December 19, 2008

Matthew 20:34

What a practical gift it is to rediscover your own contingency in God's sprawling cosmos of necessity. What a take-home prize, to stumble again into the penultimate status of your knowing what's really up with reality. Like Atlas before us, we are prone to carry around too large a burden--the shouldered heavy ball of our presumed omniscience. But we don't know all that much, really. And this could be the gift, not the curse.

After all, perceptions come and go with the day's winds, like snow that blankets one hour then melts away the next. Without some hard work on the inside, we inevitably see what we need to see when we need to see it. The life-lenses we presume are large and smudge-free are actually, quite often, rather compact and cloudy--the kind of view of things you got as a kid when you turned your father's binoculars around and looked through the wrong end. Only, if you didn't know you had them wrong-ways to your face, you'd think the world was simply distant and bulging. Normal is only lamron spelled backward.*

Most days we don't know the whole truth of things. Stumbling onto this fact is only a lurching disappointment if in the first place you imagined it was your vocation to run the world. Believing that the "reflection of God's glory" (Hebrews 1:2) can open blind eyes is bound to be the hardest for those who already think they can see. Otherwise, our contingency in the face of God's necessity is a true gift, the ground of our glad assurance. Thank the Lord that the Lord is not depending on little old me for a firm and final rendering of the day's reality. Most days I'm lucky if I get my eyes opened at all. In my blindness, the light tends to bend to fit my brokenness.

So of all the things "being saved" might mean, surely it includes being saved from myself--the tempting tyranny of my own little truths. (God help the sinner who confuses his sure faith with God's inviolable grace.) If I see at all, it is because I have been seen. My assurance of a reality firmer than my own is not finally bound up in my knowing, but in the unforeseeable promise of my being known.

People say they want to see proof of God's existence. I'd rather prefer that God envision proof of my own. At least when the looking moves in that direction, there is a good chance that the data is really real.

With deep gladness we rejoice: It turns out God's vision is much better than our own.

*To turn a phrase from F.B.