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“And God said, ‘Let There be Light.’”

“Where are we? From where have we come? Is there purpose in all that we see?” asks the wondering heart.

If you will, join me in contemplation. I will attempt to give satisfactory answers to these questions. You are free to disagree. You are free to criticize. And Christ has set you free to believe.

As I am sure you are already quite aware and sure of, we are all (except the NASA monkeys) on a swirling mass called earth. This earth was created by God, who made us, shaped us, and called us his sons and daughters.

“The Lord has made everything for its purpose, even the wicked for the day of trouble.” (Proverbs 16:4)

This purpose is only made clear through Christ Jesus’ Spirit in our lives, and though our sin blinds us from full visibility, God is sanctifying his people to be perfect like himself.

If a man does not accept the truths mentioned above, then where does his hope lie? Does he have an eternal, never-fading hope? If he rejects God and blasphemes the Holy Spirit, it would be better for him if he had never been born, for God’s judgement is severe. Yet God is merciful, gracious, and patient. He gave us now so that we might turn from our sin, and our sin, no matter how great, is not too big for God.

If we are to begin to at least faintly understand our purpose here and the purpose God had for creating us and the grand universe in which we exist, then we need to accept the absolute that God is I AM, and that His Word is truth. We must know and believe that God sent his one and only son to die for us and reverse the curse of sin. Through his death and resurrection we are justified.

Surely, you may reason, that purpose can be found elsewhere – away from all of this religion. Yes, you are correct. For even the greatest tyrants have their purposes. Yet this begs the question, what purpose are we talking about here? We are talking about God’s purpose for us and this universe. Many have trouble getting past the fundamental truth of “an all good God who allows bad things,” and so refute Christianity as a religion for hypocrites. Yet at the same time they approach the “problem of evil” without a sure knowledge of what is good and what is evil. For those of you who enjoy math this is like trying to do Calculus without having learned Algebra – without ever having learned that 1+1 = 2. It’s like driving a car with no gas or oil. It’s like eating food with no mouth.

The LORD is a God of love, mercy, grace, faithfulness, truth, humility, and all virtue. In Ephesians it says, “But God being rich in mercy, because of his great love for us, even when we were dead in our trespasses, made us alive in Christ.” Who has heard of a man loving his evil neighbor to the point of death? Christ has done this for the whole world, though we despised and hated him fiercely. (Romans 5:6-8)

You might still be thinking, “But how could a good God who is sovereign over all things allow evil in the world?” This is a very reasonable question, and it’s not necessarily even caused by doubt. The answer in some ways is simple, but let me first ask another question. If you wrote a story with good and evil characters, how would you answer the same question one of your characters is asking you?

“Hey, author! Would you answer a question for me?” a hero of your story asks.

“Sure, I’d love to,” you say.

“Why did you have to create all these enemies that burn and pillage our farms? Life would be much better without them. Everlasting peace would be the permanent state of life.”

Do you then say, “Oh no! My character found out that I am really evil because I created barbarians and arsonists in my story!” Or do you tell your character this, “Well, if evil, grief and pain never existed in my story, then there would be no way to understand goodness, joy, and health. But listen, I have very good news for you, your wife, your little ones, and every hero like you. At the end of the story, I will destroy all the bad characters and give everlasting life to every hero. Also, every hero will be made perfect and their death will be the deliverance from this world of transient joy and seemingly never ending woes. I won’t even remember all the bad things you did. This will work very well because you will have experienced evil, and though you will not remember what you have been saved from, that is evil and sin, you will remember what you have been saved to, that is everlasting life. Do you like that? If you do, then keep on being righteous!”

We may not ever know why God didn’t make the night for light and the day for darkness, or why he drew shades of light and dark on the canvas of the world in ways that we cannot comprehend, but we may believe with total assurance that everything has had and will have a purpose, just as death was made to test life and then swallow itself, as it is presently doing. Although it is easy for us to add evil to a “very good” story, it would be impossible for us, in our sinful state to create a perfect story, as God does, using evil as one of the colors. In other words, it is easier for us to paint a big black streak on a white canvas than it is to complete a painting using that black, ugly streak as part of a glorious and beautiful painting. That is because we are sinners, but God, in his mercy, through His Spirit, is sanctifying those who believe in Him. He is helping us to see how he is drawing His story. It is important to realize that this painting is not yet completed. The paint has dried in certain areas, but in many places it is still wet, and we can’t even see how much is still left to be painted. (N.D. Wilson inspired some of these thoughts when he talked about the “wet concrete of time” in his book Death By Living) But we can trust in the LORD, because He is the Triune God who breathed a canvas from nothing, and is using darkness that will eventually be all dried to emphasize the beauty of light, which won’t stop growing brighter.

