Saturday, August 14, 2010

Higher Up And Further Back

As I look at this photo of my daughter contemplating the beauty of a sunset, I wonder what is going on within her?  How is God stirring her heart?  

Ever since I was a teenage boy, I’ve been deeply moved by the beauty of nature.  I remember my first hike in the White Mountains of NH with a group from a boys’ camp.  When we stepped above tree line, my breath was immediately taken away by the size and grandeur of the view that lay in front of me.  Something within me automatically swelled with appreciation and wonder.  I felt drawn to something or Someone who is bigger, deeper and more wonderful than anything I currently knew about.  

It’s not just beauty in nature that speaks to me of God and His Kingdom.  I have had many other seemingly small but significant experiences - moments of love, moments of grief, moments of joy - that graciously unsettle me from my materialistic existence and draw me toward deeper life.  They are windows into the eternal, a momentary lifting of the earthly veil that help me to see that the “solution to the riddle of life in space and time lies outside of space and time.”  - Ludwig Wittgenstein.  

Cornelius Plantiga beautifully described how our experiences in life point us to God and His Kingdom: 

  1. The truth is that nothing in the world can satisfy us.  Much can make us content for a time but nothing can fill us to the brim.  The reason is that our final joy lies “beyond the walls of this world,” as J.R. Tolkien put it.  Ultimate beauty comes not from a lover or a landscape or a home, but only through them.  These earthly things are solid goods, and we naturally relish them.  But they are not our final good.  They point to what is higher up and further back...Even if we fall deeply in love and marry another human being, we discover that our spiritual and sexual oneness isn’t final.  It’s wonderful, but not final.  It might even be as good as human oneness can be, but something in us keeps saying “not this” or “still beyond”...What Augustine knew is that human beings want God...God has made us for himself.  Our sense of God runs in us like a stream, even though, because of sin, we divert it toward other objects.  We human beings want God even when think that what we want is really a green valley, or a good time from our past, or a loved one.  Of course we do want these things and persons, but we also want what’s behind them.  Our inconsolable secret, says C.S. Lewis, is that we are full of yearnings, sometimes shy and sometimes passionate that point us beyond the things of earth to the ultimate reality of God.  

God created all the experiences of this life to draw us to Jesus who is “the Way, the Truth, the Life.”  This is the mystery that we are so slow to trust - Christ is our ultimate love, joy, and peace.  None of the earthly things we look to will ultimately satisfy - but Christ does.  “In Him is life, and that life is the light of men.”

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