A curse and a Kingdom: An Unriddling

Yesterday I finally watched The Giver and started a post about it… but alas I did not save and it was lost, so rather than try to type it all out again, I went back to my scripts.

Today however, is a new day (well, night), and as David composed the Psalms to unriddle his heart, so do I write to unriddle mine.

I won’t get into The Giver just yet, other than that it’s a fantastic book. I may revisit it again some other day. Right now, is just good ol’ blogging, virtual journaling. No real direction, no real lesson to be shared, only thoughts. We’ll see if a nugget comes out of it. A nugget of course, being some lightbulb moment when a thing clicks or when a sense of something ceases to be a feeling, but rather something more tangible that can be articulated.

As my media course is making more aware of, everything we do online is data. Flat screen versions of ourselves that in the future will be an archive on who we were, it will be a part of our legacy. Legacy has kind of been the thing I’m noticing lately.

When we’re gone and the digital age goes full blown, digital archaeologists will dig up “deleted” data, compile all our accounts, uncover forgotten secrets. What will our children see? What will our grand children or great-grandchildren? What barbaric acts of oppression are we allowing or fighting today that will make them ashamed or proud? What lifestyle, what mentality are we perpetuating in culture at large? What world are we setting up for them?

It’s unsettling to me how complacent I am towards these questions, which I suppose is something of a step forward. But legacy goes beyond a lifetime, or a few generations. Sure, generational memory only lasts for about 3, maybe 4 of them, but I’m talking about the thought of eternity. Looking at legacy through that lens is… dizzying.

“Walk by faith and not by sight.” I see it every Sunday at church as we walk through the book of Genesis. God makes a promise over and over and over again, and no one has seen it completed to the full. Yes, there’s the nations as numerous as the stars and the sand on the shore, yes there’s the promised land, yes there’s David’s kingdom of Israel, and yes there’s even a Messiah in Jesus Christ. But the promise of restoration, of His kingdom come, of perfection and order in the cosmos and reality for the rest of eternity…

People who don’t believe in eternal life tend to be afraid or at least anxious about death – its finality, the unknown. But as someone who believes firmly in eternal life… it’s not as scary as it is daunting. I mean, the sheer size of it. The Bible says we’ll be of flesh and bone, not these wispy spirit-like beings in another realm or plane of existence. Real bodies. Going on forever. Doing… life. Real life. True life. As it was originally designed.

Speaking of cosmos, one of the scientific laws (thermodynamics?) states that the universe tends toward disorder. That’s a physical law now. Is it even possible to imagine when it wasn’t so? What would that mean, what would that do?!

Hearing ice crack on a frozen lake is almost a surreal experience. Like thunder beneath your feet. Personally, I get a little rush of adrenaline when I hear it in my dad’s little ice fishing tent. When Adam and Eve took those bites out of the forbidden fruit, they fractured the universe. Who knows if it made a sound, but if it did, could you imagine? I’m getting goosebumps just thinking about it.

They lost their innocence, their perfect health, their immortality, their joy. The distance that sin opened up between God and humanity became as infinite as the peace and goodness they once had in Eden.

We don’t know what that kind of universe is like, and yet our hearts and souls somehow remember it, long for it. We chase it in relationships, in careers, in achievement, in affirmation, in our pursuit of happiness and self-actualization. We know there’s more than this, we know we have to go up. But not up the social ladder. The curse of sin has flipped everything backwards, upside down and inside out. Up in the eyes of men is down in the eyes of God. Success in the eyes of men is failure in the eyes of God. Love in the eyes of men is hate in the eyes of God.

Men would have us be at the billion dollar penthouse, God would have us serving the least of these. Men would have us pursue the American dream. God would have us pursue an everlasting kingdom. Men would have us love ourselves to find ourselves. God would have us love Him and love others.