“In the beginning, God created the heavens and the earth. The earth was without form and void, and darkness was over the face of the deep. And the Spirit of God was hovering over the face of the waters. And God said, “Let there be light,” and there was light. And God saw that the light was good. And God separated the light from the darkness. God called the light Day, and the darkness he called Night. And there was evening and there was morning the first day.” (Genesis 1: 1-5)

“In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was in the beginning with God. All things were made through him, and without him was not any thing that was made. In him was life, and the life was the light of men. The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it.” (John 1: 1-5)

Thus, in the end and even if it doesn’t seem like it, God uses all things for his glory and, as Romans 8:28 declares, works out all things for good to them that love Him and are called according to His purpose. Don’t get me wrong. I am not saying that somehow understanding this makes all of the pain and sorrow go away. By no means! Trials are the fires of our sanctification. They are the embers which burn away our sinful dross. Yet knowing that God is sovereign over all things does make the pain bearable – just as the perishable wreath gives the runner motivation to finish the race. And we will receive a reward in due time. We have and are receiving the imperishable reward of eternal life with Christ. So keep on keeping on. As Josh Groban would say, “Don’t give up. Because you. Are. Loved.”

If you find your purpose in living to gain more money or more things or more happiness or more power, then I warn you that you will never find eternal fulfillment. Lust can never be satisfied, and Sheol will press on you until your soul is devoured. If you have time, think about the end of your actions. What is the end of your life’s grand plans and achievements? When your legs tremble beneath you and you struggle to take your final breaths, what will matter the most to you? If you will, seek and find. Ask and be given. Seek eternal peace. Ask for eternal life. As long as you are here, it’s not too late.

We may wonder why our lives have to be so long. I struggle with this question. How long, LORD? How long do we have to live here? But we should remember that there is purpose in every second that we live under the sun, and that we are truly blessed to be here. There is meaning in every breath. And, just as living was for Paul the Apostle, it should be for us. To live is Christ. To die is gain. God knows how long we must remain, so we must trust him. And remember, life is short. Lay down your life for Christ, because then, and only then, you can pick it up and truly live.

Praise the LORD Almighty, for he is marvelous. All history past, present, and future, including the lives of you and me, whom He made to share with Him in His glory, is His story.

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A Prayer for Remembrance

Dear LORD,

I pray this prayer asking that you would use it to help me to remember life. This day please use and enable me to love those whom you have placed under my care.

By loving to protect. By loving to guide. By loving to remember. By loving to support. By loving to live unto You and die to sin. For to live is Christ and to die is gain.

The worst mistake I’ve ever made is one I least expected. To remember is to give. To forget is to take. I took and you LORD gave. And now your teaching me to do the same.

Yes, though in time of trouble I stumble and fall, Christ Jesus is always there to save.

Until my last breath I’ve taken to finish the life you have given. For my neighbor’s hand to touch thy side, that thou may be glorified. Yes, that thou may be glorified.

LORD Jesus, thank you for eternal life.

In Jesus name, amen.

Sophia Klesis

In the following play a fundamental question is pondered: does God exist? The implications of the answers to this question are of great spiritual significance, and the play seeks to follow the roads and thoughts to which certain of these answers lead.

DRAMATIS PERSONAE

Aletheia: Truth – sister of Plastos

Distazon: Waverer – cousin of Aletheia and Plastos

Plastos: Falsehood – brother of Aletheia

Sophia: Wisdom

ACT I.

SCENE I.  A cabin room with a fireplace in use.  Light Rain outside.

Enter Distazon and sits by the fire.

Distazon. Sinful actions, Aletheia says?! Sinful actions!? – when I have struggled to be good – to do good! Whatever does she mean? All I’ve ever been told is that it’s greener on the other side. But wherever I seem to be she’s always calling me out. I told her I believed her and still she said it wasn’t enough. She raddled on about being able to see fruit or something. Yet if by fruit she is referring to that which is pleasing to taste, I see fruit in many places where she does not.

Sophia. Oh Distazon. Beloved Distazon. Even weeds have flowers and the looks of fruitful beauty. But beware, Distazon! Beware lest the seeds of weeds stretch themselves across your mind and dig their way into your soul. If you could see with eternal eyes Distazon – with eyes that transcend time – then distinguishing one fruit from another would be a light and easy task. Yet your flesh begs you to taste all you see and to love whatever pleases you most. But surely from one tree to another, from all that you have tasted, certain fruits tend to taste better! Distazon, beware! Beware lest your taste become dull – lest your pallet become dark and cold.

