Unicorn’s Pursuit: Chapter 6

“I understand,” said the man.

Dawn broke above the waves, and the man and the unicorn continued on their journey.

“There was a time when I too was alone. Everywhere I looked, all the creatures were given one like them, but I had to use my gifts on my own,” said the man.

The unicorn listened intently.

“All our longings are seen, all our questions are heard, all our pain is remembered,” said the man. “No one was made to be alone.”

The unicorn just kept walking, his gait getting stronger every hour.

“What are you thinking?” asked the man.

“‘No one was made to be alone.’ It reminded me of the herd, is all. Some of the older stallions called me ‘little lamb,'” he said.

“Lamb, you say?” said the man.

“Pure, and docile. Always following,” he said, with a hint of resentment. “But I’m not helpless.”

“Far from it!” said the man. As they walked, they fell into another silence. They journeyed for almost half a day before the unicorn spoke again.

“I’m afraid,” said the unicorn quite suddenly.

“About what?” asked the man.

“Is there really one like me? Who understands all my layers, who sees all of me, who can join me in my calling, and I in hers?” he asked.

“That’s not for me to answer,” said the man, “but I know that if you are to find her, you are sure to find her.”

Ahead of them, the mountain rose high into the clouds.

“Is that where you raced up to?” asked the man.

“It is. Perhaps one day I will make the trek again on my own,” said the unicorn.

“Oh, perhaps not with the herd, but surely not alone,” said the man with a wink. His fantastical friend noticed, but said nothing. What did he mean, exactly?

The man patted him on his hide.

“You realize though,” he said, “that if there is one like you, you are as rare to her as she is to you.” He swept his arm across the landscape before them. “She could be searching as hard as you have, waiting for you just as long.”

The unicorn stopped. “I hadn’t thought of that,” he said.

“The world is much larger than we can imagine,” said the man. “It could be that you’re further apart than you realize, and it will take time before you meet.”

“It could be,” said the unicorn, thinking.”So what should I do, teacher?”

The man looked towards the hills and the mountains, and the unicorn’s path was plain to him.

“Make yourself visible, be beacon not only for her, but for all those around you,” said the man. “And not only for others, but for yourself too,” he said. “The song inside you was not meant to be hidden. It’s bursting from you.” He pointed to the mountain’s summit.

“If you sing from up there, who knows who will come to listen?” said the man.

The unicorn blinked as his eyes followed the mountain’s side to its summit, just hidden in the clouds. Alone, the trek would be tiring. Daunting.

The man nudged him. “You don’t seem like one to shy away from a challenge,” he said.

“No, I’m not,” said the unicorn, pawing the ground.

The man and the unicorn reached a fork in the road, the man’s path going one way, and the unicorn’s another.

“The horses usually race from the other side. This path is yours to make,” said the man. “Perhaps you’re the only one who can make it.”

The unicorn hasn’t taken his eyes off the summit. “The thought of it, of all of it, scares me and pleases me at the same time. How can that be?”

The man shrugged. “You’re talking to a man destined to walk over the whole Earth. I don’t know how, but one day I reckon we’ll understand,” said the man.

The unicorn bowed once. “Thank you, teacher,” he said. “Truly, thank you.”

The man returned his bow and almost started down his path. “Oh, I nearly forgot.” The unicorn turned back.

The man rose on his tip toes while the unicorn lowered his head a little. As he whispered in the unicorn’s ear, his piercing eyes grew wide. His whole being seemed to brighten, and be full of life.

The man, quite pleased, said, “I thought of it when you sang.”

The unicorn bent a knee low. “Thank you, teacher, thank you. Thank you.”

“Remember, I will call you by name. I know you by name.” The unicorn smiled. “Oh and one more thing,” said the man.

“When you start missing someone you’ve never met,” he pointed to the sky. “Just look to the stars. They’ll light the way in the dark.”

As they parted ways, the unicorn never forgot.

Unicorn’s Pursuit: Chapter 5

The unicorn sat in the sand while the man treated his back in the dying light.

“I wasn’t ready yet. I didn’t feel like a horse yet. Until I could be the best even with the sandbags, I wouldn’t take them off. But I was a fool,” he said.

The man said nothing as he helped the beast.

“The horses were sending their best to race up this mountain. I was about to go with them and considered taking the bags off then, but the moment I tried…” The man’s hands hung mid-reach for more salve.

