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I was reading a book the other day which noted that the way we use metaphors to describe something has a huge effect on how we perceive it.  For example, the terminology surrounding ‘cancer’ all relates to war.  People ‘battle’ cancer; they ‘fight’ cancer; they ‘don’t give up’; and they ‘beat’ cancer or ‘lose their brave fight’. Whether this is helpful is certainly debatable.

The book then went on to ask what metaphors we use to describe love.  It drew out that we use economic metaphors.  We ‘value’ people; they are ‘worth it’; we ‘treasure’ people. This terminology implies that we ‘give’ our love to people who ‘deserve’ it – who can ‘reciprocate’. This also gives the impression that we only have a finite amount of love – because we need to ‘spend’ it on those who we deem ‘valuable’. We don’t want to ‘waste’ our love. It’s…’rational’.

But is this how love is meant to be? To be only showered on someone when reciprocated?  It doesn’t seem that this is what Jesus meant when he was telling us the parable of the Good Samaritan.  The Samaritan did not save his love for someone who he thought would be worth it or who could pay him back. He was not worried about the cost to himself. He only thought about what he had to do.

Jesus also loves us this much. He does not care what we can and can’t do. Let’s be real, it’s not like we can do anything on our own, so we’d be very lost if Jesus loved in economic terms – if we could give him something in return for His love.  He loves us because of who He is.

So if Jesus doesn’t love in a ‘rational’ way, how does he love? What’s terms do we use to describe Jesus’ love?

He radiates love. His love brightens our lives (and obviously so much more). He loves away the shadows. His love brings light into the dark. His love shines on everyone, regardless of their ability to reciprocate. His nature is love – it’s an all-consuming, burning ball of fire.

Was that a bit on the nose? I think the metaphor for Jesus’ love is the sun.

Can we put this into our lives? Can we start to shine on others – regardless of how they treat us? Can we brighten others’ day, even if they won’t appreciate it? Even if they are ice-cold to you, can you try and be warm towards them?

We love because He first loved us. We love because of who we are – because we know how much we are loved. We don’t have to love others only because of what they’re worth to us. We can shower love on others irrespective of their own nature.

We must learn to love like Jesus. Jesus loves like the sun shines. We must learn to love like the sun shines.

 

Sources:

D Miller, ‘Blue Like Jazz’.

1 John 4:19

 

 

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Only with CS Lewis do I read a fictional work and immediately recognise myself. My spirit is ashamed and can only accuse itself – ‘this is you. this is how base and wretched you are. learn from this’.

Till We Have Faces is an incredible story and I believe has a different meaning for everyone who reads it and will have a different emphasis each time one reads it.

This time, it showed me how base I am. How I sit in my folly and how at some point I stopped struggling to come closer to God and simply gave up. This cannot be how it is – one must fight. I need to humble myself, and humble myself further and think of others and pray to the God with a Face that I can become transformed. Nothing else matters – not other people’s thoughts, not offensive words, not unkind deeds, not unfair situations, not unfulfilled dreams. All that matters is that I walk this road with Him who allows me to.

I expect as I read it again more things will come to mind. I encourage people to read this when they need spurring on, a meaty spiritual nourishment, that causes us to really Run in this Race until we are out of the Shadowlands and finally have faces.

I never saw the power of Psalms. To me it was like yeah, it’s great, David is praising God – as we all should – but it’s not directly applicable like Romans, Hebrews, or Philippians, you know? It’s a lot of (very beautiful) poetry.

I was wrong. Very wrong.

My dad suggested reading a Psalm a day. I’ve started it this year and it’s changing my life. He suggested a cool system so that no matter where I am, what I’m doing, which Bible I’m using, I can know which is the Psalm for the day. And somehow each day’s Psalm has thus far been so. on. point.

THE SYSTEM:

There are 150 Psalms. If we take each month to be 30 days, we can read 150 Psalms in 5 months. How to average each month to 30 Psalms – just re-read a Psalm on the 31st. Then, plug the numbers in this equation and read your Psalm!
[(month number – 1)*30] + (day of month)

Why this system is useful: say it’s April 14th. I know the Psalm I read is gonna be Psalms 104 with just a quick calculation: [(month number – 1)*30] + (day of month) = [(4-1)*30] + 14 = 104.

A different way to look at it follows:
January 1 – Psalms 1

January 30 – Psalms 30
January 31 – Psalms 30 or Psalms 31
February 1 – Psalms 31

February 15 – Psalms 30 +15 = Psalms 45

March 23 – Psalms 60 + 23 = Psalms 83

Whew! Okay, I promise, it’s a lot simpler than it looks once you get the hang of it. It’s so easy to keep track of when you’re on the go and most importantly, God sends you exactly what you need each day!

 

My parents have an amazing engagement story. They were in different continents, it was an arranged marriage, there were multiple misunderstandings, and both said no to each other at some point. Needless to say, this is a common dinner party story and it’s hilarious (my dad maintains that he never said no – he just said he ‘had to think about it’ and my mom thinks that might be worse).

In the same way, there are some super cool conversion stories out there – those magical moments of ‘and THEN this happened’. Think Paul on the road to Damascus-style. Those are truly exciting – wow, how cool to be able to know that God chose you so clearly and monumentally.