Distazon. Oh that I would know for sure the way I am to go! Oh that someone would tell me what to do! Oh that I would become wisdom and yet taste what Plastos tastes! For if I follow Plastos, Aletheia will not cease to bother me, and if I follow Aletheia, I am subject to painful withdrawal and the mocking blows of my beloved Plastos. Oh the fire grows cold and wastes away as does my soul and mind with all this pondering.

Exit Distazon to sleep his worries away.

SCENE II. A broken road. Clouds and sun overhead.

Enter Plastos walking towards the city.

Plastos. There it is! Ah, such a beautiful, fruitful city! – So full of fruits lovely to see, and taste and touch. Fruits that so many never taste and fruits that so many only suck. Oh that my sister and cousin would experience the joys I experience. But never the matter. Let them waste away in their holiness – their fruitless pondering and pleasureless living. Let them judge. Let me taste. Let them die. Let me live. For they know not the folly of their ways. They know not that their supposed righteousness leads not to everlasting joy, but rather to bitterness. They are at war with themselves, Aletheia more than Distazon. Distazon at least has some reason to taste, but Aletheia never wants even a glance, though she acknowledges that part of her supposed sinful self does. She will never see that it is actually sin that profits.

Sophia. Plastos! Plastos! Plastos!

Plastos. Be calm, my mind. Why worry about death and what lies beyond? There is no thought in heaven above or earth beneath. Why worry about that which is not seen? No one watches you, but those you see. Some say life is a gift, but life is not given. Life is had, and that is all. All that we see we attempt to explain, yet none perhaps can fully understand.

Sophia. Plastos! Plastos! Plastos!

Plastos. No, there can be nothing more. There can be nothing outside of what we see. For what then do we search? We search to understand how to further ourselves. We search not to understand ourselves, but to please ourselves. For if what is visible is all that is true, and if what we see is all that is pleasurable, and if meaning is found in all the brings pleasure, then what can we search for but to lengthen our joy and expand our pleasures? Oh that all would see as me! Then fuller pleasure would be had, and there would be no need for fighting.

Sophia. Plastos! Plastos! Plastos! Listen to my voice!

Plastos. I hear voices in the city. They bid me come.

Exit Plastos into the city.

SCENE III. A stream surrounded by trees and green grass. Blue skies and sun overhead.

Enter Aletheia to sit in the grass and rest her feet in the stream.

Aletheia. Behold the works of wisdom! For God in heaven is wise, and all we see He has created. His wisdom is deeper than the ocean, and His love higher than the heavens, but both soft as this stream and yet at times seemingly fiercer than all that we can compare it to. Blessed be your name, O God! May your kingdom here be as it is in heaven above! May all people here praise and serve you as the angels in heaven! Be our God, I pray, and provide for us Your people. Give us opportunity to speak truth to those in our lives and to forgive them as You have forgiven us. LORD forgive us! Protect us from the snares of the devil, and deliver us from sinful ways. For thine is the kingdom, and the power, and the glory forever and ever. Amen.

Sophia. Eat honey, my daughter; “for it is good and the drippings of the honeycomb are sweet to your taste.”[1] Forget not the LORD your God. “In all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make straight your paths.”[2] Pray for your enemies, and hold back those who are stumbling to death. Do not fear to speak the truth, for that is what I have called you to do. And in all that you do I will deliver you.

Alethia. Blessed be the name of the most high God! Praise the LORD all that has life and breath! Amen and Amen.

ACT II.

SCENE I.

House of Aletheia. Aletheia and Distazon are holding serious discussion. A large doomed room with couches in the middle and a kitchen and other rooms surrounding it. Sun outside.

Distazon. You claim to know the truth. But how can you know?! How can you distinguish one truth from another?

Aletheia. It is not my truth, Distazon, but God’s. I do not claim authorship, but only stewardship. Tell me, Distazon, is there anything that explains everything like Christianity? Can you find meaning even in the smallest of details and even understand the purpose of the most beautiful stars? Is there anything so comforting as a God watching your every step to lead you and guide you and pick you up when you stumble? Is there any man in history like Jesus Christ? Tell me that he did not do what we say, and I will find you eye witness accounts in more number than the words of Plato and Aristotle.

