I began to see spiritual truths in the old book where I had not seen them before; finding them not in scriptures scrubbed of all grime and paradox, but in dusty tales of donkeys and dragons. How did I not see them before—these glints of gold in the dirt? It’s terrible enough NOT to see. But one sure way to make it more terrible is to think you can. NOT to find an important thing is awful as well. But, again, the only way never to find it is by thinking you already have. I was a self-deluded arborist stupidly smacking my face on the one tree, it so happens, for which I no longer looked. And it was this about myself—this dilution of myself—and these constant bloody noses: because I believed I possessed truth; because I believed I possessed sight; I was like a man with a fatal illness he did not yet know he had; who somehow, unbeknownst even to himself, wound up at the doctor’s office. My brazen ego alone confident of health, but all else below that proud little scrim, everything deeper within and further without the cosmos was unsure: “Oh, it’s nothing doctor. Just a vagueness here in the pit of my stomach. Just an achiness there in sunsets and starlight.”
Maybe I was sick.
There is a part of blindness that is sheer. A part that is utter. But there is another, sicker part that is volitional: not that can’t look, but won’t. And that kind of blindness is a lie. It is a willful blindness. No sane person would choose to blind themselves. But it is precisely what the rational person chooses all the time. They rationalize. As long as there is a good reason to see, they will see anything. As long as there is a good reason NOT to see, they will see nothing. Like the emperor who refuses to see the empty spinning wheel, because to see AT ALL is to admit he was wrong. This kind of blindness is the first step in drying out a heart of flesh. The pharaonic lie: to look down from tyranny onto the burdened and call it ease. It hardens the heart into a stone that gazes upon freedom and calls it betrayal.
People are always going from A to B.
Always from where they do not want to be to where they want to be. Where someone is right now is always less good than their next choice—by definition. And if, by some miracle, one is actually happy right now, he finds it exceedingly hard to both be happy and know he’s happy. He has the sense his good fortune is only fleeting--always feeling that where he is today is never enough; therefore, tomorrow must have it! That's it! Over there will be enough. Over there will be the golden ring. Over there, the promised land! But obviously he will never get there. Obviously anyone who sees the good life as always over there will never set one foot (not one toe!) in the the promised land. He will forever be one step, one River Jordan, one obstruction, one choice away. It is true what they say for the one who doesn't know how to live today: Tomorrow never comes. In this pitiful way one can spend almost his entire life never in the one place he actually exists—today. He can invest almost all his time—his golden treasure—in the two markets which yield the least returns—yesterday and tomorrow.
"This is the day the Lord has made, rejoice and be glad in it."
Say to every moment as it envelops us: “let there be light.”
And there is light.
Suddenly, a light and a dark side to things. A chiaroscuro to thinking itself transmutes our lived experience as it emerges from the unknown and lands at our feet—a dimensionality not seen before.
To those of us simply flailing around in a gray fog; for so long not really caring that we knocked something over, just angry that it hurt; this is a vision so startling, that we simply can't imagine how it is we have never been able to see it before. Heretofore, hovering before each experience, we couldn't tell a mountain from a mole hill; much less a miracle. We couldn't tell blue sky from earth, plants from animals, sun from moon, friend from foe, Jesus from the devil. Standing at the brink of endless upon endless unknowns; we realize in a flash of bleary-eyed awakening: "My failure to understand what God does as His first act, at the 'Genesis of Moment,' coincides precisely with my failure to understand what I, myself, do not do at the genesis of each moment."
When God speaks, “Let there be light...” it is not so much His words illuminate the void like a radiant spotlight (which His words, indeed, and in part, do); it is more amazingly so just what it says it is—He speaks. It is something like a conscious thought or a humble command put forth to the void; as if God asks or calls upon the void to illuminate itself—and it does! Triggering a divine process as inexorable as the dawn. And then a light comes on somewhere as if somebody flipped a switch. And God's says: “Ahh, now that’s better!”
Speak into the void, mouthpiece of God. Reflect His voice, mirror of God.
In the hush of night; in the wilderness of Zin I ask:
What is life age-to-age? What is life age-during?
Is it knowing what to do? Is it having a valid plan for the future? Is it a clear grasp of good or bad, right or wrong, power, will, choice, transaction, and relationship? Is it understanding the Plan of Redemption? Understanding how to make it through? Understanding change and rigidity? Understanding that life flows just beneath the surface? Is it knowing the map says the promised land is just over there.
It is obedience. Obedience to an infallible guide precisely outside my fallible understanding. It is the simple obedience to speak. To speak life. Is it really that hard to speak with tongues of flame? To yield my will to another’s, to His, is a life-giving force that opens not only the door barring my way; but every door beyond it; in the same moment winning the battle within and creating peace without. To speak from obedience to what my Father says in my heart is far greater than speaking from myself: rashly wielding my shepherd’s staff; my powerful, but limited understanding—my trusty gift from God.
The water flowed in Zin. I was right. But it wasn’t the joyous replenishment I wanted. The spring somehow throbbed bitterly from its crag. My friends, my strangers, and my children drank quietly from their cups. “Your welcome!” shouted I, leaving them to their empty skins and jars.
That night I watched the unnamed waters as I pulled up stakes to leave. The waters ebbed with my contempt as they drained into the desert, carrying with them the promised land.
What is life age-during?
I travelled far that night through Zin. Yet no matter how far, the thinning line of those distant waters shown red in the fire of my God.
“...because I spake not from myself, but the Father who sent me, He did give me a command, what I may say, and what I may speak, and I have known that His command is life age-during; what therefore, I speak, according to the Father hath said to me, so I speak.”
That question disappears into the One.
Or do you want to be right?
"Man...this amazing man...figured out how to go on after suffering."
—from the snarling lips of Satan; from the smiling lips of God.
A man with a great mind who lives by his heart is almost imperceptible to a man with a great mind.
1 Corinthians 14:20
When it comes to evil, be an infant. Paul echoes the second half of Job’s pivotal, two-part, life-changing verse on how to begin standing up under the weight of life: shun evil. Evil is base. Basic. Evil concepts, attitudes, and behaviors are the most readily detectable and therefore avoidable spirits of one’s soul. Like the ground is more familiar than the stars; such is man's lowness more familiar than his heights. And for the man reborn; the Job who lifts his eyes from the ashes into new life; who innocently crawls towards his bipedal humanity: though he may not yet understand all that is good…all that is truth…at least he understands (without being told and from the beginning) what is lie; what is evil.
But beyond evil, when it comes to thinking, be an adult. Paul encourages that when one comes across a challenging and paradoxical concept in one’s life--in one’s theology, in one’s psychology, in one’s religion, in one’s spirit-- and thinks, Man, I don’t like to think about that! I don’t want to go there! : don’t shun it. That is exactly where one must go. Otherwise at the crossroads of indecision, the moment one selects the path he prefers, he rejects all others. And Paul, the once great and mighty hand of judgement for the gods of the well-worn path, reminds us that walking along unwanted paths and in fields that are “not mine” is the one who stumbles upon buried treasure. Again and again, within deeply mined quarries scarred with years of excavation, it is among the rejected where the cornerstone is found. Go there to build temples.