“I could barely stand,” said the unicorn. “The herd had no choice but to leave me behind.”

“Then I found you,” said the man.

“No, you didn’t,” said the unicorn. “After the horses had gone, I let my horn glow. I couldn’t heal everything, but I was well enough to canter.

“I ran through the night when the others would be resting and caught up with them by morning. We reached the summit a few nights ago. I completed my training, I was one with the herd,” he said.

“You can heal…” said the man.

“When I said you were skilled you didn’t think I was just saying so, did you?” asked the unicorn. “When the horses would sleep, I’d heal their sick and weary. It was the least I could do.”

“And who healed you?” asked the man. The unicorn didn’t have to reply.

“Perhaps,” he started. “Could it be that,” said the unicorn. “Could that be my purpose? To heal?”

The man brought the unicorn back on dry sand and they started a fire while the stars emerged.

“Something tells me that your gifts go beyond mere healing, it’s just that no one’s noticed ’til now,” said the man. The unicorn was amazed. Who was this man that he saw what no one else could?

The man did not keep the silence this time. After hearing more of the unicorn’s tale, he saw in him a familiar longing, one that had been turned to pain.

“Why did you leave the herd then?” he asked. The unicorn took his time answering. He knew he was being drawn out.

“I was lonely,” said the unicorn. “Even with those I thought of as brothers, even with those I could compete against, even when there weren’t many who still thought I could never belong… I was alone. Accepted but not known, loved but not understood,” said the unicorn.

“I will never fully leave the herd, but by now it was clear that I needed to look for my own kind, and make my own mark, follow my own gifts. I had just returned to my life of wandering when you met me,” he said.

“How timely,” said the man. He poked at the kindling in the fire. “You enjoyed running, but you had to train for it. So what is it that you would really like to do, what comes naturally to you?”

The unicorn smiled. He looked up at the stars and closed his eyes. His horn glowed and a beautiful song resonated from his being. The man could not tell where exactly it was coming from.

It was like it came from everywhere and inside him, as though he were listening with his mind and not his ears. As if the instrument the unicorn was playing were his very heartstrings.

The melodies were pure, but haunting. They were hopeful but sad. They were just as unicorn was: lonely.

“I am on a quest to have this question answered,” said the unicorn. “I will pursue it with everything I have.”

Unicorn’s Pursuit: Chapter 4

The man and the unicorn came to the seashore, letting the waves wash their feet and hooves.

“Let’s rest a while,” said the man. He pulled out the bloodied ropes and muddy sandbags. Picking one up, he tossed it from hand to hand.

“You… kept them?” asked the unicorn.

“I couldn’t leave them on the road. Someone has to carry them,” said the man. “I’m quite strong enough,” he said.

“No, please, I can’t have you carry my burdens. Please, let me carry them on my back for you,” said the unicorn. “In fact, put everything on my back. Ride me the rest of way,” pleaded the unicorn.

The man gave him a sideways look. “Your back hasn’t healed yet, and you want to take on a burden greater than the one you carried? One that isn’t yours to bear?” asked the man.

“Well…” started the unicorn.

“I was instructed to walk and care, so care and walk I will,” said the man.

Seagulls chirped above them, riding the thermals. The beach was cool and tranquil.

“Tell me about these bags,” said the man. “Where did they come from? Where did you come from?” he asked.

The unicorn straightened his muscular shoulders and faced the horizon. “I came from the same place as you, I imagine,” he answered slyly.

The man gave him a gentle splash. “Alright, alright. And the bags?”

As the tide went down, a smooth black rock appeared in the sand. The man sat, ready for the unicorn’s tale.

“I came upon the herd of horses running in the field one day,” he began. “I’d been wandering on my own, looking for something for many years.

“One of the colts found me, and wanted to play. What he didn’t know is that though I was only a little bigger than him, I was older than his grandmother,” said the unicorn.

“You’re an old soul, then,” said the man.

The unicorn reared on his hind legs and splashed the man as he landed. “Not unlike yourself, sir!”

Wiping the seawater from his eyes, he said, “but a child at heart nonetheless.”

The unicorn looked at the scars around his hooves, the memories pulling him back into his heaviness.

“The colt had a short, thick dark mane, and a rich brown coat that shined as he ran. I followed, and chased him through the tall grass, but he was much faster than I was. Finally when I was just close enough, I charged and tipped my head just so,” said the unicorn. “And my horn touched him.”