Distazon. But cousin how can you be sure? I see that if one believes Christianity the whole world makes sense, but to say that the world cannot be explained in any other way is to become an enemy of so many. Can it not be mere chance? For every creation must there really be a god?

Aletheia. I understand your frustration Distazon, for at one time I knew not the truth. But if life is mere chance, where is purpose? Is it only in transient pleasure? Tell me, Distazon, what other way can you explain life? What other meaning is there to be found for us but that we are children created by a kind, almighty and loving God. Have you not yet tasted and seen that He truly is good?

Distazon. Your soft tongue persuades me Aletheia. Your kindness tugs at rusty doors in my soul. If what you say is true, then I must change. And if I change, I fear for my life. And in that I see only sorrow and pain, for the joy you experience and see I am blind to. Will I see it, too? If I believe with all my heart and confess that Jesus is LORD will I see it, too? – That blessed, eternal, peaceful joy?

Aletheia. The fruits you have tasted are bitter and sour, and I can say no other than a resounding yes. You will taste it. You need first believe and confess with all your heart, mind, soul and body and you will know the peace of God that surpasses all human understanding. Believe, Distazon, and find rest for your soul.

Enter Plastos loudly through a front door.

Plastos. What is this?! Aletheia talking and Distazon in tears?! Listen not nor be convicted by her words Distazon. Aletheia speaks only to hamper your pleasure and weaken your joys. Her words do not bring comfort, but condemnation that only she and those like her truly deserve.

Distazon. I see truth, Plastos. I see truth in her words. And life, too! My heart yearns for what she has, and I have seen where our joys together have led. They have led me only to want more the next time. My longings are temporarily satisfied and eternally expounded. I need peace for my soul, Plastos. Do you not see the truth?

Plastos. Distazon! Don’t you see the fool you are becoming? Peace for your soul? There is no peace for your soul but transient satisfaction. That is why we must work, Distazon. We must work for satisfaction until we save up enough for our whole lives and our children’s lives. That is the struggle of life – to find bodily rest. Aletheia’s philosophies only work against our way of life.

Distazon. Your way of life, Plastos. It is mine no longer.

Plastos. Aletheia! Look what you have done. You are wormwood to this world. You are the hater of good and the lover of falsehood. You say you speak truth, but your truth is lies! You say you seek our eternal good, but what is eternity in a life that doesn’t see it? What about now? What about the present?

Aletheia. Plastos, there is beauty and pleasure now – fruits of all kinds to be tasted, and love of all forms to be made. But can you not see that there is sin that mars our pleasure? – That life is more than pleasure?!

Plastos. (Pulls out a sword and walks towards Aletheia) I have spoken to the authorities. Your life is in my hands. Answer your ultimatum. Revoke your Christian stupor and live as we or die the death of an infidel. Times are changing, and we saints of true pleasure will have no more of your condemnation or judgement. Life is to be lived to the fullest and those that disagree must die. Repent of your sin and I will spare you, Aletheia. Repent and you will live.

Distazon. No, Plastos! She is innocent! There is no blood on her hands! She speaks only what she knows to be truth!

Plastos. Distazon, you know the fruit of her ways. If you seek to save her life you will only lose your own. Your life is in my hands. I have the power to do you good or ill. I have the power to take your life or to keep it. Be silent!

Aletheia. You have not the powers of which you speak. You cannot take life unless it is first given to you by God to take, neither can you keep it unless God grants it to you. I will not revoke what I believe, for all that I believe is true.

Plastos. Very well then (raises sword to thrust it through Aletheia)

Distazon. No, Plastos! Stop! NO! NO! NO! (Plastos strikes the sword through Aletheia’s heart)

Aletheia. Into your hands I commit my spirit. I am yours. Save me. (Falls dead)

Sophia. You are delivered, my daughter. This day you are delivered by your death. Come to me. Come home.

Plastos. (turns to Distazon): What say you!?

Distazon. Deliver me, oh God! I believe the truth! Jesus is LORD! Save me for I am yours! Deliver me!

Plastos. (strikes Distazon)

Distazon. (Falls dead)

Sophia. You are delivered, my son. This day you are delivered by your death. Come to me. Come home.

Plastos. I defy the living God! Come fight me, oh God! If you are real then show yourself to me that I may destroy you!

Sophia. Plastos! Plastos! Plastos! Your blasphemy will not deliver you, and wickedness does not profit long. You will be overthrown in your evildoing, as My Word declares.

Plastos. (Falls down to his knees feeling the sting of death come over him)

Plastos. I kneel out of weakness not because I have seen and believed.