Sometimes I get confused cause I don’t know when my conversion was. I know when I got baptised, when I came back to living a Christ-like life, etc. But there are still so many times when I fall and get ‘re-converted’. And sometimes I feel like this messes up the timeline. How do I tell people when I got converted, if more stuff keeps coming up and I realise I didn’t take it as seriously as I should’ve? Was I not converted? Was I ‘half-way converted’? What is the story?!

The answer is – it doesn’t matter. You can only see a teeeeny-tiny part of your ‘story’. Why would you think that you yourself are able to tell it in a bigger way? You have no idea how the story goes. But God does. So why not stop worrying about the broader meaning behind your timeline and your story and just focus on doing what He tells you to do today? That way we are pressing further up and further in – so we get more light, so we come to more perfection. That’s the true conversion – God wants to change our nature so we become more like Him. Time is nothing to Him – the timeline is irrelevant. He wants us to be focused on what His will is and not trying to fit our story onto a timeline we think we have control over.

Also relevant:

What That Means – Adam Ford

I went to watch a superhero movie today! I love the genre. The action, the witty repartee, the deep advice. The backstory, the conversion, the development, the trial, the dejection/rejection, the turning point, and the win in the end!

I wonder if that is similar to another Story.  And I’m certainly not the only one who’s done so.

When C. S. Lewis was on his journey to being converted, the process was through a discussion of myths. J. R. R. Tolkein drew Lewis’s attention to the fact that all myths have certain similar elements. Whether pagan or heroic, they had a semblance to Christianity.  He then demonstrated to Lewis that in fact, these myths were a reflection of Christianity.

The Gospel, according to converted Lewis and Tolkein, contained a fairy-story – which was true and historical. And what can other myths do but point to this True and Beautiful story – the Primary Story.

“I think that all things, in their way, reflect heavenly truth, the imagination not least.” – C. S. Lewis

What does this mean for us? It means that we can see God’s glory – His majestic story – displayed all around us. Rather than cause us to disbelieve God’s word because it is ‘just another fable’, we can realise that all other fables point to him – that everyone is in search for a ‘Savior’ – Someone to have been chosen, to go through a point at which He has given everything for us, and then, of course, to WIN. And this has happened!!

Incidentally, about 85 years after Tolkein and Lewis strolled on the grounds of Magdalen College, Oxford and had this discussion, I myself while at Oxford had to come to this point. An acquaintance was in disbelief that I could believe in God ‘because that’s like me believing in a little green monster under my bed’. I at the time had no response. (I mean…how rude?) But it led to my own development and my ability to now say that it’s True, so how can I not believe it? It’s Real, so how can I not shout it aloud? There is no other explanation for the redemption of mankind, no other story that is as complete, as perfect as this one. It is not insane, but rather Glorious, and Beautiful, and True.

SDG.

For a deeper explanation of the above, see:
The God of Men—and of Elves: Tolkien, Lewis, and Christian Mythology
The Conversion Story of C. S. Lewis
Three Objections to Fairy Tales and C. S. Lewis’s Response

Pride is the worst. Literally, the worst. Pride is at the root of most sin (arguably all) and it’s so easy to slip into!

I’ve talked about it before, but I want to talk about another aspect of pride – trusting in yourself.

We all trust in ourselves – our intelligence, our discipline, our commitment, our passion, etc. We think we can do things on our own. All our achievements are just that – our achievements. Even when there is evidence that we are lacking, we still somehow, very irrationally, believe that we achieved because of our star-spangled awesomeness.

But who is it who really gives us anything?

My grandfather converted very late in life. And his favorite verse after that was:

Isaiah 65:24

For all those things My hand has made, And all those things exist,’ says the Lord. ‘But on this one will I look: On him who is poor, and of a contrite spirit, and who trembles at My word.’

I’ve been freaking out about the future, and how I might not get everything I thought I deserved. But over the course of the day, it’s been made clear to me that I never deserved anything. Everything that is, God has made. God gives and He can take away. And regardless of how much I work, how bright I am, how right I am even, God has to bless me for me to get anything at all.

Not understanding that, thinking that I could do it on my own, is pride. Thinking that I can’t do it on my own and then panicking is also pride. Not trusting God because I don’t see how things will work out for me is lack of faith. We must know that we can’t achieve anything  on our own and then trust God to give us what’s best for us.

Let us remain poor, of a contrite spirit, and continue to humble ourselves before God’s mighty hand.

 

P.S. I don’t mean ‘don’t do anything cause it’s pointless’. I mean do what you can and trust God to do the rest.

A friend recently asked me this out of the blue. I had to think about it – I was going through a rough time – but I was able to answer yes. Yes I am happy. Genuinely happy regardless of my circumstances. I’m aware that the problems I’m facing are only surface deep – that below this I am growing roots that are pulling me closer to God so of course I am happy. [‘Happy’ I guess I take to mean joy/contentedness. Ie, living in the knowledge that one is on the right Way.]

Which got me to thinking about what a wonderful question that is to ask someone. ‘Are you happy?’ It’s different to ‘How are you?’ or ‘What’s up?’. It allows the other person to reflect, to think on their circumstances and decide – are they happy? are they unhappy? If they are, then great! They can be reminded of how happy they are!  If they are not, then you get to help them – to see why. To maybe try and help them become happy. What a wonderful way to get to know someone better. What a wonderful opportunity for the recipient to take a step back and see the big picture.

I then decided that I was gonna ask this question to others, and told my friend this.  She said that the only reason she asked me was because I’d asked her whether she was happy the last time we met! What a wonderful circle of happiness!