“He was a good sport about it, I hope?” said the man.

“I suppose. It was the first time I’d really played with anyone. After I’d tagged him, he stumbled to a stop and trotted over back to me. The poor lad had only just realized I’d had a horn at all!

“‘Where did that come from? That’s not fair, put it away!’ he cried. I told him quite simply I couldn’t and that it had always been there, but he wouldn’t believe me.”

“Hmm,” thought the man. “I suppose, with your silver coat and if your horn were shorter then, it could have gone unnoticed by young eyes.”

“Oh, what young eyes,” said the unicorn. “He’d never seen anything like me, and he thought I was a horse.” The unicorn smiled to himself. “Then again, I thought I was a horse. I’d never seen anyone who looked even a bit like me,” he said. “But that’s when the colt said something I haven’t stopped hearing since.

“‘You’re… strange,’ he said. ‘Strange?’ I asked. ‘Yeah! Um… different. I’m only a colt and you can’t run as fast as me, and you’re bigger than me. And your coat is different, and your voice is different, and you’re dull like the grown ups, but not quite as dull. And then you’ve got… that thing, of course.'”

“Ha, a tongue as quick as his gallop! Indeed you are different from the horses. I wouldn’t be surprised if you were made of moonlight itself,” interrupted the man.

The unicorn ignored his comment and recollected his thoughts.

“The colt brought me to the herd and the adults also weren’t sure what to make of me. Was I a horse, a child, an adult? I’m not sure why, but they invited me to stay. I had nowhere else to go, so joined their herd.

“Growing up with them, I had never belonged anywhere before, so I was determined to be a horse. With time, and training, I could run with them, and loved running. I even ran faster than some of the other horses.”

The man waited for the unicorn to continue, but he was still staring at the horizon.

“…And the bags?” asked the man cautiously.

“Oh, they were my training of course. If I could run day and night with the horses while I was weighed down, how much faster would I be without them?” said the unicorn. “Some nights I thought to myself, ‘once I’m fast enough to take these off, I may even grow wings and fly with the Pegasus,” he said.

The man surveyed the unicorn’s impressive figure. Muscular, powerful, lithe. Scarred, weary. Though he was capable, being a horse was not his element. Though he was content, he was not satisfied. It broke the man’s heart.

“I see you,” said the unicorn, almost playfully. How could the man have forgotten that piercing gaze?

“You’re wondering why I never took off the sandbags,” said the unicorn. The man adjusted his seat on the rock, waiting.

“Tell me,” he said.

Unicorn’s Pursuit: Chapter 3

After walking with the man for some time, the creature broke his silence. “Never before has anyone’s patience outlasted my own. You are the first I’ve met that understands silence.”

The man laughed.

“What is it?” asked the creature.

“Nothing at all,” said the man, still chuckling. “My wife keeps me in good practice when it comes to patience and silence.”

The creature brightened. “I see!” said the creature. What was this feeling?

“Oh my,” said the man.

“What is it?” asked the creature, alarmed.

“I do believe you’re smiling, friend,” said the man. The creature realized it too.

“Oh my, I am!” he exclaimed.

They continued walking and spoke of a great deal of things. Well, the man spoke of a great deal of things, while the creature was quite content to listen, learning of all that the man learned as he discovered the world over the years.

“You are quite knowledgeable, sir. If anyone can give me a name, and help me remember my purpose, it’s you,” said the creature.

“Let’s hope so, friend,” said the man. He thought for a moment. “How about this,” he said. “The name I’ll give you, your true name, when I find it, can be a secret between the two of us. Hidden, and perfectly suited. Until then, and when I call you in front of the other creatures, may I use the name the others are familiar with?”

“Hidden?” asked the creature.

“Mm,” said the man. “You are creature of great rarity, one that I sense has great power. Not only great power, but great integrity. Often, one is present and not the other,” he said. “I fear that once you’ve recovered your calling, you may be often sought after and it will be difficult for us to meet again,” he reasoned. “So, while many will call you by a name, and your glory attached to that name, there is only one name that you will answer to. Your secret name will be your name, and when you feel lost, at the hearing of it you will also know who calls you.”

The creature bowed to the man. “This is wise,” he said.

“Very well, then,” said the man. “How have the other creatures called you?”

