Two lessons to learn

Stephen Darbishire 1940 - British Interiors and Landscape painter - Tutt'Art@ (18)

There are but two lessons
for the Christian to learn:
the one is to enjoy
God in everything;
the other is to enjoy
everything in God.

–Charles Simeon
(1759–1836)

Artwork: Stephen Darbishire

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Gifts from God

b90d9ba1a77ae29c06ff29319f31edd7Only those
who give thanks
are able to rejoice,
for only they
are conscious
that life, freedom
and well-being
are not rights
but gifts.

–Roger Scruton

 

 

Artwork: Lynne Henderson

Captivated by wonder

One of the most attractive things about G. K. Chesterton was the unending sense of surprised delight he had for all creation, the world and everything in it. He found newspaper ink to be as wonderful as beach glass, which—it went without saying—was as marvelous to him as any good cigar.

He was as awe-struck and grateful
for the world as a teenager in love,
and he wondered about the unconditional
gift of days that God had given him.

He asked with astonishment, “Why am I allowed two?”—a great question in an age where we expect unending, medically-engineered days.

Chesterton was joyful, because he was grateful; he was grateful because even within his busy life, he was allowed the leisure of silence, with which gift, he was able to wonder. And, as St. Gregory of Nyssa is credited with saying, “only wonder leads to knowing.”

If we cannot wonder, how can we presume to know the Timeless and Eternal God?

–Elizabeth Scalia

Made for enjoyment

I sometimes think that God will ask us,
‘That wonderful world of mine,
why didn’t you enjoy it more?”

–Ronald Blythe

Living with gratitude

When everything we receive from him is received and prized as fruit and pledge of his covenant love, then his bounties (generous gifts), instead of being set up as rivals and idols to draw our heart from him, awaken us to fresh exercises of gratitude and furnish us with fresh motives of cheerful obedience every hour.

–John Newton (1725-1807)

Becoming more “ordinary”

The churches I attended had stressed the dangers of pleasure so loudly that I missed any positive message. Guided by [Gilbert] Chesterton, I came to see sex, money, power, and sensory pleasures as God’s good gifts. Every Sunday I can turn on the radio or television and hear preachers decry the drugs, sexual looseness, greed, and crime that are “running rampant” in the streets of America.

Rather than merely wag our fingers at such obvious abuses of God’s good gifts, perhaps we should demonstrate to the world where good gifts actually come from, and why they are good.

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.

Of course, in a world estranged from God, even good things must be handled with care, like explosives. We have lost the untainted innocence of Eden, and every good harbors risk as well, holding within it the potential for abuse. Eating becomes gluttony, love becomes lust, and along the way we lose sight of the One who gave us pleasure. The ancients turned good things into idols; we moderns call them addictions. In either case, what ceases to be a servant becomes a tyrant…

“I am ordinary in the correct sense of the term,” says Chesterton, “which means the acceptance of an order; a Creator and the Creation, the common sense of gratitude for Creation, life and love as gift permanently good, marriage and chivalry as laws rightly controlling them . . .” Under his influence I too realized the need to become more “ordinary.”

I had conceived of faith as tight-lipped,
grim exercise of spiritual discipline,
a blending of asceticism and rationalism
in which joy leaked away.

Chesterton restored to me a thirst for the exuberance that flows from a link to the God who dreamed up all the things that give me pleasure.

–Philip Yancey

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