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Posts Tagged ‘Contemplation’

Life’s a Blur

“At the pace we travel, rushing about, there is very little that we actually see – or that we see for more than a blur. The Scriptures tell us that the pure in heart are blessed for they shall see God. We are not the pure in heart – nor is our heart slow enough to even begin the process of becoming pure.” – Father Stephen Freeman, Orthodox priest

Consider the phenomenon of the movie. Traditional films are made up of a series of individual images called frames. When these images are shown rapidly in succession, the viewer has the illusion that motion is occurring. The viewer cannot see the flickering between frames due to an effect known as persistence of vision, i.e., the eye retains a visual image for a fraction of a second after the source has been removed. The result is a perception of motion due to a psychological effect. If you slow the film down, you can actually see the spaces. Our inability to see the flickering doesn’t negate the existence of that reality.

There is a spiritual realm that exists and surrounds us constantly. Scripture has quite a lot to say about this other realm and the fact that it is more authentic and relevant to our lives than the world in which we employ our five senses. We think that we are observant and aware of most everything around us as we navigate through our strenuous and demanding days. Even our efforts to pursue righteousness through spiritual disciplines – prayer, evangelism, bible study, fellowship, church attendance – can result in an impressive “showing”, but caution is advised – you may be merely speeding up the film. The only way to become aware of this parallel world is to slow down enough to be able to see it and then respond to it. We need to take the time to become aware of God’s presence and allow him to speak to us in the “spaces”.

Then a great and powerful wind tore the mountains apart and shattered the rocks before the LORD, but the LORD was not in the wind. After the wind there was an earthquake, but the LORD was not in the earthquake. After the earthquake came a fire, but the LORD was not in the fire. And after the fire came a gentle whisper. When Elijah heard it, he pulled his cloak over his face and went out and stood at the mouth of the cave. Then a voice said to him, “What are you doing here, Elijah?” – I Kings 19: 11-13

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Believing is Seeing

“You can’t take it with you” is a common adage that we have heard and used over the years, and everyone understands its meaning. Nothing material can squeeze through the portal of eternity. What is not pointed out is that there is something of infinite value that you can take with you – your relationship with the God of the universe. But that relationship must be nurtured and tended and honored in this life in order for it to grow and become the greatest treasure of all. If you had the choice of taking nothing with you or taking something of unequaled value, which would you choose? Seems like a no brainer. However, many people continue to think of life as a gamble – you don’t really know what the outcome is, you can’t be sure of your final destiny, so why not enjoy this world as much as possible, in case eternity (or the lack of one) turns out to be a big disappointment. At least I haven’t wasted my time here on earath!

Why do we minimize the reality or importance of those elements in the universe which we cannot see, touch, feel or taste? We don’t deny the existence and power of the wind, ocean currents, gravity, black holes, heat, etc. Ever been in a life threatening situation and afterward sensed that some presence was protecting you from harm? What about rounding a corner in the Rocky Mountains only to see a breath taking view of a valley exquisitely framed by snow-capped mountains? Awe and wonder wash over you. What if the most powerful, the most significant, the most important forces in the universe are those that are invisible? How would you live your life differently?

“…don’t focus on, don’t become obsessed with, don’t give all your time and energy to what perishes, even if you need it for this present life.,, The Bread from Heaven, the Living Water, the divine words that will not pass away, and our relationship with God—which is the only thing we will take with us when we die—must be where our most focused and sustained attention abide, the goal of our best efforts.” – Abbot Joseph

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“Living is what we do with God’s time, what we do with God’s world.” – Rabbi Abraham Heschel.

We think of time as “ours” to do with what we want. Books are written on how to more efficiently use your time, how to make more time, and how to redeem the time. All these are based on the assumption that time is ours to use and change. We are deceived. Creation is the Lord’s and, likewise, so is the time given to us. If time were ours, then we would be in control of when it begins and ends. The Almighty One is the only One who knows these things. So, as I begin a new day today, You have reminded me that I must look to You to know how to spend your time. Think of an ambassador in a foreign country. His native country sets aside a segment of time (months, years) for the ambassador to accomplish the tasks given him. The ambassador is not free to do whatever he wants. Likewise, the time I am given each day is not mine to claim; I must look to the “Time Giver” for instructions and guidance. Does this sound like slavery? We are slaves, but our service to our Master will bring tremendous joy and freedom. Just one of many paradoxes in the Christian life!

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