Monday, February 25, 2008

Night Flight

We climb through 10,000 feet and we point the Airbus A320 toward Montreal. Below, in the soft darkness of early evening, the lights of Chicago slide by. I take advantage of a quiet moment to enjoy the view from the flight deck. "Hey Dave, look over here," I call my first officer's attention to the view out my window. We're climbing out of the earth's shadow. "Now we can say we've seen the sun rise in the west." He smiles.

Then he draws my attention to the eastern horizon. "Wow," I eloquently state. "That's so awesome." The harvest moon is rising in shimmers of luminescent gold. Overhead the sky fades from crimson and dark blue to black as the brightest stars begin breaking through. "When I consider your heavens, the work of your fingers … " Psalm 8 echoes in my mind. I also recall something a friend once told me: "When we open ourselves to wonder, God can speak."

Soon we are at 37,000 feet and cruising towards the falling night. We move our chairs close to the front windscreen, our noses almost pressed against the glass inside the darkened cockpit — like staring into the world's largest aquarium. We begin to share a mutual sense of awe and amazement at the night sky.

"I think it's a little like that spider on my back porch," I muse. "My attempts to understand the universe are a little like that spider trying to comprehend my house, my yard, the surrounding city. How would he even be able to think of such things — it's beyond his capabilities." I pause to sip on a cup of hot tea. "And how does he perceive me as I loom over him. That must be like me trying to comprehend God."

"I don't know if I believe in God," Dave counters. I'm pleased that he is comfortable enough to express his doubts to me. "If we are God's children then wouldn't He be more obvious to us? Wouldn't He teach us His language for example, to guide us and help us? We do that with our own children."

I take another sip of tea, letting his response sink in. "That's a great question." I turn the thought over in my mind. "Does God have a language?" How would we even recognize it? How can I grasp this? I try to imagine myself as a newborn baby lying in a crib hearing, yet not comprehending, as my parents coo and aah and speak words of love.

The steam rises from my tea and fogs my glasses. Below, the complex web of Toronto's lights turn into softly diffused blurs of yellow and gold. The steam feels good on my face.

Does God have a language? Jesus is called "the Living Word." That must be significant. I know the Bible tells us in ancient days God spoke to us through the prophets, but in these last days by His Son (see Hebrews 1:1). I recall Jesus' new command, "Love one another … " The mist on my glasses slowly clears.

God is Love!

Is it possible that love is the very language of God? That love is not only the message but also the language that conveys the message? Marshall McLuhan once said "the medium is the message." Maybe I'm beginning to understand. Maybe God's love surrounds us as surely as warm blankets enfold the newborn baby. He surrounds us in constant whispers of sunsets, stars and warm tea. I want to reflect more on this, but the lights of Montreal are coming over the horizon and we are about to get busy again.

"Dave, that is one of the most profound things I've heard in a long while. I hope we can continue this another time." Dave nods. "Sure." Maybe he's a little surprised? He calls for the pre-descent checklist and we begin the landing preparations. As we gently glide towards the earth, I marvel as I observe stars setting in the east.

Saturday, February 23, 2008


Don't Let Nobody Drag Your Spirit Down!


I just discovered Eric Bibb - and I love it:

Wednesday, February 20, 2008

Is God an egomaniac?

As you read the Bible, you can't miss the fact that God wants us to worship him. For example, it's the beginning of his contract with ancient Israel: "You shall have no other gods before me." Exodus 20:3

And Jesus obviously considered this a fundamental requirement in his own life: "Jesus said to him, "Away from me, Satan! For it is written: 'Worship the Lord your God, and serve him only.' " Matthew 4:10

So it's clear - Worshiping God and Him Alone is a big deal.

Orion Nebula M42 formed by the explosion of a star at the end of its life (NASA, STSci.)

Has this ever made you wonder if God is an egomaniac? Maybe just a little bit? Aw, come on - you can admit it. You won't be struck by lightning! Has it never made you wonder why he's so stuck on himself? After all, if anyone else went on like this, you'd probably want to distance yourself from them - not worship them.

Someone once told me that they had "no use for the unreasonable God of the Old Testament". They went on to tell me that basically they preferred more inclusive ways to worship. Ways that allowed for them to decide who and what to revere.

In short, they thought God was an egomaniac. Or worse.

But is he? Or could it be that He is simply truthful? Think about it.

Ice Melting on Walden Pond, April 2001, "Water indeed Reflects Heaven"(Thoreau).

If I believe in a Creator Being who exists independently beyond time and space - If I believe that this One and Only Creator brings everything else that exists into being - including me. If I believe that this One and Only Creator upholds the vastness of the universe by his very thoughts, and keeps me alive by his love and will, then just what are the consequences of such belief?

Surely the most reasonable reaction on my part is to recognize his worthiness. To place this Creator at the head of everything. Worship simply becomes the most just and sane response.

I'm not writing this in a "holy rolly" tone of voice. I'm not writing with heated tones of religious zeal. I'm simply stating the plain truth. Logic demands that I take these claims by God as simple statements of fact. And conclude that God is the Ultimate Realist. The Teller of Truth.

When he says "Worship Me" he is simply being realistic. He is the One and Only Being to whom worship is the logical reaction.

As simple as that.

Sea Star on Vancouver Island

Monday, February 18, 2008

Search Me O God - YIKES!

As I continue in my church's Read The Bible in 90 Days challenge, I'm now at the Psalms.

In psalm 139, David requests God to plumb the depths of his character to, "... see if there is any offensive way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting." This is a common theme in many of David's psalms. I started wondering how God accomplished this with David - and by extension, with me.

Could it be that David prayed such a prayer just before spying Bathsheba on the neighboring rooftop? Which let to a revelation that King David was an adulterer, a liar, a murderer, a thief, a traitor and many other despicable things. (Isn't it interesting how honest the Bible is about the duplicity and 'human-ness' of it's heroes? No idol-worship or white-washing allowed!)

And so, through this horrible misadventure, David's request is blatantly answered by God as Nathan confronts him. I love the King James version where Nathan pronounces: "Thou art the man!"

God never stopped leading David "in the way everlasting" despite David's failings. We see a different spirit in the King in Psalm 51 - which I always imagine as being written during the time that David was fasting and pleading with God over the consequences of his sin. 2 Sam:12

Don't take my imaginings as 'gospel' - the timing of when these psalms and other accounts were actually written is uncertain. But the concept that God works in our lives in all instances to reveal to us who we truly are is valid. Romans 8:28 says God uses, the good, the bad and the downright ugly, to bring about ultimate good in our lives if we give him permission.

It takes a lot of guts to pray the way David prayed. But we can trust that God has our ultimate good at heart. It will be worth it.