The World and our Fight for Joy

It has only been in the recent years of my life as a Christ follower that I’ve began to better understand that everything in all creation reveals the glory of our Creator.  I realized that I do not have to focus all my energies on setting out for a camping trip to an unknown land or to spend so much to somehow be “in touch” with God.  Instead, it dawned on me that God’s beauty is made manifest even to what seems so ordinary.

Now, hear me out and don’t debate with me yet.  I am not against retreats nor out-of-town trips.  I love to do that, and it can be necessary at times.  But the thing is, we have to gain some insight that God is not limited to jaw-dropping sceneries.

What I’m proposing is that we back off a little, remove the invisible blinders, and acknowledge that we need the work of the Holy Spirit for us to see — that all things (huge or minute… new or commonplace) have the potential to pour forth speech (cf. Psalm 19) about the incomparable glory of the Author of life.

To further drive the point, here’s an excerpt from the book “When I Don’t Desire God” written by John Piper.  One of his college professors, Dr. Clyde Kilby, gave some sort of a prescription on how the world can be leveraged in a manner that deepens our joy in God.

After reading Dr. Kilby’s resolutions, I hope you’d somehow have a heart that is more open.  Accept what’s helpful, and just ignore what you find unnecessary.  Nevertheless, I pray that you’d enjoy the Lord’s presence even more, whatever context or circumstances you may be in.

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At the end of his life my teacher, Clyde Kilby, came to Minneapolis and gave a lecture on how he intended to do just this (using the world in the fight for joy).  It was the last time I heard him, and the message that bequeathed to us who listened was the same legacy he had left to me when I was in his college classes.  He summed up his talk with eleven resolutions.  I commend them to you as one way of overcoming our bent toward blindness for the wonders of the ordinary.

1.  At least once every day I shall look steadily up at the sky and remember that I, a consciousness with a conscience, am on a planet traveling in space with wonderfully mysterious things above me and about me.

2.  Instead of the accustomed idea of a mindless and endless evolutionary change to which we can neither add nor subtract, I shall suppose the universe guided by an Intelligence which, as Aristotle said of Greek drama, requires a beginning, a middle and an end.  I think this will save me from the cynicism expressed by Bertrand Russell before his death, when he said:  “There is darkness without and when I die there will be darkness within.  There is no splendor, no vastness anywhere, only triviality for a moment, and then nothing.”

3.  I shall not fall into the falsehood that this day, or any day, is merely another ambiguous and plodding twenty-four hours, but rather a unique event filled, if I so wish, with worthy potentialities.  I shall not be fool enough to suppose that trouble and pain are wholly evil parentheses in my existence but just as likely ladders to be climbed toward moral and spiritual manhood.

4.  I shall not turn my life into a thin straight line which prefers abstractions to reality.  I shall know what I am doing when I abstract, which of course I shall often have to do.

5.  I shall not demean my own uniqueness by envy of others.  I shall stop boring myself to discover what psychological or social categories I might belong to.  Mostly I shall simply forget about myself and do my work.

6.  I shall open my eyes and ears.  Once everyday I shall simply stare at a tree, a flower, a cloud, or a person.  I shall not then be concerned at all to ask what they are but simply be glad that they are.  I shall joyfully allow them the mystery of what [C. S.] Lewis calls their “divine, magical, terrifying and ecstatic” existence.

7.  I shall sometimes look back at the freshness of vision I had in childhood and try, at least for a little while, to be, in the words of Lewis Carroll, the “child of the pure unclouded brow, and dreaming eyes of wonder.”

8.  I shall follow Darwin’s advice and turn frequently to imaginative things such as a good literature and good music, preferably, as Lewis suggests, an old book and timeless music.

9.  I shall not allow the devilish onrush of this century to usurp all my energies but will instead, as Charles Williams suggested, “fulfill the moment as the moment.”  I shall try to live well just now because the only time that exists is just now.

10.  If for nothing more than the sake of a change of view, I shall assume my ancestry to be from the heavens rather than from the caves.

11.  Even if I turn out to be wrong, I shall bet my life in the assumption that this world is not idiotic, neither run by an absentee landlord, but that today, this very day, some stroke is being added to the cosmic canvas that in due course I shall understand with joy as a stroke made by the architect who calls Himself Alpha and Omega.

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5 thoughts on “The World and our Fight for Joy

  1. 1. At least once every day I shall look steadily up at the sky and remember that I, a consciousness with a conscience, am on a planet traveling in space with wonderfully mysterious things above me and about me.
    —> i find contentment and peace whenever i do that 🙂

    5. I shall not demean my own uniqueness by envy of others. I shall stop boring myself to discover what psychological or social categories I might belong to. Mostly I shall simply forget about myself and do my work.
    –>i like! ^_^ each of us have our own path. No need to compare ourselves with others. We just need to do our best in fulfilling our mission with whatever God has given us.

    11. Even if I turn out to be wrong, I shall bet my life in the assumption that this world is not idiotic, neither run by an absentee landlord, but that today, this very day, some stroke is being added to the cosmic canvas that in due course I shall understand with joy as a stroke made by the architect who calls Himself Alpha and Omega.
    —> true true! trust in God. ^_^

    Thanks Kuya Mike for sharing this!

    1. You’re most welcome, roch! With all the busy-ness in this fast-paced, “everything instant” world, we should all take regular, purposeful pauses to just bask in the Lord’s goodness, glory and grace. 🙂
      By the way, I’m so glad to see you last Sunday! Sayang lang, di tayo nakapag-usap ng matagal talaga. Care for a little chat over coffee or tea next time?

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