“They saw plainly how I am like the pegasus and the horse and the narwhal,” said the creature. “But being almost like them, but not quite, they thought perhaps I am turning into either a pegasus or a horse or a narwhal,” he said.

“How interesting,” said the man, amused.

“I was like the pegasus but could not soar like they could. I was like the horse but could not run quite like them. I was like the narwhal but could not swim like them,” said the creature.

“In their eyes I was like a magnificent creature, but only almost. Imperfectly glorious,” he said. The man listened.

“So they called me ‘becoming great,'” said the creature. “But I was not changing, I was never changing, and so I would never be great,” he said.

The man was beginning to understand. “You said they called you a name based on how you look. How else did they call you?”

“Ah, that,” said the creature. He bowed his head, letting the man touch his horn. It was sharp, and strong and smooth.

“They called me ‘unicorn,'” he said.

“Unicorn,” said the man. He turned it over and over in his mind. Finally, he spoke. “Well, that won’t do at all!” he said. “By my honour, I’ll give you name that suits and pleases you,” he said. “But until then…”

The man stepped in front of the unicorn, and bowed slightly. “What an absolute pleasure to meet with you.”

Unicorn’s Pursuit: Chapter 2

When morning came, the man tended again to the creature’s wounds, and brought sweet fruit to eat.

“Thank you, sir,” said the creature. “You’re a skilled healer.” The man smiled. “These are your instructions?”

“Yes,” said the man. “May I ask what are yours?”

“I’ve forgotten.”

“Forgotten?” asked the man. Truly, he has never met a creature such as this. “No wonder you are so downcast! You’ve forgotten your gift. How can a creature do what it was meant to if you’ve forgotten what that thing is?”

The creature could not answer. This was his plight.

The man helped the creature to its feet. Already, he was getting stronger. “Perhaps I can help you remember.”

When the creature stood, the man was in awe. “Even with your wounds, how majestically made you are!”

The creature watched the man circle him round and round, back and forth. “What do you see?” he asked.

“How unique,” said the man, deep in thought.

“Unique?” said the creature.

“Yes! I’ve seen many, many creatures, but none like you.”

“Oh,” said the creature. The man noticed how sad the creature had become, so he did the only thing he’d been doing since he arrived on this Earth. He continued with his work.

The man touched the creature’s sides. “You have the strength and majesty of a pegasus, but not its wings.” He ran to the creature’s face. “And you have the face and the eyes of a wild horse, but,” the man looked between the creature’s ears.

“You bear the horn of the narwhal!” The man remembered the light he saw the night before. “A horn that brings light, like a sword reflecting the light of the moon.”

“Indeed,” said the creature, his voice full of melancholy. “I am strange, aren’t I.”

“Strange? Oh, I’m not sure about that,” said the man, marvelling at this new discovery. “I wouldn’t call you strange.”

The creature lifted his eyes until they met the man’s. It was the first time he had seen eyes grow wide, filled with compassion.

“My, what a piercing gaze you have, friend,” said the man. Overwhelmed, he took a few steps back to get a better look at the creature. “Surely a creature such as yourself has a great power, if only we could remember it. But first…” the man tilted his head to one side slightly.

“What should I call you?”

“I don’t have a name,” said the creature.

“No, of course not, I haven’t given you one yet, silly,” said the man.

“Am I silly?” asked the creature?

The man thought about it. “I suppose you could be, but that’s not all you are. No, no. Silly won’t do. We’ll need to find a name much better suited for you than that.”

“Those who know me gave me a name about my appearance,” said the creature.

“I see,” said the man. “Goodness, if I did that, an elephant may well be called a long-nose!” he laughed.

“How would you like to be called? I’ll consider it.”

The creature thought a while. “I’m not sure,” he said finally. “A name suited for my purpose.”

The man smiled. “Well said, friend,” he said. “Say, would you like to walk with me?”

“Where are you going?”

“Wherever the path leads,” said the man. “I am to care for those who are sent to me.”

“I’ll follow,” said the creature, a little brighter than before. It warmed the man’s heart. They began on the path, walking slowly.

The sun warmed their skin and a breeze swept the creature’s silky mane behind him. The creature did not speak. Never before had he been able to share such a blissful silence with someone.

Unicorn’s Pursuit: Chapter 1

As the years went on, the needs of the creatures became many. The Earth was large and the man had not yet walked on all its paths, though his years were many and his face was old.

