Saturday, December 30, 2006

time marches on

It has been a week or two since I last sat down to write here. Many little busy things have happened in those two weeks that make them seem longer than a corresponding two weeks extracted from some other portion of the year. I have always thought the two weeks around Christmas to be the most exciting of the year. But they are almost over and the new year is fast approaching.

While pondering Janus' old face and seeing therein all the events and changes it has seen, I often wonder what his new face will view. I know last year I had no inkling of many of the changes that this year brought and can only wait until the time comes to see what this next year will bring. This time gives us an interesting vantage point from which to look upon these matters. Most of the time we get so caught up in the usual round of little distractions and duties that we miss the larger picture but here there is a marker set and each year can be set against the next (or last) in comparison.

Sometimes it can be disconcerting to our human pride to contemplate the way that events are out of our hands but we have the ultimate assurance that the hands that do hold all events are not only the most qualified and just but also compassionate. We know that He is working all things out for His glory and for the good of those who love Him. So whatever changes come into our lives - however unexpected, unlooked for or even unwelcome - we can rest in this hope and joy in the way that His hand is evident in all things.

Thursday, December 14, 2006

The Great Life

I underlined almost every line in today's entry in My Utmost for His Highest (perhaps defeating the purpose of underlining in so doing). I take that as a good indication that I have found material to post, so here it is (for the most part):

Whenever a thing becomes difficult in personal experience, we are in danger of blaming God, but it is we who are in the wrong, not God; there is some perversity somewhere that we will not let go. Immediatly we do, everything becomes clear as daylight. As long as we try to serve two ends, ourselves and God, there is perplexity. The attitude must be one of complete reliance on God...difficulty comes in when we want to usurp the authority of the Holy Spirit for our own ends.

Whenever you obey God, His seal is always that of unfathomable peace, which is not natural, but the peace of Jesus...

My questions come whenever I cease to obey. When I have obeyed God, the problems never come between me and God, they come as probes to keep the mind going on with amazement at the revelation of God. Any problem that comes between God and myself springs out of disobedience; any problem, and there are many, that is along side me while I obey God, increases my ecstatic delight, because I know that my Father knows, and I am going to watch and see how He unravels this thing

Monday, December 11, 2006

The Natural

Another quote from Oswald Chambers (from December 9th of My Utmost for His Highest):
The natural life is not sinful...It is not a question of giving up sin, but of giving up my right to myself, my natural independence and self-assertiveness, and this is where the battle has to be fought. It is the things that are right and noble and good from the natural standpoint that keep us back from God's best. To discern that natural virtues antagonize surrender to God, is to bring our soul into the centre of its greatest battle. Very few of us debate with the sordid and evil and wrong, but we do debate with the good...If we do not resolutely sacrifice the natural, the supernatural can never become natural in us.

Thursday, December 07, 2006


Before the snow reached my garden...

Lavender's blue, dilly dilly,
Lavender's green
When you are King, dilly dilly,
I shall be Queen

Who told you so, dilly dilly,
Who told you so?
'Twas my own heart, dilly dilly,
That told me so...

Wednesday, December 06, 2006

Part the second: Friendship

Just under a month ago, I set myself up for defeat by starting a series of long posts on the several chapters in C.S. Lewis' book The Four Loves. However, I am continuing it here and, since I never set myself a time limit, may eventually get all four gleaned of my favourite quotes.

In the chapter on Friendship, C.S. Lewis raises some interesting points. At times I cannot relate to every situation he mentions since it is from the male perspective but most of it is fairly universal truths.

On the topic of whether friendship should be classified as a love at all he notes that "To the Ancients, Friendship seemed the happiest and most fully human of all loves." But in comparison the modern world ignores it. He attributes this to several sources. First he says that "...few value it because few experience it." because it is the least natural of the loves; it is highly possible to go through life without a true taste of it. He says that it is this very "non-natural" quality to it that the Ancients valued (they distrusted the nature of man) and which our age trivialises. He claims that the age of Romanticism and its exaltation of Sentiment is still felt in our world. Within this great tide of emotion Friendship appears colourless.

He also has some good comments in rebuttal of the homosexual theory. It is unfortunate that in our society such an argument is neccessary but he deals with it well. He talks of the subtle ways such accusations worm their way in:
To say that every Friendship is consciously and explicity homosexual would be too obviously false; [they posit]...the less palpable charge that it is really--unconsciously, cryptically...--homosexual. And this, though it cannot be proved, can never of course be refuted. The fact that no positive evidence of homosexuality can be discovered in the behaviour of two friends... [means nothing]: "That", the say gravely, "is just what we should expect." The absence of smoke proves that the fire is very carefully hidden. Yes--if it exists at all. But we must first prove its existence. Otherwise we are arguing like a man who should say "If there were an invisible cat in that chair, the chair would look empty; but the chair does look empty; therefore there is an invisible cat in it."

