I was watching August Rush tonight and was deeply moved by the wonder of innocence. It was not the innocence of never sinning but the innocence of believing the truth. I wept as I thought of my own efforts to make my sons strong by teaching them the lie that pain is natural. Somehow during my life I gave up on hoping that happiness is my natural state. And I have worked to kill that innocence in my own sons. God forgive me and overcome the lies.
We are fed lies throughout our lives. These lies lead us to settle for mediocrity instead of the godish existence that we were designed to experience. I want to consider some of these.
We are told that this is all there is. The idea of heaven is an escape from reality. It is a convenient delusion that makes the pain of our existence bearable. We hear people talk about recently deceased people by saying, "They are better off...” even when these people were truly mean and nasty in their lives. Honest people begin to wonder if all this talk about it being better later is just a smokescreen to hide the pain.
The truth is that there is more than we see. Reality includes things that we simply cannot experience with our five senses. Every child knows it. He expects a Santa Claus, Easter Bunny and a loving God. The failure of the first two brings doubt as to the third. But God is real. Look at the stars, consider a blade of grass, a butterfly and your ability to consider them and then try to doubt. Romans says that God has written in our hearts, the child says, "Well duh!"
The alternate lie occurs shortly after a person believes. When we return to childlike faith in the existence of a loving God we are told that is all that matters. The body is just a prison for the soul. We must endure our sentence on Earth and wait for the day when we will be released to our 'spiritual' existence.
And yet when I look into my wife's eyes and see her loving smile at me I know better. When I hold my child in my arms and feel them release themselves completely to my protection, I know that moment is important. When I listen to a woman explain how she was raped by her step-father every day for eight years, and yet she wants to be a good mother to her daughters, I am convinced that the actions we take in this life matter intensely. Life is now not just later.
Every child knows it. They do not dream of survival but of thriving, succeeding and changing this world. Why would a child ever endure 12 years of school if the future here had no value?
Life is wonderful. It really fills me with wonder. We can see green. We can smell cookies baking; hear music and the waves rolling onto the beach. We can touch skin; that warm soft smooth wonder that covers every one of us. We can think, imagine and dream. We can create wonderful things for our pleasure and use. We have friends and family who show us that we are important. We can love so deeply that we would die to bring good to our loved one's life. In this we can feel as God feels. And that matters.
We have heard that we are small, insignificant and even evil creatures who are repulsive to a transcendent God. When we say the wrong thing as children our parents yell at us. "What is wrong with you?, they ask when we act out in public. We are not sure what the answer is but eventually we assume there must be something wrong with us or why would we make people mad.
We go to church and sing, "Would He devote that sacred head for such a worm as I." and "that saved a wretch like me." The Church buildings are designed to make me feel small. When we do something very well and feel a sense of pride at our accomplishment, well meaning people tell us to be humble and say, "It wasn't me."
A child is born at ease with the world revolving around him. He expects to be cared for. It is right to the new-born that others should meet his needs without question or thanks. As she grows the child thinks that looking at her twirl will give other people joy. She expects others to delight in her because she knows that she is a wonder to behold. And she is right.
I read in the Bible that every human being is the image of God. God says that He loves men and is not ashamed to call them his brethren or children. He takes joy in us. He bragged about Moses' humility and Job's integrity. He was proud of Abraham's faith, David's heart and Daniel's purity. I think that He may be right. There is no question that we sin in heinous ways but that is not the whole story of who we are.
I really love me. I look in the mirror and see a man that I can trust. He will look out for my well being. He is kind and gentle, sometimes impatient but that isn't his heart. He really loves people and wants them to know Jesus. I see people around me who can calculate pi, create from nothing a useful tool, solve an enormous problem or explain to me ideas about God that fill my heart with joy.
No man can take my choice to live and my choice to love life. I can choose, regardless of the punishment, to enjoy this magnificent life that God has given me. Therefore I will not be afraid. If God is for me, who can be against me?
I think that I am tired of these lies. I am not going to believe them anymore. I am going to tell everyone I meet the truth. I hope that some will believe it.
- Vince Wood
- I have been a PCA pastor since 1993, having been a pastor in Arizona, Florida, Wyoming, Pennsylvania, and as the Team Leader for MTW’s work in Scotland. I am currently the Senior Pastor of Providence Presbyterian Church in York, PA. As a pastor, my desire is to help everyone I meet live out Psalm 73:25, “Whom have I in Heaven but You, and besides You I desire nothing on earth.” I love my Wife Robin, my two sons, Patrick and Michael and my daughters in law, Britney and Emma.
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