Someone upset me today immensely. I went for a walk to calm down, to think, to escape my frustration. Walking back in the dark, with the rain falling softly on my hair and a wild wind shaking up the leaves above me, I realised that this is what I had been craving for so long; time alone with my Creator, with the One who has the power to shake the world. As I looked up at those beautifully formed delicate leaves, drops splashing down on me, I could see His beauty in the trees, and His whisper rose and fell in each gust of wind. And it struck me that perhaps I take such delight in the fierce wildness of British weather because when I am alone, surrounded only by nature, it is not just air that engulfs me, but wind and the rustling of the leaves that indicate other existences, silent existences that do not gossip or torment, but are touched by the same power that created me. For if that wind has a song and a story, then I can hear God speaking to me, telling me that I am not alone, that He created everything.
And then my gaze drifted to the cloudy skies above, and although it was dark, I was able to capture a glimpse of the immensity of His greatness, and the insignificance of my own being. And yet, it still hurts, tiny things that have accumulated and have gathered dust, choking away the joy of my existence. I was reminded of 2 Corinthians 5:6-7 as I walked in darkness, trying to suppress the feeling that I always seem to miss out. “Therefore we are always confident and know that as long as we are at home in the body we are away from the Lord. We live by faith, not by sight.” Perhaps this lonely feeling that grips my heart tightly with cold fingers is because we are away from the Lord. “Be self-controlled and alert. Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour. Resist him, standing firm in the faith, because you know that your brothers throughout the world are undergoing the same kind of sufferings.” (1 Peter 5:8-9).
Standing beneath that cloudy sky that opened up to the awesomeness of God, I understood with my heart that it is all about Him, not us. I understood the delight that such an understanding brings. Because if He created the wind and the leaves, for which I took no effort in enjoying, how much greater and more pleasant is the source of these wonders!? It’s hard to hold on to that revelation; I could feel it slip away as I took each new step. When we are concentrating on the horizontal, it’s hard to keep our eyes above us. It seems that like everything in God’s world, there is a fine balance that we cannot keep as human beings. I can imagine that we look like a hoard of clumsy elephants from above, as we try to dance the walk like ballerinas. And when we come crashing down, surely the observer is humoured and hurt all at the same time. Elephants were not made to create pretty movements. They were made to walk long distances, in caring community. Gentle and mighty, they fulfill exactly what God made them to be.
It’s time to be realistic. What were we created for? “For we are God’s workmanship, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.” (Ephesians 2:10). “Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good.” (Romans 12:21). “Every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of the heavenly lights, who does not change like shifting shadows” (James 1:17). “Set your minds on things above, not on earthly things.” (Colossians 3:2).
- How can we set our minds on things above, which are unseen?
- How can we live as a part of a caring community and concentrate fully on God at the same time?
- How do we find the right balance between giving and receiving?
These are questions I think are very important to answer, because they determine how we live our lives as Christians, and surely that determines whether we are giving our burdens to God or relying on our own strength to deal with issues.
As I write this, I recognise that I am again going in circles, asking the same questions with different words. But I am not entirely lost. Through the cloudy sky I saw God’s greatness because I knew that beyond those clouds, there are a million tiny stars that He created, each one of them perfect and beautiful, each one but a tiny tiny part of the vast universe in which we live. I have received this wonderful gift called faith – and it fits in perfectly within the bigger picture which shows pain and fear and brokenness, but from the darkness, there is a golden light that gradually gets brighter and stronger, as the picture gets more beautiful, because such a light cannot keep to itself. And right at the top of the picture are a million tiny stars, with that same brilliant light that was once just a spark.
It’s just a spark, but if we let it and nurture it and desire it, it will grow into something much bigger and brighter and more beautiful than we could ever imagine. What a wonderful gift this faith is!