Sophia. Do you now believe only because death knocks at your door?

Plastos. Is my pleasure over so fast? Is my destruction so sudden? What is the pain I must endure? How I have lived so wrong! How I have lived in a moment and shall suffer for eternity! My reward is justice. True justice is my reward.

Plastos. (Falls dead)

Sophia. Plastos, eternal darkness awaits you, and weeping and gnashing of teeth. For I have delivered my righteous ones. And precious is their death in My sight!

Curtains close.

Enter Sophia.

Sophia. ‘“Whoever is simple, let him turn in here!” To him who lacks sense she says, “Come eat of my bread and drink of the wine I have mixed. Leave your simple ways, and live, and walk in the way of insight.”’[3] “Now therefore, O kings, be wise; be warned, O rulers of the earth. Serve the LORD with fear, and rejoice with trembling. Kiss the Son, lest he be angry, and you perish in the way, for his wrath is quickly kindled. Blessed are all who take refuge in him.”[4] Amen and Amen.

[1] Proverbs 24:13

[2] Proverbs 3:6

[3] Proverbs 9:5-6

[4] Psalm 2:10-12

The Graveside Letter

Sometimes, my love, it was in the hardest of times that I loved you most, because I saw the fruit of your love so clearly. Sometimes it seems that in the sting of defeat we can better taste the sweetness of victory, because what seems to us as demise God works for our good. It’s been a wonderful life I’ve lived with you, my love – One about which I have my share of regrets for my failings, but one through which I have grown to love you more than I ever thought possible. As a young man I wondered what the future would hold. Now, as the final chapters of my life draw to a close satisfaction that comes only from Christ overwhelms my soul. You, my love, have already blazed ahead and the joy of thinking about meeting you again brings me to tears. Do you think we’ll remember our wedding day? – Or perhaps even the day we first met?  Do you think we’ll remember those nights by the fire when we stayed up late reading and laughing with each other? – Or the times when we argued about petty things and then realized how selfish we were? Do you think we’ll remember? We’re part of a great, big book, and I wonder how there could ever be time to sit and read it and remember it all, especially since it’s one that doesn’t have an ending, or at least not an ending like the endings we know.

Whatever the days ahead hold, my love, I enter the grave a better man having known you, and I enter it a loved man, too – a loved man not because of my loveliness, but because you saw me as Christ saw me, and were willing to go every step of the way to see me home. Thank you for that. As I breathe my last I shall think of you, and do my best to see our children off to fulfill what they have been called to do – to live their lives in many ways the same as ours, yet all unique in their own ways. I will love you always, my love – always. Until we meet again then, goodbye, my love. Goodbye.

Learning to Walk

The voice of the Holy Spirit cries out; the voice of God calls out for the simple and youths to receive wisdom and instruction.

It seems that the pride of youth is in ignoring the possibility of failure, and by failure I mean not heeding wise counsel. We strive to look independent when we are completely dependent. We cover up failure because failure needs a Savior. We cover up failure with our strength and past victories, only to keep looking as Youth would have us look.

In a letter to me on my thirteenth birthday, my grandfather told me to pray and ask God to help me to never have to live with the regret of making wrong choices. At the time I remember thinking that this advice was strange.

“Regret of making wrong choices? I don’t think I’ll ever do that.”

I still did pray it when I remembered, but I never developed a habit of doing so. As the years have passed, I find myself praying that more often and not finding it strange at all. I realize now that I found his counsel strange because I had no fear of making wrong choices – I had, even while not fully realizing it, assumed I had no need of a savior.

Now, having my own pile of regrets, and by the mercy of God, I see my need for the saving grace of God. Thus, it seems that God matures us by letting us stumble – as a father lets go of his son’s hand as he is learning to walk. The boy’s legs tremble as he stands, and after taking a few steps he stumbles, falls to the ground, and begins to cry, until he realizes his father set him back on his feet again.

My brother-in-law occasionally asks a question of his kids during a dramatic scene that has stuck with me. “Did you hurt your pride?” Isn’t that the reason failure is so painful and devastating? Jesus crushes our pride, and it hurts. Yet our stumbling is His answering of our prayers for humility with a loud resounding “YES!” For the Holy Spirit fills the place of that pride, and God sets us back on our feet having created in us a spirit of repentance – a broken and contrite heart. This is how Paul could see Christ’s strength in the midst of his own weaknesses.