One day, the woman said, “I will care for the needs of those whom we’ve already met, while you continue your journey. This way, we can accomplish what we had set out to do.”

The man admired her wisdom and found this a good thing to do. Though he did not prefer to be apart, he remembered that his question had already been answered long ago. Just as his instructions could not be taken away, neither would his answer. Though apart, he was not alone.

He walked for many days, and cared for the creatures whose homes he had not visited in as many days and nights. As the day drew to an end, still his path did not cross with something new. For every single day he had walked upon the Earth, he had encountered something unfamiliar.

He watched the sun dip below the mountains. Was today the day his knowledge would not grow? Was his work finished? Would he receive new instructions?

It was puzzling, but all these questions reminded him again of that question from long ago. These questions had been heard and would surely be answered.

The stars began appearing in the sky, emerging in the darkness, and sleep began to grow in the man’s thoughts. This too reminded him of that evening. If he sleeps, perhaps he would wake to something wonderful again.

But nothing happens the same way twice.

As the man was falling asleep under the stars, a light emerged. At first he thought it was a star, but this light was not in the heavens, but in the distance. The man got up and shielded his sight from the strange brightness. This was a creature!

The man was excited, but as he approached, the light stopped where it was, and faded. He lowered his arm from his eyes. The creature had its head hung low upon the ground.

“Hello, there!”

The man saw the creature move its ears.

“Are you hurt?” he asked. The creature collapsed where it was on the path.

The man quickly ran to it. As he approached, he could see it was a peculiar creature indeed. One, he had never seen before.

As he came closer still, he sat by the creature’s side. There were sandbags tied to its rump and its hooves. The man  felt anger and concern rise in his chest. What was this suffering?

“Who did this to you, friend?”

“I did, sir,” said the creature.

The man began untying the ropes and vines. The creature’s skin was rubbed raw, its back twisted and arched so it could not move, or walk or stand.

“Even if I could not be the best, I wanted to do my best, and be my best. But I’m tired now and have been looking for rest,” the creature said.

“How long have you been looking for it?”

“I’ve had these bags for two years, sir.”

The man marvelled at this peculiar creature. He had never heard a creature speak as this one did. Though he did not understand immediately, he saw clearly what he could give this creature.

“You sought for rest in these sandbags, but only found slavery. See, I’ve untied them now and the stars shine above us. Now you may rest with me.”

The creature put his head down while the man crushed some leaves and tended to the creature’s wounds. The creature slept soundly, his back relaxing as the man massaged it.

The moon was high in the sky when the man had finished. He lay down next to the creature to sleep.

“What a peculiar creature indeed. You must tell me your story when we wake.”

Dream come true

If the title has you excited, I’d hold your applause and congratulations until the end of this post… it’s probably not what you think.

In my last post, I admitted that my pride had kind of snuck up on me and all of a sudden I was planning my future life and career like I know what’s going to happen, like I know what’s best for me, like I’m in control. I knew I needed to come back to that place of open-handedness with that future.

Open-handedness…? That is, what if my dream job isn’t the thing I’m “supposed” to be doing? Would I be okay with that? If I were honest, no, no I wouldn’t be okay with that. Why does God’s best for us have to be so unimaginable that it’s hard for our rebellious human nature to trust Him?

Well, last night I dreamt that I was in LA, making phone calls, pitching to execs, desperate to make my scripts happen. The unfortunate downside to the dream career that I’m pursuing. Maybe it’s a personality thing, but I’m just not a good verbal communicator. On the page, sure, maybe… but I have to be mentally prepared for a spontaneous presentation. Anyway, I like to think that my passion for the craft is big enough to make that kind of stuff bearable, but today kind of challenged that.

There have been countless theories on dreams and their meanings and interpretations. One of them is that dreams prepare you for real life situations, something like a built-in simulation mechanism. I don’t know if that’s true, but that’s besides the point.

I wake up feeling stressed and shoot my roommate a text about the dream, to which she replies, “it’s prophetic!” I smile, knowing that should make me feel better but it doesn’t.

I walk into my first class of the day, the highlight of my day — Screenwriting. Except, the agenda is — you guessed it — pitching our final projects.

Given the nightmare I held back any and all participation. But as Irony would have it, the entire class called on a classmate and I to pitch. He’s a fairly performative guy and as talented as the best of them, so I figured I’d go first… don’t want to get stuck on the follow-up act.