I love how death and man’s Fall is described as a curse. It reminds me of the show Once Upon A Time, where all these fairytale characters are cursed and wake up in a land without happy endings: our world. They think this is home, but they know somehow it’s not, even though they can’t articulate it. They don’t know who they really are, and they’re stuck living this “new life” trying to figure out this new given identity. There’s even a story book that tells the characters who they really are, who they were, who they’re meant to be. It’s hard to believe you’re a fairytale character though, and Henry is trying to convince everyone of the truth, but is instead labelled as crazy. The curse caster tries to keep the citizens ignorant for as long as possible… There’s even a prophecy of a Saviour that will lift the curse with true love.

So we’ve got a lost home, a curse, a loss of identity, a book that tells us everything we need to know about our true selves, someone with enough insight to see the truth but is scorned, an evil force holding on to its power for as long as it can, and a Savior to lift the curse. Or in other words, Heaven, death, sin, prophet, Satan, Jesus (who gave His life out of True love, breaking the curse of death). Of course, while strong, the parallels only go so far and are NOT completely representative.

But all that’s probably my biggest draw toward the show. I mean, I know it’s supposed to be polysemous so that audiences can superimpose their own readings on it like that but… what if this is evidence of a fallen heart reaching out to a homeland they’ve never seen?

However, with dystopian literature becoming more and more popular, the idea of true Paradise doesn’t seem so appealing. Every time we try to think of paradise, it ends up becoming one of ignorance or tyranny or both. It’s unsustainable. In other words, perfection does not compute. That’s part of our “curse.” In true curse-like fashion, we know perfect peace and a perfect world exists… somewhere, somehow, but we know we cannot attain it. We can never attain it.

It’s not far spatially… we won’t find it at the end of the universe, if there is such a thing. It’s not far temporally, we won’t find it at the end of time if such a thing exists. The distance is ironically at the closest and deepest level: our hearts, our souls.

I suppose this is where The Giver could come in. In the movie, Meryl Streep’s character calls humanity weak and selfish, and if given the choice we’ll always choose wrong. Always? Maybe. Maybe not. But we are not pure beings. Whether it is in thought, or deed, or word, or motive… there is at least one drop of poison.

But enough doom and gloom. Being the faithful Father that He is, there is a remedy. His name is Jesus. I’m tempted to kind of gloss over this bit partly because it makes people uncomfortable (if I haven’t already), partly because I’ve told this story so many times, practicing or preaching it to myself to remind me… I need the repetition, even if it does make me feel like a parrot.

That’s another part of the curse, I think. Forgetting. We are so easy to forget, which makes it so easy to blame God. No wonder all over the Bible, there are laws and events to help us remember. Remember what happened here, remember what was done, what was achieved, remember the fallen, remember the promise.

Remember the last supper, when Jesus broke the bread and poured the wine. His body broken for us. His blood shed for us. He fills that infinite chasm between us and what our hearts long for. He satisfies that anxiety, that insatiable pit in our gut. He exchanged His perfection for our condemnation. When we lost our right standing with God, He had every right to destroy us before we ran the rest of his creation into the ground. And this sin will eventually be destroyed. But what Jesus’ death on the cross means for us is that, when that sin is destroyed, if we exchanged our “death tag” for Jesus’ righteousness, that sin isn’t on us. The sin is destroyed without us.

Where did it go? On Christ. He is destroyed with sin. Except if that were completely true, we’d have no hope and all was for naught. Our hope is in the resurrection, that Christ put death in its own grave. This is the sign of the curse lifted. Of a kingdom of perfect peace restored.

I’ll say it again, our hope is in the resurrection. Crazy, right? It seems like our salvation is hanging by a thread, and in a way it is… but are we walking by faith or by sight? It is a leap of faith across infinity. If we try to make that leap on our own, we will fall. God is called the author and perfecter of our faith… everything about our salvation is God’s work.

But why? Why do all of this for us? Why not wipe us out and start over? Why not snap your fingers and fix us now? Why let us suffer through this life? Stephen Fry, an atheist, was asked what he’d say if he were to meet God. Every time I come across people like this, I can feel the deep anger and frustration rise up from the pit of their souls and roll off the blades of their tongues. It’s like my intuition and empathy sensitivity or whatever, spikes. Suddenly it’s like my soul has goosebumps.