In closing, I exhort you to heed instruction, for that is the way of wisdom and humility. Whether that is the sharpening instruction of a friend, the loving counsel of parents, or pure honey from the Word of God, receive it and obey it with joy, for it is life to your soul and strength to your bones, as the Scriptures declare. And when you fail look to Christ and learn from your failure, instead of covering it up or becoming angry. Jesus Christ died, rose and ascended for you. Receive the gift of His salvation and “keep on keeping on.” One day you will fail no more.

A Word of Encouragement for My Student Friends

The alarm clock sounds at 6:00am and you roll over in bed to turn it off. Instead of turning it off you decide to hit snooze button for another ten minutes of rest. You know the day will be filled with challenges, and that makes it hard to wake up. But you do anyways, and you’re faithful because of it.

It’s 12:00am and you’re still trying to finish a chemistry assignment that’s due the next morning.

“Just a few more years and I’ll be a physical therapist,” you think.

But at the same time you wonder whether or not the title you will achieve is worth the present pain. You imagine that once you’re done you’ll find a good job, make enough money to be happy, pay off your debt and do whatever people have time to do when they’re not in school.

“Life will be better,” you think, and so you keep plowing along.

It’s 1:37pm and you just finished eating some lunch. Your test is at 2:00pm and you feel like you could have or should have studied more, but it’s too late now. The day is far from over. After your test you’re going to go and work wherever you work and then come home exhausted, only to wake up the next morning and do it all again.

“Eleven more weeks until Christmas break,” you think, and it makes you cheer up.

* * * * *

As a college student it seems life consists mainly of this quite stressful, daily routine. If you were wondering, I’m not about to talk about test tips or study tips or getting by on coffee and five hours of sleep tips. Rather, I want to address the futuristic mindset of life getting better and easier than it is now. I have talked about this a little before, but I am coming at it here from a slightly different perspective – the perspective of wealth.

For me the idea of finding a good job that pays well is very motivating, and it is a healthy motivation. The Bible speaks in Psalm 128, that, of “everyone who fears the Lord” it will go well with them and they will be blessed and eat the fruit of their labor. This does not mean that the righteous will never go through hard times or will always be rich in material things. I am not preaching a “prosperity gospel.” But it does point to God’s faithfulness. As the scriptures declare, God will never leave us nor forsake us, rather He will provide for His people. We should desire God’s blessing and seek after it. Thus, in as much as finding a job is God’s blessing and provision for us, we should seek after it.

From another perspective, the idea of acquiring more wealth to trust in is an unhealthy motivation. Solomon declares in Proverbs,

“Do not toil to acquire wealth; be discerning enough to desist. When your eyes light on it, it is gone, for suddenly it sprouts wings, flying like an eagle towards heaven.”

In the Old Testament we read of the Israelites growing wealthy and chubby and forgetting the LORD their God. In Luke we read of the parable of the rich man who had filled his barns with crops and goods and declared to his soul that he was wealthy enough to “relax, eat, drink, and be merry.” Yet God calls this man a fool, telling him that this very night his soul would be required of him. This man was rich to himself yet poor towards God. Thus, my point here is to warn of the danger of this mindset of trusting in riches or living only to acquire more – never being satisfied or content with what you have now.

I write these things because I am convicted by the scriptures. I write these things not to tear you down, but to call you on guard. Solomon warns of this danger in Proverbs 30 when he writes,

“Remove far from me falsehood and lying; give me neither poverty nor riches; feed me with the food that is needful for me, lest I be full and deny you and say, “Who is the Lord?” or lest I be poor and steal and profane the name of my God.”

In closing, I exhort you to live everyday seeking God’s favor. I exhort you to be astounded by the wisdom of God and praise Him for it. Marvel at his creations even as you struggle to understand and learn about them. As Paul told Timothy, be godly and content, for in that there is great gain. And finally, remember that the LORD goes before you, just as he did for the Israelites in the promised land.

“Go. Go away! Read some books!” –Nacho Libre

 

CHAPTER V: Wilderness

(Disclaimer: Due to finally coming up with a solid ending to this book, I needed to make a few revisions to some of the previous chapters in order to provide some clearer direction. So here is the FYI: Chapter 3 is roughly the same but has more stuff added to it. Chapter 4 has the same idea but different setting and less of the dream. Chapter 5 finishes off the dream, but IN a different way than what was previously presented. Also, please feel free to comment about whatever you would like. I am open to suggestions and criticism.)

Samuel watched the plane in the distance as it sped down the runway increasing its speed. He watched as its feet lifted off of the ground and its metal cylinder began to float in the air. Who could have ever imagined what the world would be today in all its machines and gadgets to further man in his subduing, or at times, maybe, which hold him back.

