeping time time time
we miss the gift of bearing-with
committing the pride crime,
driving for “quick-fix”

silence, unfamiliar and strange
we fill space with speech
if we were but quick to listen
we’d find answers within reach

we scream aloud to die
desperate to hear Your voice
but we simply are not listening
and it is our choice

James 1:19-27

Friday, March 2, 2012

silence

but she had never had this silence, this quite that rang in her ears. she complained. “there’s plenty of sound,” [he] said.  “just listen for it.” with nothing else to occupy her, she did.  and he was right.  the silence changed, and she heard sounds breaking through...she began to pick out voices in the chorus around her.  a cricket lived under the bed; a bullfrog was just outside the window.  a throng of feathered companions came and went outside –robins, sparrows, and a noisy jay.
~redeeming love~ 

despite the definitional paradox: there is a sound to silence.  it is a rare occasion that one hears it, at least those for those of us that are urbanites.  the few times i have encountered it have been on farms or the backcountry.  silence, true silence, only reveals itself to those who have endeavored to find it [miles of switchbacks aren't for naught!], who seek it out in its isolated habitats.  

there are only certain amount of backdrops that properly frame silence: the slow evolution of celestial hues at dawn, wind-swept meadows, star-quilted skies, forests with an autumn gold peaking through branches, a deserted beach during rain, a breezy twilight, the dancing branches of trees in a storm.  a even smaller amount of harmonies to silence exist: a bird's hymn, tumbling of dried leaves, a billowing gale, rain on dampening earth, crackling of a fire, fluttering of wings, quaking branches, a gentle rise and fall of a slumbering chest, trickling of a brook over stones, skating clouds, swaying grasses. 

in those handful of moments that i have been blessed with encountering true silence, its sound is so therapeutic, cleaning, rejuvenating: it overwhelms and fills me.  i'm reminded of just how much noise i fill my life with.  i don't just mean sounds...but thoughts, visuals, subliminal messages, business, anxiety, plans, regrets...our lives are overflowing with noise.

and then, when listening to silence, i can hear just how much God is speaking to me, to all of us, all the time.  i'm humbled by this.  realizing that when i am frustrated with God for not providing me answers to prayers, for not communicating with me, for feeling distant...it isn't He that is doing any of it. i've just piled on so many blankets of noise of all categories that i simply cannot hear Him through the sedimentary layers.  i've constructed my own deafness.

i love words. but i have overlooked the language of silence.

during the Age of Silence, people communicated more, not less...no distinction was made between the gestures of language and the gestures of life. the labor of building a house, say, or preparing a meal was no less an expression than making the sign for I love you or I feel serious...clapping, pointing, giving the thumbs-up, for example, is a way to remember how it feels to say nothing together.
~the history of love~ 
they carried on a full conversation in complete silence, discerning feelings, plans, exclamations, jokes, opinions, laughter and dreams --rapidly, silently, inexplicably.
~winter's tale~