A belief in invisible cats cannot perhaps be logically disproved, but it tells us a good deal about those who hold it. Those who cannot concieve Friendship as a substantive love but only as a disguise or elabouration of Eros betray the fact that they have never had a Friend.
On a broad historical view it is, of course, not the demonstrative gestures of Friendship among our ancestors but the absence of such gestures in our own society that calls for some explanation. We, not they are out of step.
He makes a distinction between companionship and friendship and says that the first is the springboard to the second and stresses the need for a common object:
The very condition of having Friends is that we should want something else besides Friends. Where the truthful answer to the question Do you see the same truth? would be "I see nothing and I don't care about the truth; I only want a Friend", no Friendship can arise...There would be nothing for the Friendship to be about; and a Friendship must be about something, even if it were only an enthusiasm for dominoes or white mice. Those who have nothing can share nothing; those who are going nowhere can have no fellow travellers.
He then talks of how friendship "is both a possible benefactor and a possible danger to the community." How they are the start of many movements: "The little knots of Friends who turn their backs on the 'World' are those who really transform it." He speaks of what it can mean to society:
Every real Friendship is a sort of secession, even a rebellion... Men who have real Friends are less easy to manage... harder for good Authorities to correct or for bad Authorities to corrupt. Hence if our masters...ever succeed in producing a world where all are Companions and none are Friends, they will have removed certain dangers, and will also have taken from us what is almost our strongest safeguard against complete servitude.
[Friendship] makes good men better and bad men worse.
He talks of some of the bad results in the situation of a debate where he came up against blind resistance to relation on a personal level:
...Behind this, almost certainly, there lies a circle of the Titanic sort--self-dubbed Knights Templar perpetually in arms to defend a critical Baphomet. We--who are they to them--do not exist as persons at all. We are spcimens of various Age Groups, Types, Climates of opinion, or Interests, to be exterminated... They are not, in the ordinary human sense, meeting us at all; they are merely doing a job of work--spraying (I have heard one use the image) insecticide.
Another, perhaps less violent yet still negative, result of the exclusiveness of friendship is the idea of "corporate superiority" which we witness when
...people talk very intimatly and esoterically in order to be overheard. Everyone who is not in the circle must be shown that he is not in it. Indeed the Friendship may be "about" almost nothing except the fact that it excludes.
On a happier, more general note of friendship he says
The mark of perfect Friendship is not that help will be given when the pinch comes (of course it will) but that, having been given, it makes no difference at all.
People who bore one another should meet seldom; people who interest one another, often.
He ends with the truth that, whatever we may think, we do not really choose our friends any more than we do our family:
...we think we have chosen our peers. In reality, a few years' difference in the dates of our births, a few more miles between certain houses, the choice of one University instead of another, posting to different regiments, the accident of a topic being raised or not raised at first meeting--any of the chances might have kept up apart. But, for a Christian, there are, strictly speaking, no chances. A secret Master of the Ceremonies has been at work. Christ who said to the disciples "Ye have not chosen me, but I have chosen you," can truly say to every group of Christian friends "You have not chose one another but I have chosen you for one another." The Friendship is not a reward for our discrimination and good taste in finding one another out. It is the instrument by which God reveals to each the beauties of all the others... They are, like all beauties, derived from Him, and then, in a good Friendship, increased by Him through the Friendship itself... At this feast it is He who has spread the board and it is He who has chosen the guests. It is He we may dare to hope, who sometimes does, and always should, preside.

Tuesday, December 05, 2006

"He that searcheth the hearts..."

I don't usually post much about myself but today I was so encouraged by this that I thought I should share and perhaps it will in turn encourage others in their walks.

Several weeks ago, in an effort to discipline myself in prayer, I wrote down a list of things that I was struggling with and areas I could see needed improvement in a little notebook with other prayer requests. I used the list a few times in my prayer time and dutifully said each item in turn but I quickly fell into the bog of habit and rote. I began saying them to get through the list so I could get on with 'my' day. But at the same time I was frustrated that I couldn't seem to put my heart into my prayers.

Not long after that, I went through a situation that drove me to the Lord and forced my heart into my prayers. I found fresh joy in communing with my Saviour and my list (being merely an aid to prayer and no longer neccessary) was forgotten.

This morning I once again picked up the notebook and decided to go through the list after I had finished the rest of my prayer (which consisted mostly of thankfulness for what He has been working in my life). When my eyes fell on the list I realized that every single item on it has been or is being answered by the Lord! During the times when I was merely reciting the list and during the times I had forgotten about it completely, He was faithfully working in my heart and life to answer it!

I know that even with these areas improving so encouragingly in my life at this time I have a long way to go and fresh lists of things for which to ask God's grace. Life is a process of growing and maturing (hopefully!) but I know that He is our Gardener and He is faithfully growing us even when we may slumber and sleep.
Likewise the Spirit also helpeth our infirmities: for we know not what we should pray for as we ought: but the Spirit itself maketh intercession for us with groanings which cannot be uttered. And he that searcheth the hearts knoweth what is the mind of the Spirit, because he maketh intercession for the saints according to the will of God. And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose.
Romans 8:26-28