Original glory

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Earlier in the Story, back in the beginning of our time on earth, a great glory was bestowed upon us. All of us—men and women—were created in the image of God. Fearfully and wonderfully made, as the saying goes. Living icons of the living God. Those who have ever stood before him fall to their knees without even thinking, as you find yourself breathless before the Grand Canyon, a sunrise, the cliffs by the sea. That glory was shared with us; we were in Chesterton’s phrase, “statues of God walking about in a Garden,” endowed with strength and beauty all our own. All that you ever wished you could be, you were—and more. We were glorious.

When I look at the night sky 
and see the work of your fingers—
the moon and the stars you have set in place—
what are mortals that you should think of us, 
mere humans that you should care for us?
For you have made us only a little lower than God, 
and you crowned us with glory and with honor.
(Psa. 8:3-5 NLT)

I daresay we’ve heard a little about original sin, 
but not nearly enough about original glory, 
which come before sin and is 
much deeper to our nature.

We were crowned with glory and with honor. Why does a woman long to be beautiful? How does a man hope to be found brave? Because we remember, if only faintly, that we were once more than we are now.

–John Eldredege
Epic
(emphasis added)

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Mysterious beauty

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I wondered over again for the hundreth time what could be the principle which, in the wildest, most lawless, fantastically chaotic, apparently capricious work of nature, always kept it beautiful. The beauty of holiness must be at the heart of it somehow, I though. Because our God is so free from stain, so loving, so unselfish, so good, so altogether what He wants us to be, so holy, therefore all His works declare Him in beauty…

His fingers can touch nothing
but to mould it into loveliness;
and even the play of His elements
is in grace and tenderness of form.

–George MacDonald

Myths, legends and the gospel

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On the evening of September 19, 1931, Lewis had a long discussion with one of his closest friends, J. R. R. Tolkien . . .

Lewis said that he could not see what meaning Christ’s life, death and resurrection could possibly have for him living 1900 years after the events. Tolkien replied that the gospel works in the same way that myths work. Lewis had no problem in being moved by myths and legends – they gave him a sense of joy and touched a chord of longing in his heart. But, ‘they are lies breathed through silver’ Lewis replied.

No, said Tolkien, they are not completely lies – rather, myths have elements of the truth within the distortions and unworthy outer husk they often wear.

Myths, said Tolkien, are echoes
or memories of the truth
that God had originally made known
to Adam and Eve, the ancestors
of the whole human race.

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There are in myths, memories of the un-fallen world, memories of paradise when the world was not stained by human rebellion but was characterized only by goodness and joy in all of life; there is a sense of the shame and tragedy of the brokenness of our present life; and there are hints of the promise and hope of redemption, of the setting right of all things. The Gospel is the true myth, the great fairy story.

In the Gospel of Christ
all the elements of truth in the pagan myths
find their fulfillment.

This conversation (it went on till 3:00 am) was a very significant turning point in Lewis’ conversion, for just a few days afterwards Lewis came to faith in Christ.

Jerram Barrs
Echoes of Eden
(emphasis added)

Creation renewed

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Jesus, unlike the founder of any other major faith, holds out hope for ordinary human life. Our future is not an ethereal, impersonal form of consciousness. We will not float through the air, but rather will eat, embrace, sing, laugh, and dance in the kingdom of God, in degrees of power, glory, and joy that we can’t at present imagine.

Jesus will make the world our perfect home again. We will no longer be living ‘east of Eden,’ always wandering and never arriving. We will come, and the father will meet us and embrace us, and we will be brought into the feast.

–Tim Keller
The Prodigal God

Nobody else has news

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Nobody else except [Christians]
has any Gospel; nobody else
has any good news;
for the simple reason that
nobody else has any news.

–G. K. Chesterton
The Everlasting Man

Published in: on 04/24/2013 at 5:40  Leave a Comment  
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Memories of Eden

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For all of us, Eden’s loss hits hard. A snake comes into every garden, interrupting innocence with a divorce, a death, a shaming moment, or a terrible violation. It may have been dramatic or it may have been subtle, but whatever it was, it signaled Eden’s demise, the loss of innocence.

I wonder – if Adam’s sin courses through my veins, perhaps so does his memory of Eden. Could that be what it means to have “eternity written in our hearts?” – that we’ve been there before and its goodness has been imprinted on our souls?

Maybe it’s time that we begin to remember those days – those moments or relationships we experienced when all seemed right with the world.

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What if we looked at those memories
as bread crumbs left behind
by a God who loves us.

Perhaps if we pick them up, we’ll make our way back home, finding there a taste of a future that will be ours.

What do you remember about your Eden?

