Monthly Archives: May 2016

Beauty for Ashes

DSCN2359A few weeks ago, I noticed some very tiny flowers in an uncultivated flower bed—weeds, but very pretty. Later in another part of town, I spied a cheerful carpet of mauve flowers on a lawn. Alas, they too were weeds. These tiny flowering weeds got me thinking.

In many ways, the world in which we live is very dark. People are losing hope. An advertisement for a new book professing to solve all human probDSCN2535 (2)lems is a symptom of this malaise. No, it doesn’t ask us to “love God and love our neighbours as ourselves.” Evidently, forgetting the dismal record of the last 200 years, the solution proposed is scientific and biological. Vain hope. But at least its analysis of our condition is relatively accurate. We live in “a world facing complete breakdown from terrorism, refugee crises, corrupted economies, polarized politics, family disintegration, rampant mental illness and ecological devastation.”

DSCN1650No wonder doom and gloom occupy most writers these days. Yes, but what about God? “He makes all things beautiful in his time” (Eccl.3:11). As the One who is altogether lovely, whatever he touches becomes beautiful. David’s longing was “to gaze on the beauty of the Lord…all the days of my life” (Psalm 27:4). The antidote to ugliness and evil, is God.

Have we failed to notice indications of God’s glory scattered prodigiously throughout the earth? What do I mean? I mean those silent witnesses to the beauty of God and His salvation. Every beautiful thing in creation points to its Creator and whispers, hope. As Isaiah prophecies of Jesus; “The Lord has anointed me to preach good news to the poor…to bestow on them a crown of beauty instead of ashes…a garment of praise instead of a spirit of despair…a planting of the Lord for the display of his splendor” (Isaiah 61:1,3).

DSCN2541The beauty of a baby’s smile. The fragrance of lilac. The beauty enshrined in a grain of sand or a snowflake. The rainbow reflected from a drop of dew. The infinite shape of clouds. The loveliness and variety of myriads of flowers. The shape of trees. The magnificence of mountains. The splendour of the sea. The magic of sunrise and twilight. What about butterflies and birds; diamonds and dandelions. Lord, the earth is full of your glory!

Have we failed to notice God’s beautifying touch? The refugees who shout hallelujah after being saved by Jesus Christ. The drug addict in Brooklyn totallyRainbow delivered from addiction. The abuser becoming gentle and loving. What about myriads of men and women from every tribe and nation who have seen their fear and despair replaced by joy and peace and hope?

DSCN2373 (2)Oh, yes, the cataclysm produced by the fall of mankind into sin, produced thorns and thistles, hatred and war; and probably mosquitoes, volcanoes, tornadoes and earthquakes. And yet, God has not left us without witness. If we would but look, we would find glimpses of beauty from the hands of the Creator at every turn. And that beauty bears witness to hope in seemingly hopeless situations; hope through bowing in faith to Jesus Christ, the Lord. Then we will revel in beauty and worship God in the “beauty of holiness”.

(Further articles, books, and stories at: Facebook: Eric E Wright Twitter: @EricEWright1 LinkedIn: Eric Wright )


What is life’s supreme goal? #4

What is the highest goal of mankind? Banishing hunger? Universal peace? Loving our neighbours? These are laudable goals which, however, can never be achieved without first reaching another goal. Philosophers talk about the summum bonum, “the highest good, especially as the ultimate goal according to which values and priorities are established in an ethical system.” Surely, that highest goal of mankind is coming to know him, that is, God, “from him and through him and to him are all things” (Romans 11:36).

But how can we know God; he is infinite, invisible, and incomprehensible? This is only possible if God takes the initiative and reveals himself. Fortunately, he has DSCN1326 (1)done so by revealing his character through comparison with things we see and know. One facet of this self-revelation is his use of members of the human body for purposes of comparison. Theologians call these metaphors, anthropomorphisms.

Ears: Since it is beyond our understanding how God could hear our thoughts even before we think them, (Psalm 139) listen to our prayers, hear our groans and whispered complaints; the Psalmist imagines God having an ear. ”His ears are attentive to their cry…the righteous cry out and the Lord hears them; and DSCN1727 delivers them from all their troubles. The Lord is close to the broken-hearted” (Psalm 34:15-18) “Hear O Lord, my righteous plea; listen to my cry. Give ear to my prayer” (Psalm 17:1).

Arm: “The arm of the Lord is not too short to save….but your iniquities have separated you from your God [consider the spiritual state of our countries] “ (Isaiah 59:1,2). It is our sins, not God’s lack of ability to help us that hinder our national development and our individual salvation and growth in grace.

Hand: Imagine cupping your hand to hold a drink of water. Imagine holding the Great Lakes in the hollow of your hand. But more, imagine holding all the oceans and lakes! God “has measured the waters in the hollow of his haDSCN1641nd, or with the breadth of his hand marked off the heavens” (Isaiah 40:12). Is God big enough to help us with our problems? Yes. “I foresaw the Lord always before me. He is at my right hand that I not be moved” (Ps. 16:8 ) “Some trust in chariots [and tanks and warplanes]…but we trust in the name of the Lord our God…the saving power of his right hand” (Psalm 20:7, 6). “Your right hand will seize your foes” (Psalm 21:8). Fearful? Trust in God’s almighty right hand.

Mouth: “As the rain and the snow come down from heaven…watering the earth and making it bud and flourish…so is my word that goes out from my mouth: it will not return to me empty, but will accomplish what I desire…you will go out with joy and be led forth in peace” (Isaiah 55:10-12). Not silent and indifferent, God is a Spirit who communicates through His revealed Word so that joy and peace may flower in our lives in the same way that snow and rain, water the earth, “making it bud and flourish”.

Eye: Since God’s ability to see everything in one moment throughout the whole universe is beyond our comprehension, the Psalmist makes it personal by imagining God‘s eyes are upon us. “The eyes of the Lord are on the righteous” to see their troubles and deliver them. “A riDSCN1741 (2)ghteous man may have many troubles, but the Lord delivers him from them all” (Psalm 34:15, 19). [Remember, we will have troubles but we must trust God WHEN and HOW to deliver.] We are so precious to God, that David imagines God keeping us “as the apple of your eye,” that is, as close as the eye’s pupil. (Psalm 17:8).

Laughs: “The One enthroned in heaven laughs” (Psalm 2:4). Using human imagery, the Psalmist describes the utter foolishness—bordering on hilarity—of nations and rulers who conspire to destroy faith in “His Anointed One,” Jesus Christ, and the extension of His Kingdom, through their plots and conspiracies. (See Psalm 2:1-6) God has laughed at the conspiracies of Hitler, Stalin, Pol Pot, Mao Tse Tung, and laughs today at ISIS, but with anger. Judgement will come.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAAs we use our mouths to speak and laugh, as we see with our eyes and hear with our ears, as we hold things with our hands let us lift up our praise to our great Triune God. “To the King eternal, immortal, INVISIBLE, the only God, be honor and glory for ever and ever” (1 Tim. 1:17).

(Further articles, books, and stories at: Facebook: Eric E Wright Twitter: @EricEWright1 LinkedIn: Eric Wright )