“Now boarding Group 4! Again, since this flight is going to be full, we are checking bags for free if you want to check them know. Regardless, if the overhead space fills up we will have to check all of the remaining bags.”

Samuel stood up from the bench he was sitting on, and walked over to the boarding station to have his pass scanned before walking on the plane. He watched as the man with a cane in front of him had his pass scanned are began to walk through the boarding tunnel. He followed the man with a cane, and could not help but notice the way he dragged his right foot. Such painful, slow movement.

And then it was as if Sam was a ghost already on the plane, hearing the shuffle of this man’s approaching foot. Sam then saw the man and himself as the pair turned the corner and finally stepped onto the plane. This vision then quickly faded and another took its place.

“What is it that makes a nation great? What is it that makes this nation great? Is it the strength of our hands or the wisdom of our lips? Is it the passion of our young men, or the beauty of our women? It is hard to believe that any would dare to say it is not in the glory of these things that our greatness is found, yet surely greatness goes beyond these things. Our true American greatness is our oneness under the headship of our Creator and savior Christ Jesus. It is by His will that America is what it is. It is by His will that America will continue to be what it is. Yet there are those that would disgrace this truth, and by doing so they make of themselves fools. There are those that would sit idle as our soldiers are tortured for the petty gain of world wealth. There are men in our leadership who would eat with our enemies rather than honor our heroes. And with the words that I have left I say that these men redeem their name through right action, and I call for those of you here today to hold them accountable for their actions. Save our heroes! Save our brothers and fathers! Pray for their witness to our enemies, yet may our enemies never be graced by the sense of our weakness, but may they know that we will protect our own, as our own have protected us. Remember Company K! Remember the K!”

Samuel watched himself speaking these words with force and passion atop the podium overlooking a crowd of thousands of people. As he finished his last sentence, the applause of the crowd rang out and in unison a cry began.

“Remember the K! Remember the K! Remember the K!”

Samuel had experienced this dream before, so he knew what was about to happen. He had seen and felt all of this already – the images of dead bodies, smoke, and blood – the feeling of pain and sorrow. He wanted it to stop, but he knew that this future was already written, and he could do nothing about it except accept it. Everything inside of Samuel told him to run, and remembrance of the coming fierce emotions made his body tremble. But he couldn’t run. For the life of him he could not run. His legs were buried thigh high, and his arms were glued to his sides.

“Ah! No!” Samuel screamed, and before he could say anymore, a thunderstorm and pouring rain had begun to block out all other noise. The ground also began to shake vigorously. The trembling of Sam’s legs brought him to his knees. “This is just a dream, Samuel. Calm down. This is just a dream. You’ll wake up in a few minutes.” But Samuel didn’t wake up in a few minutes, and the ground continues to shake as he lay stunned on his knees. A scream pierced the air, and Sam heard it clamor above the clamor of the crowd.

“Run! Run! Run!” It was the sound of a woman’s voice. Oh, such dreadful urgency.

Then the image of the gunshot flashed through his mind, and he could feel the bullet ripping through his own chest and out the other side. And sure enough, Samuel looked down to see a bullet had pierced just below his heart, and blood was pooling steadily around the wound. Samuel watched as the crowd scattered like in all directions like the breaking of a dam wall. Soon after this his mind was driven into the wilderness of his visions, and this bloody scene too faded away, but this time to what Sam remember not – to what, at the break of day faded into eternity without remembrance, as if it never was dreamed of at all.

 

CHAPTER I: New Beginnings

The moon’s silver light shined down upon a quiet neighborhood street, where here and there windows stood glowing with light from within houses. Now and then some of the lights would turn off, and some would turn on. But as the hours rushed along, all the beaming lights faded away, trusting that the moon would continue steadfast, and wage their war against the darkness; yet one light did not fade away, but like a watchman continually scanned everything in its grasp, exposing dust and swallowing darkness.

Thomas closed his eyes. He saw something. It was a world, and he could see a mountain top with clear streams flowing down its sides.  And then he saw a sun and a forest, a luscious meadow, and an ocean longer and wider than the eye could see.  He saw a blue sky and a valley running towards a desert land.

“Perfection!” the place seemed to shout, and Thomas smiled, feeling grass beneath his toes, and smelling the scent of roses and pine and fresh water, and . . . something he didn’t feel he could describe without marring some of its beauty. Wind grazed his face.