Spend time with that memory. Write about it. Be thankful for it.

–Al Andrews
(emphasis added)

 

Built in desires

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It is part of our human nature to desire God,
and it is part of God’s nature to desire us.
We can never stop yearning for God
until we are possessed by God
in the fulness of love.

–Julian of Norwich (1342 – c. 1416)
Revelations of Divine Love
Paraphrase by Ralph Milton

The quest for happiness

Amanecer màs alla de las colinas

The Christian doctrine of suffering explains, I believe, a very curious fact about the world we live in.

The settled happiness and security
which we all desire, God withholds from us
by the very nature of the world:
but joy, pleasure, and merriment,
He has scattered broadcast.

We are never safe, but we have plenty of fun, and some ecstasy. It is not hard to see why. The security we crave would teach us to rest our hearts in this world and oppose . . . our return to God: a few moments of happy love, a landscape, a symphony, a merry meeting with our friends, a bathe or a football match, have no such tendency.

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Our Father refreshes us on the journey
with some pleasant inns, but will not
encourage us to mistake them for home.

―C. S. Lewis
The Problem of Pain

Published in: on 04/21/2013 at 5:48  Leave a Comment  
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Dreams of blessedness

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Like Adam, we have all lost Paradise; and yet we carry Paradise around inside of us in the form of a longing for, almost a memory of, a blessedness that is no more, or the dream of a blessedness that may someday be again.

―Frederick Buechner 
The Magnificent Defeat

The deepest thirst

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The soul’s deepest thirst
is for God Himself,
who has made us
so that we can never 
be satisfied without Him.

–F. F. Bruce
(1910 – 1990)

Waiting at the door

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We are orphans at the gate of the orphanage, awaiting our new parents. They aren’t here yet, but we know they are coming. They wrote us a letter. We haven’t seen them yet, but we know what they look like. They sent us a picture. And we’re not acquainted with our new house yet, but we have a hunch about it. It’s grand. They sent a description.

–Max Lucado
When God Whispers Your Name

Published in: on 04/18/2013 at 3:34  Leave a Comment  
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Never meant to satisfy

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Creatures are not born with desires unless satisfaction for those desire exists. A baby feels hunger; well, there is such a thing as food. A duckling wants to swim: well, there is such a thing as water. Men feel sexual desire: well, there is such a thing as sex.

If I find in myself a desire which
no experience in this world can satisfy,
the most probably explanation is that
I was made for another world.

If none of my earthly pleasure satisfy it, that does not mean the universe is a fraud . . . earthly pleasures were never meant to satisfy it, but only to arouse it, to suggest the real thing.

–C. S. Lewis

Photo by Mohd Shamsudin

Paradise restored

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Jesus will make the world
our perfect home again.
We will no longer be living ‘east of Eden,’
always wandering and never arriving.
We will come, and the father will meet us
and embrace us, and we will be 
 brought into the feast.

–Tim Keller
The Prodigal God

The problem of pleasure

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Why is sex fun? Reproduction surely does not require pleasure: some animals simply split in half to reproduce . . . Why is eating enjoyable? Plants and the lower animals manage to obtain their quota of nutrients without the luxury of taste buds. Where are there colors? Some people get along fine without the ability to detect color. Why complicate vision for all the rest of us?

It struck me, after reading my umpteenth book on the problem of pain, that I have never seen a book on “the problem of pleasure.” Nor have I met a philosopher who goes around shaking his or her head in perplexity over the question of why we experience pleasure. Yet it looms as a huge question: the philosophical equivalent, for atheists, to the problem of pain for Christians. On the issue of pleasure, Christians can breathe easier.

A good and loving God would naturally want
his creatures to experience delight,
joy and personal fulfillment.

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Christians start from that assumption and then look for ways to explain the origin of suffering. But should not atheists have an equal obligation to explain the origin of pleasure in a world of randomness and meaninglessness?

. . . Where does pleasure come from? Chesterton settled on Christianity as the only reasonable explanation.

Moments of pleasure are
the remnants washed ashore
from a shipwreck, bits of Paradise
extended through time.

We must hold these relics lightly, and use them with gratitude and restraint, never seizing them as entitlements.

. . . Evil’s greatest triumph may be its success in portraying religion as an enemy of pleasure when, in fact, religion accounts for its source: every good and enjoyable thing is the invention of a Creator who lavished gifts on the world.

–Philip Yancey
Soul Survivor

The fuel of our spirits

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God designed the human machine to run on Himself. He Himself is the fuel our spirits were designed to burn, or the food our spirits were designed to feed on. There is no other. That is why it is just no good asking God to make us happy in our own way without bothering about religion. 

