Thursday, January 28, 2010

Carrying The Fire On The Road Back To God

“My son, my son,” said Aslan. “I know. Grief is great...Let us be good to one another.” (The Magician’s Nephew)

The world of The Road is an arid ghost town America that pulls up images from I Am Legend. The “good guys” are few and far between, trudging, homeless, through the snow in makeshift clothes. The bad guys are cannibals and thieves, plundering in faithless bands. The protagonists are unnamed, in keeping with the naked heart of the story. But the film is highly visual, and so pointed, that the absence of names is fitting.

When the film The Road opens, we feel as if we are falling. Falling into an unnamed, slate-colored void. We wonder how anything so bleak can be resolved or redeemed; we doubt things could be worse. But as we wait out the penetrating night we begin, almost against reason, to see the faintest splinter of dawn.

The focus of the movie is not the desolate apocalypse or the fate of the planet. Trudging, steadfast, through the nightmarish landscape, we find our very hope for the human spirit; manifested in the love between a Man and his Boy. The Boy trusts his father and clings to him, taking to heart all the Man stands for. The Man loves by protecting the boy and encouraging him to “keep carrying the Fire.”

“The Fire” is a last ember of hope, a determination to not forget “stories of courage and justice” - to be set apart from the roving hordes who have forgotten their humanity. The Fire is an inheritance, it is passed on. The Man teaches his son about it, the Boy, in turn, passes it to the other sojourners when the Man is gone. Someone must be carrying the Fire, or there would be no reason to live, no reason for stories, no hope. The Fire is something inside us, yet beyond us. Possessing the Fire means that there is more than just this moment - more than just “surviving”. There is life. As William Wallace said “All men die, but not all men truly live.” When the world has been stripped to its very basest core, we find a relentless humanity still there, preserved by the Fire. The Man and his Boy may die of cold or starvation, but they will “never eat anybody”. This is true for all who carry the Fire.

“While you have the light, believe in the light, that you may become sons of light.” (Luke 12:36)

What does carrying the Fire mean? Let us then do that. In the case of The Road, the Man and the Boy are set apart by love for one another, conscience, thankfulness, compassion and forgiveness on other travelers, value of good things past and present, appreciation of beauty, sense of duty, hope for something better, selflessness, even grim humor. We know that in another time, the Man would treat his son the same - except that instead of teaching him how to commit suicide if the need arose, he might be coaching him in sports or helping with homework. All good guys carry the Fire, no matter how hungary they are.

Though it’s bleakness is a slap in the face, we may look at The Road as a metaphor for our present condition. We, as sons of the living God, have “the Fire”. We are sons of light and we have a father who will protect us from those who, like Satan, seek to devour us. We are born into sin - into the ashen apocalypse. Yet instead of following the enticement of death as Adam followed Eve, we refuse. Likewise, the Man refused to give up hope when his wife suggested suicide. He ended up saving his Boy. This is like our world - we have already fallen in sin (we are in the apocalypse), but we have a second chance at life because of Jesus and the indwelling of the Holy Spirit. The Man represents our second life, in which we refuse the enticement of death, and press on, though the earth is an ashen wasteland.

In The Road, earth and humanity are on the very brink of existence. Images of God are reduced to whisperings around lonely campfires and decrepit, empty churches. There is a beautiful scene in which the Boy and his weakening father huddle in a ravaged church, seeking refuge from the cold. The only light in the scene filters in through a cross slit in the wall. Such symbolism reminds us that, so long as he is alive, man’s ability to commune with God is not completely snuffed out. God is there for those who carry the Fire, even perhaps working through them to be visible to other sojourners.

In this way, the Fire is a light to the world; even to a world already burned. The Fire is not dormant, not secret. In the movie, the Boy reminds his father of their obligation as “good guys”, persuading him to share food with fellow travelers. They even show compassion on a thief who stole from them. What would the Fire mean if it did not survive in the most unlikely places? This is what makes such a grim film something worth remembering.

But with this hope there is danger, because the Fire illumines the conscience and ignites love. To have compassion means risking one’s own safety. To care about anything yields the grim potential for sacrifice.

“To love at all is to be vulnerable....The only pace outside of Heaven where you can be perfectly safe from all the dangers of love is Hell.” (C.S. Lewis, The Four Loves)

We face these dangers of love as we “are hard-pressed on every side....struck down, but not destroyed - always carrying about in the body the dying of the Lord Jesus, that the life of Jesus may be manifested in our body.” (2 Corinthians 8-10) The mother who sacrifices her career to train her children is passing on the Fire to the coming generation. The father who gives up a promotion to spend more time with his family. The soldier. The martyr.

The Man was made vulnerable by loving the Boy. We too, upon taking up the Fire, are sent “out as lambs among wolves.” This is what sets us apart, that we might become “fragrance of Christ among those who are being saved and among those who are perishing.” (2 Corinthians 2:15) This is the light in the darkness, the pale sunlight eking through the cross on the wall, the tiny prayer of thanks. This is the city on the hill, “the commandment I give to you.” There is more than death, more than this moment ,more than mere survival. There is “life leading to life”. Keep carrying the Fire!