Needless to say, the pitch was an abysmal failure — I didn’t get to the end of the story, I blanked on what made me love this story and what excites me about it. I even blanked on what actually happens, who the characters are… I knew I wanted to get to the big twist reveals, but didn’t know how to set them up dramatically… I only found solace in the fact that now no one else in class will be nervous about pitching their ideas.

And that is the story of how my nightmare came true.

Thankfully there were no real stakes, and my prof and classmates were so generous and gracious.

In all seriousness, this little incident was an eye-opening reminder of how small I am, how powerless and insignificant I am, that I’m not special, and that I have no reason to boast about any skills, knowledge or talents that I have– that I’ve been given.

As I write to cope with the mortification, I’ve got Ascend the Hill’s Be Thou My Vision blasting on Spotify…

O God be my everything, be my delight, be Jesus, my glory, my soul satisfied.

What a balm to this heart floundering in years of insecurity drudged up to the surface. I’ve still got the adrenaline rush, that fight or flight response, and my body screaming FLIGHT! I want to run away, crawl into bed and hide for the rest of the day, and that’s no exaggeration. What a strange impulse. Have I been fooling myself this whole time? Is this industry actually not for me? Do I turn back while I still can? I thought I’d found my “thing,” do I have to go back to that state of aimlessness?

Some might say, “don’t quit! Nothing was meant to be easy.” Others might say, “do what makes you happy.” While these are true and helpful to some degree, it is still a limited degree.

My identity isn’t in my career. My ambitions may not be what comes to pass. In fact, my ambitions may not be what I actually want. It shouldn’t be where I go for satisfaction.

My vision shouldn’t be on how high I can pull myself up (and anything higher than 0 is a delusion), but on how I can make much of the name of Jesus in all aspects of my life… in this case, giving him praise for this humbling morning.

It is incredibly easier to say “I am nothing apart from Christ” today than it was yesterday. The life He calls us to, a life of holiness, is hard. It hurts. And yet… it’s so sweet to return to Lord and be reminded that the pressure’s not on us to “be all that you can be,” it’s not on us to look all put together, it’s not on us to be the champions of this world, it’s not on us to be our own saviours, it’s not on us to fix ourselves, or anyone else. He already did the work, and we are free to train, and learn and fail.

In a way this whole pitching snafu reminded me of the hidden inspiration for one of the big reveals of the story in the first place: “No longer I, but Christ in me.”

1100

Cakes of Raisin

And the Lord said to me, “Go again, love a woman who is loved by another man and is an adulteress, even as the Lord loves the children of Israel, though they turn to other gods and love cakes of raisins.” (Hosea 3:1)

Some of you have heard the story, “Hosea, Hosea, your wife was such a player.”

The first command that God gives Hosea in the text, is to marry a prostitute, which is difficult enough if you’re hoping for a long term stable marriage. Even so, Hosea obeys because God wants to show the people of Israel how unfaithful they’ve been, and how much He abounds in love and grace. How much more difficult is the second command to keep loving her after she rejects him and pursues a life of shame, dishonor and worthlessness? Truly, love is a choice, decision, promise and commitment before it is a feeling.

Will brought up this cakes of raisin thing this morning… it’s a fun sounding cultural-historical thing, but given th context, it’s safe to assume it involves pagan worship and idolatry.

Cakes of raisin. Entertainment? Career? Future? Image. Status. Money. Pleasure. When they come before God, when they replace our first love, they are despicable. And though we turn to these empty wells, still He pursues us and purchases for us our freedom, restores our dignity by the blood of Christ, and offers us the peace, rest and living water we’ve been searching for: Himself.

I was challenged… I had forgotten that my sin is wicked and offensive in His Holy presence, that apart from Him I can do nothing; I am nothing, and deserve death.

But for the grace of God, we have been redeemed and restored if we are in Christ.

In 1 Samuel, the Israelites go up against the Philistines by their own might, but are defeated and lose the ark of the covenant. The only reason why they got it back, is because God made the Philistines send it back… the Israelites had nothing to do with its restoration, or the plight of the Philistines. We are no different today. We are powerless (less in general, if we’re honest) apart from God.

Something that I’ve been catching myself doing lately, is not worrying about the future, but planning for it. Obsessively. It gives me the illusion of control, that I know the best way for me, that circumstances will obey my every whim — or that God will make it so.