God cannot give us a happiness and peace
apart from Himself, because it is not there.
There is no such thing.

–C. S. Lewis
Mere Christianity

The long terrible story

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Human history
is the long terrible story
of man trying to find something
other than God which
will make him happy.

–C. S. Lewis

Looking for God

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Every man who knocks 
on the door of a brothel 
is looking for God.

–G. K. Chesterton

Image by Vlado R. Vasilev

Published in: on 04/12/2013 at 2:42  Leave a Comment  
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When beauty beckons

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There you are, standing at a window, watching oak leaves flutter down from dark boughs, and without warning your whole body fills with a longing for something you can’t name, something you’ve lost but never had, that you’re nostalgic for yet don’t remember. You sense a joy so huge it breaks you, a sorrow so deep it cleanses.

Or in line at a store one day, you turn and look at a child who doesn’t notice you. The skin on her face curves down flushed and smooth along her cheekbones and creases into delicate folds at her eyes. There is a wild hope in those eyes, and her beauty pierces you in a way you don’t understand.

. . . And you wonder, How can this be?

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This is how: You want to go home. The instinct for heaven is just that: homesickness, ancient as night, urgent as daybreak. All your longings—for the place you grew up, for the taste of raspberry tarts that your mother once pulled hot from the oven, for that bend in the river where your father took fishing as a child, where the water was dark and swirling and the caddis flies hovered in the deep shade—all these longings are a homesickness, a wanting in full what all these things only hint at, only prick you with. These are the things seen that conjure in our emotions the Things Unseen. “He has set eternity in the hearts of men,” the writer of Ecclesiastes said, “yet they cannot fathom what God has done from beginning to end” (3:11).

–Mark Buchanan
Things Unseen

Our lifelong nostalgia

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Our lifelong nostalgia, our longing to be reunited with something in the universe from which we now feel cut off, to be on the inside of some door which we have always seen from the outside, is no mere neurotic fancy, but the truest index of our real situation. And to be at last summoned inside would be both the glory and honor beyond all our merits and also the healing of that old ache.

–C. S. Lewis
The Weight of Glory

Published in: on 04/10/2013 at 4:06  Leave a Comment  
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Echoes of Eden

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The power of “nostalgia” jogs our memories, making us reminiscent of our beginnings, calling us back to the original matrix of creation, the beginning of all things.

This heavenly homesickness
is also another gift from the Creator.

It is like an internal alarm clock, and when it sounds it awakens us and reminds us it is time to arise and return home to Father. The restlessness we sense when we have lost the way is a spiritual mechanism placed inside of us by Father-Creator. It is a human love-call bidding us to come home.

–Don Milam
The Ancient Language of Eden

What we all hunger for

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The Kingdom of God
is what all of us hunger for
above all other things even when
we don’t know its name.

–Frederick Buechner

Infinity inside

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Man’s unhappiness . . . 
comes of his greatness; 
it is because there is 
an Infinite in him, 
which with all his cunning 
he cannot quite bury 
under the Finite.

–Thomas Carlyle
(1795 – 1881)

A sense of exile

Paradise

We all long for Eden
and we are constantly glimpsing it:
our whole nature is still soaked
with the sense of exile.

–J.R.R. Tolkien
(1892 – 1973)

Published in: on 04/05/2013 at 21:08  Leave a Comment  
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A God-shaped void

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What else does this longing and helplessness proclaim, but that there was once in each person a true happiness, of which all that now remains is the empty print and trace? We try to fill this in vain with everything around us, seeking in things that are not there the help we cannot find in those that are there. Yet none can change things, because this infinite abyss can only be filled with something that is infinite and unchanging – in other words, by God himself. God alone is our true good.

–Blaise Pascal
(1623 – 1662)

Impossible to nail down

Nail

We can never nail him down,
not even if the nails we use
are real ones and the thing
we nail him to is a cross.

–Frederick Buechner
The Magnificent Defeat

Published in: on 04/04/2013 at 3:35  Comments (2)  
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The day is coming

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All your life an unattainable ecstasy has hovered just beyond the grasp of your consciousness. The day is coming when you will wake to find, beyond all hope, that you have attained it, or else, that it was within your reach and you have lost it forever.

–C. S. Lewis

Published in: on 04/02/2013 at 21:07  Leave a Comment  
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The way out of the grave

Empty tomb

Christianity has had
a series of revolutions
and in each one of them
Christianity has died.
Christianity has died
many times and risen again;
for it had a God who knew
the way out of the grave.

–G. K. Chesterton
The Everlasting Man

The reversal of sadness

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The resurrection of Christ means
everything sad is going to come untrue
and it will somehow be greater
for having once been broken and lost.

–Tim Keller

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