Then a strange sensation struck him – a feeling of embarrassment – and the parabola of his smile began to stretch horizontally. He felt completely out of place, as if his presence, though fully desired, was unfit for this world he saw.

Thomas opened his eyes. He was still in his bedroom sitting on his chair next to his dark, wood desk, and his light was still shining. In his hand lay a pencil held over a blank page in a notebook. Thomas sighed. He believed he had so much to say, yet he suffered speechlessness. How could he tell someone else the wonder and amazement he felt when he ventured into the world of imagination? He’d expected it to be hard, but not impossible, like it felt at the moment.

Some words came to him, and he quickly wrote them down, but then crossed them out soon after. They didn’t do justice to what he imagined. This process repeated several times before he lost motivation and set his pencil down.

“Has all already been said?” He considered. “God already spoke the world into being and is speaking even now! C.S. Lewis already created Narnia, and Tolkien Middle Earth. Is there beauty yet to be revealed? Is there a glory that has yet to be spoken and discovered? I’m thinking about this too hard . . . .” Thomas put his right hand to his chin and gently rubbed his fingers back and forth on it.

“Will these words ever come to fruition? Is the fruition of this time words themselves? It must be more than that. Fruition is a process. Ideas must be conceived and born in the form of words. Then they must live and proclaim the glory their symbols represent,” Thomas folded his hands and rested them on the notebook. He inhaled and exhaled, feeling content.

“Why don’t I just write these thoughts down?” He contemplated and proceeded to do so.

He wrote, “Is a nation born in a single day? No one has heard of such a thing, the Scripture says. Like nations, ideas must be conceived and then born in the form of words. The process of fruition in this case ranges from the imagination to what the reader profits from reading. And in a sense, if the words are words that point to glory and mirror Christ’s Words, then the words do not cease to bear good fruit.”

“Yet sometimes this process does not bear good fruit, either because the ideas were conceived in sin, or because they came to words too early, not having enough time to grow. Sometimes these words die early, and sometimes they can be nurtured and sustained. Editors are like nurses, and newly spoken words are like children. Some words die early, and some old. Still more never die. Words that never die are those that give life. They are living words, like God’s words. They are words of creation, words of love, words that speak glory . . . .”

“Thoughts need to rest and develop before words can do them justice,” A smile of satisfaction formed over Thomas’s face as he was now assured that the time he had spent so far was not a waste. He continued, “Ideas need to grow, and expectations that hold writing to be impossible or easy, and not somewhere in between, will sooner or later face disappointment. For the world fell into sin, making us incapable of speaking glorious words, but God sent His one and only Son, so that he might save us from the horrors of sin and to the glories of His presence. So now we can speak of good things, because we have been saved, but we cannot speak perfectly, because we are being saved.”

“At the moment of conception the Spirit forms a child, and this is miraculous. Time needs to pass for the child to take shape; it will be nine months before the child is fully ready to enter the world outside his mother’s womb. For the process of speaking, the mind is the womb, the imaginations and ideas are the child, and God is Creator of them both.”

Thomas shut his eyes. He saw the world again. It looked like the world he lived in, except that it was perfect, or almost perfect. He realized now that it was his own presence that marred its perfection. The very wandering of his mind to the place brought imperfection. Yet now he was not ashamed.

He knew that even the best of his words couldn’t describe the glory of this place, not only because he was not fluent in the language of glory, but also because he could not see the extent of the glory.

Yet he was not upset, because he saw more now than he saw before. He saw that there was beauty even in the midst of his want of vision and lack of perfection, that his battling against the muting forces of sin and evil was itself glorious; that the full glory of this place, though for a time out of reach and inexpressible, was actually more glorious with his struggle, because the substance of the story all of the sudden welcomed and required God to be in the midst of it.

Thomas opened his eyes and exhaled a deep breath. Contentment and satisfaction embraced his soul like a mother her new born child.

“So speak good things . . . . Speak life and speak glory. All of us were made to do so. So let the deadly silence of our lips kneel before our Father who speaks all things, and shout hosanna in the highest . . . hosanna in the highest . . . hosanna in the highest!”

The grandfather clock struck, and Thomas listened to its voice. It was time to rest. He laid his pencil down and turned off his desk light.

“I will write a story,” he said. “A story of life and death and life. An imitation story of God’s. Because that is a way that I can speak His glory. Because that’s a way His glory can be proclaimed.”

Thomas stood up, and soon lay down to rest, knowing that more could have and should have been accomplished that day, but trusting that even his weaknesses and failures would be mediums of a greater glory. And then Thomas closed his eyes.