It began like a dream: I was in a temple, being bathed in the blood and tears of hundreds of souls that spoke to me across the centuries, all clambering to be noticed. They demanded to be heard like spoiled children.
The walls were covered with windows that opened their hearts into mine, and I was blessed and changed all at once and forever. This was a religious experience the likes of which I cannot remember. It was the summation of the epiphanies that had come before. God spoke to me, not only then, but throughout the day, into the night and in the days ahead. He spoke through the lives of the artist who’s voices time couldn’t contain — the perverse and the profound, the tormented and the enlightened.
I felt that God was painting a picture in my mind with their blood. The author of life was writing a book on my heart with the ink of their tears. He was opening my soul like a surgeon, slowly cranking my ribs apart, going deeper. I was being changed again. This was the next step in a seemingly endless succession on the stairway to heaven!
It was like a door had opened and I was able to enter another world, more real than the one I knew. Through it, I glimpsed a larger picture than ever before. Somehow I was able to see how pathological my constant self justification had really been. While I had fancied myself as a good man, when I had the chance to see what was really there, I was appalled.
Self justification may be a survival mechanism for this world, but it was an iron gate, padlocked and barred, preventing my passage to the next.
Sin was real and in it I was constantly deceived. Finally, I was able to see the far reaching implications of even my smallest acts. Like ripples through time, they moved in all directions at once. It made me think of the viral spread of a message, or an idea, across social media. It was like a succession of infinitely wider rows of dominoes, expanding in a chain reaction across never ending horizons. People have no idea how powerful they really are, or the impact they are having on others, constantly. And yet, if this power isn’t subordinated to The One who understands its reach, it is either random or destructive but always lacking its intended potential.
The soul of man was epic, but at the same time like a grain of sand on an endless beach. When we are wrapped in the will of the Creator, who then fills our fragile vessels of clay with His Holy Spirit, things get interesting. God’s unlimited power brings alignment to our lives that are otherwise mostly struggle and rest. But in our struggles we begin to discover truth.
It all finally made sense. Our struggles were the hammer of God, and his brush was the cross that painted us in the transforming blood of Christ! God was the first artist and we were his greatest creation, forged in His image.
Today’s reading: Joshua 24; Acts 4; Jeremiah 13; Matthew 27
We had just been to the Museum of Art in Zurich, the Kunsthaus, and their collection had a such a powerful emotional and spiritual impact on me it was surprising. It actually brought me to tears twice in the middle of the museum. I hesitated to share the experience described above due to its extraordinary nature. Yet, I didn’t think I could keep this one to myself. I had awakened to a flood of tears that night, feeling this incredible sense that I had shared directly in both misery and the rapture from the lives of these amazing artists. I felt the heaviness they felt and it overwhelmed me, and in it all, I believed I had heard the voice of God. Certainly, my lack of sleep and the power of some of the most remarkable impressionist art in the world had blended together somehow with my Bible reading and prayers. This had all come together just in time for this week’s posting at the begining of my Summer’s vacation.
While I was reading today’s Bible passages I thought about the profound proclamation from Joshua:”….But for me and my household, we will serve the Lord.” (Joshua 24:15). It came in the midst of hesitation and resistance from his fellow Israelites, and reminded me of the always present temptation to follow other Gods. This made me think about all the people that don’t even understand that this is a choice or what it means.
In Acts I read about Peter, who spoke to the the rulers, elders and keepers of the law. After healing a man who was lame, he proclaimed: “… It is by the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, whom you crucified but whom God raised from the dead, that this man stands before you healed. Jesus is “’the stone you builders rejected, which has become the cornerstone.’ Salvation is found in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given to mankind by which we must be saved.” (Acts 4:10-12). And this made me realize how difficult it was to see the this powerful truth, how easy it was to be deceived.
Jesus was a real person, but my relationship with Him required faith and hope. My struggles and suffering produced perseverance, character and hope. (Romans 5: 3-5) These were the things that came from the active pursuit of a complete understanding and full allegiance to the most significant figure in human history. Jesus was God in the flesh. He came into the world to save it.
I thank God that he came to save us! Amen.