Surely, we have control over our own lives at least? We make our own choices, but we have no say in what actually happens, the consequences of those choices. I don’t know what’s in store tomorrow, I may not last the night, let alone next year, 2021, 2026, 2036…

CS Lewis once remarked, “there are those who say to God, ‘Thy will be done,’ and those to whom God says, ‘Thy will be done.'”

Indeed, pride has reared its ugly head and I am nothing.

Come now, you who say, “€œToday or tomorrow we will go into such and such a town and spend a year there and trade and make a profit”€” yet you do not know what tomorrow will bring. What is your life? For you are a mist that appears for a little time and then vanishes. Instead you ought to say, “€œIf the Lord wills, we will live and do this or that.” As it is, you boast in your arrogance. All such boasting is evil. (James 4:13-16)

 

Father, thank you for your goodness and grace and mercy and steadfast love. Would you teach my heart to come to you always because you are more than enough. Though my heart and flesh may fail, you are my portion forever. You’re all I need, and Lord I need you, every hour I need you. Teach me to be Holy and obey despite imperfect human execution of obedience… Let me renounce my idols and my cakes of raisins. Do not give me up to the desires of my heart, but deliver me from evil. Break my heart from what breaks yours…

1100

Joy and Death

November 1st… the day where we enter the Halloween-Christmas limbo period.

I was walking home just now, and passed two houses, side by side. One had the lights and sparkles, red and green decorations, the works. The only thing missing was a pristine, light fluffy layer of fallen snow.

Their neighbours on the other hand had demons in the trees, skulls and monsters in the yard, smashed pumpkin on the porch, cobwebs on the hedges… Seriously, the cobwebs were everywhere, someone went crazy with it. It almost looked like someone toilet-papered their yard.

One house was ready for joy, the other was clinging to death.

This Sunday, Pastor Jacob preached about the joy of repentance, of leaving our sin behind us and trusting in the Lord. Trusting that the good He has planned for us far outweighs the valley of suffering that we may have to cross to get there. Moreover, when we put our trust in Him, the pressure and the focus is no longer on us. Why– how is that a good thing? Imagine it. Our world stops being about us… we can step off stage and just… enjoy. Laugh, cry, connect, be strung along for the ride of what Christ is doing centre stage.

In Genesis 45, after decades of bottled emotions, Joseph sends his brothers back to get their father Jacob in Canaan, to unite the people of God as a family once again. And he tells them, “do not quarrel on the way.” Do not fear, don’t stress, don’t fight.

Jacob fought his whole life for his inheritance, God’s promise to his grandfather Abraham that nations would come from him. But his 12 sons, the nation of Israel was crumbling before his eyes. His first born slept with his father’s concubine, Simeon and Levi slaughter a whole city, Judah sells Joseph into slavery, Joseph’s mother dies in childbirth to Benjamin…

Is anyone to blame? Maybe. But does it matter? When Joseph sends his brothers back, they’ve all accepted that God can bring beauty from the ashes. There’s no need to point fingers, or to wallow in remorse. What’s done is done. What God’s people meant for evil, God meant for good.

So what is this good?

The good is the fact that it’s November 1st. We don’t have to cling to death anymore, it’s time to get ready for joy. Not only is Christmas time the season for joy, it is the celebration of the Messiah’s arrival, the one who takes away the sin of the world, the one who loosens our white-knuckled grip on death.

Colossians 3 invites us to “put on the new self.” In Christ, getting rid of death is as simple as changing your clothes. Or for the sake of this metaphor, as easy as cleaning and redecorating a front yard, because Christ already did the cleaning 2000 years ago on the cross.

In the same way that snowfall covers the city in pure, sparkling beauty, in the same way that it heralds the season of joy and cheer, let us let go of death and find joy in repentance: “Repent and believe the gospel, for the Kingdom of God is at hand!”

1100

P.S. Oh, and move over Pumpkin Spice Latte… bring on the Peppermint White Hot Chocolates!!

Roller Coaster Week: Blue Jays, Midterms… Wait, It’s Over?

It’s been quite the ride.

I jumped on a bandwagon (LETS GO BLUE JAYS), stayed ahead of a wave (of midterms and assignments)… and now I’m not quite sure what to do on the shore.

For those of you still hanging on, I promise I still have work and assignments to do… just not what some call “hell week.”

