Thursday, July 22, 2004

The Big and Little Picture
One of the appealing facets of Biblical Christianity is the fact that it deals with life from the perspective of the Big and the Little Picture.  But what else would you expect from a Faith that has a God who is both imminent and transcendant at the same time?  God is over all creation, but yet personally with it at the same time.

  I think this aspect of Big and Little Pictures is expressed in the first question of the Westminster Shorter Catechism:

Q.1  What is man's chief end?

A:  Man's chief end is to glorify God and to enjoy Him forever. 

God's glory is the Big Picture.  Our enjoyment of Him is the Little Picture.   Biblical Christianity encourages one to relate to God on an individual basis, but also encourages us to see ourselves as part of the larger picture of what God is doing in time and eternity.  Both aspects are important to a mature Christian walk.  We cannot neglect the personal aspect of faith in Christ by chasing after intellectually appealing doctrines without causing that personal aspect to wither on the vine from lack of communion with Christ.  We also cannot expect anything but a truncated spiritual growth if all our attention is focused on "what Christ means to ME"  to the neglect of where we operate in the Body.

Sometimes  our attention will be drawn to one aspect more than another.  In recent days I have been focusing my attention more on the individual aspect of faith.  This is finding some of its expression in music; not that which I make myself (alas for piano lessons that were never put to good use), but that which others make.  One of my favorite CD's to listen to recently is one called Thrive, by the Newsboys. 

The other day I posted some lyrics to one of their songs from this album and subsequently deleted the post because it provoked a number of calls and inquiries about my spiritual state.  It goes to show you how different people can interpret different things.  To many who inquired, it was a post written in despair.  But really, it was a post written with a reflection of thanksgiving and hope that is reflected in the chorus.

Old as the hills, new everyday
It's in the bones like it's DNA
First taste is sweet 'til it rots in your mouth
Another old friend who rats you out
All of the time in this life
Can't loose the ties that bind
They shackle our feet, we trip, we fall
We crawl
I was born in the mess of it all
Then You rescued me, rescued meLord,
with a touch of Your hand
Another captive free again
Who else in heaven could do this but You?
You rescued me, rescued meLord,
with a love out of mind
Oh, You know I love it when
Everyday I am rescued again
Over the years your nature's way
Is turning wrongs into roles you play
Caught in a spell that's overcast
You gain perspective, it doesn't last
All of the time in this life
Can't loose the ties that blind you
They're new everyday, old as the fall
The fall
And I was born in the mess of it all
Every day, every way, every
Every cheap imitation
All of my imagination
Even my self-preservation
Is yours in time
Now this song speaks eloquently to me of the Little Picture.  It is a snapshot of what the Westminster Confession of Faith says in Chapter 5 on Providence, which I posted a few days ago.  God sometimes allows us to look deep into the darkness of our hearts and to see the terrible depravity and wickedness that lurks there ready to spring into action, but for His restraining Hand.  Proverbs tells us that a man without self control is like a city without walls;  there is no defense.  And yet how often does God supply the defense for us when we would do otherwise?  Let's face it:  whenever we are defended, it is GOD who does the defending, not our weak, faulty, and puny wills.  So the song above is a song of hope to me.  For every day I am rescued again from myself.

Another song from this CD that really speaks to my soul lately is the title track.

Down here in the valley
Every shadow You see
Has its own story
Down here in the valley
Every puddle of mud
Comes from tears and blood
And it's so hard just to get warm
That the chill turns into despair
Will You lift me up with tender care?
Will You wash me clean in the palm of Your hand?
Will You hold me close so I can thrive?
When You touch me, that's when I know I'm alive
Down here in the valley
Nothing's able to grow
'Cause the light's too low
Folks spend their days
Digging 'round for diamonds and gold
'Til they just get old
And they don't know anything else
They don't know they're breathing bad air
But I'm tired of living like this
And my soul cries out, "If You're there...
Call me up to Your side
Draw me up to Your light
Let it blind me
Lord, refine me
Refine me out of my mind
Music by Peter Furler / Lyrics by Peter Furler and Steve Taylor

The lyrics in the verses express the hopelessness and despair of life in a sin-wracked world.  It expresses the longing of the soul for communion and life with the only One who can wash us and rescue us from the hopelessness and despair of life under the sun.


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