“By this all will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another.”

Monday, January 4, 2010

Ways That Pride Is Exhibited In A Person’s Life:

This is taken from sermon by my pastor. I think we tend to belittle the severity of pride. I know I for one am constantly guilty of the three points listed below.

  1. A wrong perception of where our successes and blessings come from

(i.e. they all come from God)

  1. The inability to listen to advice and teaching
  1. Becoming angry when losing

Pride is always competitive and fed by comparisons. “I am beautiful” becomes “I am more beautiful.”

Pride is the sin that made Satan Satan. Pride smuggles into our spiritual lives. Murder,adultery,fornication are fleshly sins and are sometimes influenced by our human appetites;but Pride is the very essence of who Satan is.

There is one vice of which no man in the world is free; which every one in the world loathes when he sees it in someone else; and of which hardly any people, except Christians, ever imagine that they are guilty themselves....

The essential vice, the utmost evil, is Pride. Unchastity, anger, greed, drunkenness, and all that, are mere flea-bites in comparison: it was through Pride that the devil became the devil: Pride leads to every other vice: it is the complete anti-God state of mind....

As long as you are proud you cannot know God. A proud man is always looking down on things and people: and, of course, as long as you are looking down, you cannot see something that is above you....

The real test of being in the presence of God is that you either forget about yourself altogether or see yourself as a small, dirty object. It is better to forget about yourself altogether.

C. S. Lewis, Mere Christianity

Quoting both Tim Keller and the book Unfashionable by Tullian Tchividjian, my pastor said that two things we need if we wish to be humble when approaching the world,politics,and culture are TEARS and SERVICE. With these traits we will be sad people go against what we believe,but not bitter and angry. After all, we are called to love. Not because of who we are,but because of who loved us first.

“A humble person will be a lion toward a man's conscience but a lamb toward his person.” ~ Jonathan Edwards.

Thursday, September 24, 2009

Where to Live

I have come to realize that one of the most important things we can do on this earth (and when you think about it,we're really capable of very little) is to simply live in the moment. It is the only allotment of time we can do anything about. It is our fleeting second (literally) of opportunity. The past is good too-the past is the only part of our stories that we can see right now. William Young said in The Shack "much can be remembered and learned by looking back,but only for a visit,not an extended stay."
The present is the point at which time touches eternity (C.S. Lewis said that,not me). This seems to me to be an admonition against both laziness and worrying. We cannot change the the past obviously and the only thing we can really do about the future is pray. And we should pray-guess when-today!
The present moment is the only time we are given deciding power (and that's a relief-think of who would do what with their One Rings) over. We do have choices and freedom,but only if our god is God and not worries and past shadows and ambitions and lusts and fears.
Go live today my friends! And since I just have to end with a Gandalf quote,
"All we have to decide is what to do with the time that is given to us."
P.S. "Happy work is best done by the man who takes his long-term plans somewhat lightly and works from moment to moment 'as to the Lord'. It is our daily bread that we encouraged to ask for. The present is the only time in which any duty can be done or any grace received." ~Lewis,The Weight of Glory

Thursday, July 2, 2009

“I believe in Christianity

as I believe that the Sun has risen,

not only because I see it,

but because by it I see 



-C.S. Lewis

Wednesday, July 1, 2009

Butterflies in Prison-a book review

Tortured For Christ is the story of Richard Wurmbrand's time spent in Communist prisons for proclaiming Jesus. But I do not think he would call it his story;rather it is the story of all the people who have been called criminals because they could not stop praising God. Wurmbrand spent fourteen years in prison,and he went on to start The Voice of the Martyrs.
Tortured For Christ is very short,written with a humility that far outweighs the horror and violence and hate to which its pages bear witness. And somehow,amid the blood and tears, a reason for it all is glimpsed. I do not think we can ever fully understand why such atrocities happen here on earth;but if we listen I think we can understand that one day we will understand. That is faith-the evidence of things not seen. As Wurmbrand says near the end of his book "The sufferings that God sends us only strengthen us more and more in the faith in Him."
Read this book if you want to know more about that faith and the people who lived in it when all other strengths and comforts vanished.
"Christians in prison danced for joy. How could they be so joyful under such tragic conditions?...It was because they had not seen only the sufferings. They had also seen the Savior. For the first time a few ugly worms-caterpillars that creep on leaves-understood that,after this miserable existence,there comes life as a beautiful,multicolored butterfly,able to flit from flower to flower. This happiness was ours too."
Richard Wurmbrand,Tortured For Christ

How does it feel to be a worm? Who would choose such a title to proclaim as his own? I guess a caterpillar wouldn't want to be a caterpillar either except for its hope to become a butterfly. But a caterpillar has no knowledge of such things. