A particular toy or a particular ikon may be itself a work of art, but that is logically accidental; its artistic merits will not make it a better toy or a better ikon. They may make it a worse one. For its purpose is not to fix attention upon itself but to stimulate and liberate certain activates in the child or the worshipper. The teddy bear exists in order that the child may endow it with imaginary life and personality and enter into a quasi-social relationship with it. That is what “playing with is” means. The better this activity succeeds the less the actual appearance of the object will matter. Too close or prolonged attention to its changeless and expressionless face impedes the play. A crucifix exists in order to direct the worshipper’s thought and affections to the Passion. It had better not have any excellences, subtleties, or originalities which will fix attention upon itself. Hence devout people may, for this purpose, prefer the crudest and emptiest ikon. The emptier, the more permeable; and they want, as it were, to pass through the material image and go beyond.
~ CS Lewis
Likewise the Spirit helps us in our weakness. For we do not know what to pray for as we ought, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us with groanings too deep for words. And he who searches hearts knows what is the mind of the Spirit, because the Spirit intercedes for the saints according to the will of God. And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose. For those whom he foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the image of his Son, in order that he might be the firstborn among many brothers. And those whom he predestined he also called, and those whom he called he also justified, and those whom he justified he also glorified. … What then shall we say to these things? If God is for us, who can be against us? He who did not spare his own Son but gave him up for us all, how will he not also with him graciously give us all things? Who shall bring any charge against God’s elect? It is God who justifies. Who is to condemn? Christ Jesus is the one who died—more than that, who was raised—who is at the right hand of God, who indeed is interceding for us. Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or danger, or sword? As it is written, “For your sake we are being killed all the day long; we are regarded as sheep to be slaughtered.” … No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. For I am sure that neither death nor life, nor angels nor rulers, nor things present nor things to come, nor powers, nor height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord.
~ paul, The Least of The Apostles, in Romans 8
Oh beloved, it is true.
There is a G_d. And this G_d is the giver of all good things. He shows us the sun. He gives us the rain. We find work that helps pay the bills. He gives us a woman or a man to Love. Food finds its way to our table. And shelter keeps us from having to experience too much of the rain that comes.
All of it is beautiful. We eat. We sleep. We run. We play. Every single bit of this is good. But, it is only bits and pieces. And so, the questions we need to ask are actually pretty important here: “What does this mean?” And, “What should I do?”
Can we see it?
What does all this mean? Why would a good G_d be so willing to give us life and goods, and circumstances that bring us hope? This fool of a writer has recently been blown away by the generosity of a number of people, who listened to Him and sent us some very needed funds. The funds have totaled over $21,000 to help us with a number of issues surrounding our departure from China.
Gifts are pointers. Each dollar is an ikon to directs my gaze to SomeOne else. And so, what this means is that I have a choice to simply devour the gift and look for more of the same – or, I can receive the gift and let it raise my gaze to the Giver.
However, once we get an understanding of the meaning of the gift, the question quickly becomes, “what should I do?” And this part is often the hardest part. For, the gifts we receive are some of the most incredible gifts. They are beautiful and they help us gain some of the security and beauty we need in this life.
But, what now?
Are we able to look past the gift? Are we able to actually quit looking at the gift as though it has its own innate value? Are we able to actually go after the Source of the value. For this is what we must do. The gifts are but signposts along the path to the center of His Great Heart.
So, have you been seeing the gifts He is sending your way? Maybe today is your (and this fool of a writer’s) day to realize what we are truly looking for. Him. G_d alone is exceedingly, abundantly more than enough.
The deeper we grow in the Spirit of Jesus Christ, the poorer we become – the more we realize that everything in life is a gift. The tenor of our lives becomes one of humble and joyful thanksgiving. Awareness of our poverty and ineptitude causes us to rejoice in the gift of being called out of darkness into wondrous light and translated into the kingdom of God’s beloved Son.
~ Brennan Manning