ALDS, Game 5, Bautista bat flip… I was hooked. Before that, I couldn’t care less about baseball. Then the game was explained and I marvelled at the amount of strategy involved… it really is a mind game. Followed it through the Championship Series… and I’m still feeling the let down that it didn’t turn into Game 7, let alone a World Series.

At the same time that the ALCS was going… so were midterms and midterm-equivalent-assignments. I was wired in and out of class… Not at all a healthy thing. On top of my usual sleeplessness, I could hardly celebrate finishing one midterm and/or assignment before I had to start thinking of and planning for the next. And when I wasn’t, there were the Jays.

For some the following will be heresy… but maybe for me, it wasn’t such a bad thing that we lost… the spell broke and here I am blinking in the sunlight wondering where the last week and a half went.

These games turned me into something I never thought I would be… a sports fan. Maybe not the super crazy ones, but crazy enough to feel every out like a ball to the gut. Crazy enough to scoff at the opponent team’s despair. Crazy enough to cheer for a team I’d only been with for a week, and study all the terms and the players (alongside my midterms).

This wasn’t me, was it? Since when did I care about a game?

As for midterms… this is the first time where because of the back-to-back nature of my schedule, I basically had to cram every night. I’ve never crammed before, so that was a learning curve in itself! By God’s grace, I still did well… but marks are still coming in. All week, I was stressing over what’s done, what’s next, what’s ahead… just survive until Friday and I’m home free.

Well… it’s Friday. No Jays. No midterms.

I’ve forgotten what it was like to breathe. I’d forgotten what it was like to rest. I’d left peace and joy that surpass all understanding for… fandom — tension and anxiety.

Now that it’s over, it feels like the room was flooding, and just before I ran out of air, someone slammed the valve shut. It’s been a week of so much noise and panic, that the quiet sounds suspicious.

But in the quiet, is a still small voice of graceful intercession.

Heaven and Earth will pass away, but my words will never pass away.

Matthew 24:35

It’s over. Jays, midterms, adrenaline, stress, anxiety. No screaming, pounding fans, no profs and TAs telling me how much time I have left. Just a still small voice.

God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble. Therefore we will not fear though the earth gives way, though the mountains be moved into the heart of the sea, though its waters roar and foam, though the mountains tremble at its swelling. There is a river whose streams make glad the city of God, the holy habitation of the Most High. God is in the midst of her; she shall not be moved; God will help her when morning dawns. The nations rage, the kingdoms totter; he utters his voice, the earth melts. The Lord of hosts is with us the God of Jacob is our fortress. Come, behold the works of the Lord, how he has brought desolations on the earth. He makes wars cease to the end of the earth; he breaks the bow and shatters the spear; he burns the chariots with fire.

“Be still, and know that I am God. I will be exalted among the nations, I will be exalted in the earth!” The Lord of hosts is with us; the God of Jacob is our fortress. 

Psalm 46

A very present help in trouble… infinitely more present and more help than seeing a win for the Jays. Though that would’ve been nice, what would it have really accomplished?

The nations rage… sounds like the jays fans. First a bad call on an inference homer, then a bad call on Revere’s strike.

He utters his voice, the earth melts… can I just let that sink in? And then, He is with usHe is our fortress? It’s such a silly thing to forget. How can we forget that God is on our side? The Jays lost… when did that become such an important thing to me that losing hurts? When did losing Jays glory matter more than forgetting God’s glory?

He makes wars cease to the end of the earth; he breaks the bow and shatters the spear; he burns the chariots with fire. Put down your bats. Put down your gloves. The look on some of the Jays’ faces at the end of the game was… heartbreaking. They’ve traded their life for the game, a career that will be over once they get an injury or turn a bit older than 40. They don’t exactly have a lot of time to make the most of. They fought, they lost, it’s over… but what about us? What pointless war are we fighting? What are we wasting energy on?
Be still, and know that I am God. Stop. Breathe. Listen. Slow down. Look around. The games will end. The deadlines will pass. The grades will come in. He’s already fought for you, for our side. And he’s already won, his voice melts the earth, he disarms the enemy no matter where he goes. There’s no need to play “the bottom of the 9th.”
The past few days, my mind has been racing from one thing to the next, and now that I’m forced to stop… it’s almost like mental whiplash. So it’s time to rest. Time to recover.
Kinda something like this.
1100