I’m not at all offended by their answers. I’m heartbroken. I’ve never been a relationship so I don’t know what it’s like to get dumped, but somehow I doubt that it compares to this. The rebellion, the cosmic treason they may or may not know they’re committing by attributing the work of sin to the work of God is heartbreaking. It’s indescribable, and I know people who haven’t experienced this heartbreak will have no idea what I’m talking about. When I made myself read Fry’s answer, my emotional reaction let me into a glimpse of “Father forgive them, for they know not what they do.”

We don’t want your pity, they say. You can’t tell us what to believe, they say. None of it makes any sense anyway, they say.

This isn’t pity. This isn’t disappointment. This isn’t hate. What I felt was… mourning. Deep mourning.

Hearing someone rejecting God isn’t like when someone trash talks your mother. It’s like watching someone commit suicide.

My friends try not to take the Lord’s name in vain in front me, and while I appreciate the effort, I know they do it just so that I’m not “offended.” But though they say oh my word, or gosh or goodness, in their hearts, they cry god louder than their voices can.

But what’s the big deal, they ask? This is the God that gave up everything for us. His heavenly throne, his life… I asked earlier why didn’t God just fix us or destroy us. He gave us a way out instead, he’s inviting us back to the garden. Some are accepting. Some are ripping up the invitation, chewing it and spitting it in His face. That’s the big deal.

People out there call my worldview intellectual suicide, that we use it like a crutch. It’s meant to roast us, but… in a way their hearts are crying out that truth. We need the crutch. Can you imagine? A hospital wing full of people with broken legs… the ones on the crutch, on the mend, and the ones trying to stand without them.

I’m sure there are some of you thinking what a load of BS.

Suffering, disease, death, torture, evil, murder, rape, genocide… I don’t want to worship a God who allows that to run rampant, they say.

How short-sighted, through the lens of eternity. As a part of fallen humanity, you’re longing for a perfect world where there’s no war, no death, no sadness, no grief, no sickness or disease… but you cling to the flesh that allow all those things to exist. Like the citizens of Storybrooke from Once Upon A Time, you’re trying to find home, but you’re trying to find it in the cursed land where you don’t belong. And you want it now.

But home for the fairytale characters doesn’t operate in a world without magic. Home for us doesn’t operate in a world without God. But still our sinful pride says, but why should I worship Him?

If you were an orphan child just escaping disaster, lost everything, suffered unimaginably… and were rescued, then adopted, then supported, then loved unconditionally, would you not adore this Father? Not because you had to, but because… you just did. If other children who went through the same ordeals got adopted into this new, whole, family, wouldn’t your bonds be stronger than blood? And then, what if you learned that the man who adopted you actually went through the same thing as well, wouldn’t you try to be like him, to persevere out of this struggle? And then, what if He told you that you could help him adopt more people into his family, wouldn’t you go out and say, “come, there’s room!” And how would you feel when someone you knew declined or blatantly rejected that invitation? Now how would you feel if you learned that that person chose to go with an abusive family instead?

Because that’s what the pleasures of this world are. Abusive. Addiction, whether it is alcohol, drugs, pornography, instagram, image, self-pity, self, anything… who’s really in control there? And for you who consider yourselves good people, what are you really striving for in life? Happiness? Money? Success? Inner Peace? Happiness ebbs and flows. Money is earned and squandered. Success is fleeting. Inner Peace is Tantalus’ fruit; always just out of reach. These are empty wells that sin taunts us with. A bratty lion cub cruelly playing with its prey. A master abusing his slave. A trail of food leading us to the slaughter house.

We need the gospel. Daily. We need to be repaired, renewed and redeemed daily by it.

But there’s another thing that’s unsettling me, and this is to myself and my brothers and sisters out there. It’s terrifying saying, “come there’s room!” The world has made it so. This is where the tension I’ve been feeling lately is coming from. On the one hand, I just want to be done with this curse and see Your kingdom come… but I know that in wishing that, in a way I am condemning the billions that have declined or haven’t opened that invitation.

