Sunday, February 10, 2008

Shadow Stories

The sermon today was from Hebrews 7 and 8, which say that the tabernacle and the sacrificial system and the law and the old covenant were but a shadow and a copy of what is real. To explain to us what we cannot see, to reveal our hidden hearts and unveil the loftiest and most invisible sanctuary of heaven, God painted us a picture. He sang us a song. He wafted incense and let us watch the blood drain from innocent lambs.

This is the God who speaks our language. He teaches us in human terms.

I spent all my high school years trying confusedly to prove that art and beauty were necessary. I needed them to be necessary, because they were the only things that enabled me to make sense of life and they were the only things that held out the promise of something better. In fact, I went to college in the vain hope that there I would find the final proof, the answers to my questions.

But I lost those old lovely dreams--partly for the good reason that they were my idols. I didn't have a real god, so I had to worship those. The path I followed when all those gods tumbled down is a story in itself. My point here is to say that when, out of the nothingness, God spoke, I started over with only Him. But He, I soon learned, also contained those other things.

I am beauty, He said, as I watched the Atlantic Ocean touch the rocks by the Bar Harbor Shore Path last June. I am truth, He's been insisting, as I revel in the hard clarity of reality: renewed health, the ability to wash dishes, the draining challenges of family life, the ever unknown future. I tell stories--that's what I heard today, and it elated me. I feel like I've been handed back something I thought I'd never see again, and now I know the true value of it.


Motokeb said...

Always glad when one of my friends shares good news, and all the more so when that good news touches all of us. Just wanted to let you know I read this and gave God thanks. Those are encouraging words, thank you for sharing.

john said...

I've been frantically trying to organize a mass of tangled thoughts lately that touches on what you've expressed. I think I understand it better, having read your post.

C.S. Lewis had a similar idea which he expressed very succinctly in his essay, Myth Became Fact. It is the core of his personal apologetic, I think. I believe Lewis was converted primarily because he discovered that God tells stories...and then makes them come true.

A little more tangentially, you might skim Leslie Newbigin's book, Foolishness to the Greeks: The Gospel and Western Culture. He argues that a successful missionary encounter with a foreign culture must recognize and imitate what Saul experienced on the Damascus Road: a voice in the Hebrew language--his native tongue. God does indeed teach us in human terms. That is the essence of the mystery we call the Incarnation.

Thank you for the insight!

AvocadoDiva said...'re always stealing my thoughts that I can't express verbally. THANK YOU. :-) Once again God's got us on parallel tracks and it's been a joy learning through what you're learning from Him.

sarah said...

God is truth! God is beauty! Amen! That is precisely the joy I found on my path through the valley of the shadow as well.