In my media course, we talked briefly about responsibility, and how as we have had the privilege of education, we ought to use that to change the world. As Christians, we have the privilege of knowing God, and knowing that His wrath and His kingdom are coming. Is it not our responsibility to change the world? To build the kingdom?

Not the physical kingdom obviously, but the numbers of people to fill it. Here’s where legacy comes back in, if you’ve been reading this far. Those who stood by when the civil rights movement was going on can’t say much if their children ask what they did to change the world. How much will we be able to say when we have to give an account to the God of the universe of what we did to change the world? HIs world. His people.

Going out there to save the lost is scary yes, but shouldn’t we be more afraid of God than of men? Who’s disappointment would we rather receive? The answer is obvious, and yet what I know in my head hasn’t yet reached my heart.

The tools I believe I’ve been equipped with are my words, my pen, my quill, and I write the same story over and over and over. To remember. To keep saying, “come, there’s room!” I know full well this message isn’t always a nice one. I know full well I’ll be scorned. Creatives are perhaps the most sensitive to rejection and yet must face it more than anyone else. And now I’ve got this added layer of rejection?

It’s hard. It’s exhausting. It’s heartbreaking.

I’ve come to terms (I think) with rejection in my career. Rejection for bad writing, bad ideas, bad timing. If I never find success as a screenwriter or any kind of writer… I know my God will take care of me. After all, I have life eternal to look forward to.

But if I get rejected for my faith, for my beliefs, if spiritually I get a stoning, and feel that mourning… Am I ready for that?

And here’s where grace comes in yet again: I want to build the kingdom with words and with scripts – but the kingdom is not contingent on my success. Because all the work is God’s. He’s the One who moves in the hearts of men. He’s the One use picks and chooses what tools build the kingdom. I’m not the one bringing people in. I don’t host the event, I’m only the one mailing the invitation. Rejection is not failure.

See? I know all this. But still I don’t do it. That is, sharing the gospel vocally. It means seeing people face to face. It means physicality. Do I really want to use written word to spread the gospel, or am I just hiding behind my screen because it’s easier? As they say, the cause is just. But my motives? Uncertain.

This is tonight’s struggle. These are tonight’s thoughts. I don’t know what tomorrow brings, but with each morning i’ll rise and sing.

1100

P.S. Song/mood while writing this post: Rosebud by Marco Beltrami. Lyrics that inspired this post: This I believe (The Creed) by Hillsong.

I believe in God the Father. I believe in Christ the Son. I believe in the Holy Spirit, our God is three in one. I believe in the resurrection, when we will rise again, for I believe in the name of Jesus. I believe in life eternal. I believe in the virgin birth. I believe in the Saints’ communion, and in Your Holy Church. I believe in the resurrection, when we will rise again, for I believe in the name of Jesus.

#HeSpeaksToMeThroughSongs

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2 thoughts on “A curse and a Kingdom: An Unriddling

  1. Pingback: 10 Paradoxes of the Creative Mind | Equipped with a Quill

  2. There would be so much I would like to say in response, Mel, but I doubt I would remember it all here, so… I’m just in awe… How your words flowed so easily and projected clearly, and especially the parts where we have things in common, that is, our struggle to clearly show (and live, at least in my case) the Gospel… It’s been too long since I’ve really read my Bible; I’m trying to find a way back to doing so…

    The first time I read through this post, that song verse you put at the end reminded me of this:

    Really similar, no?

    The second time around, when you described the Gospel so well yet again, I thought of this one:

    You know of at least one of those songs, don’t you?

    Now, I’m not sure exactly how to articulate what I feel when I see or hear opposition to the Gospel (mainly through social media), but it’s definitely a painful feeling, since I feel a few emotions towards such things. (Now that I think about it a bit more, admittedly, I feel both hate and heartbreak towards them…)

    Like

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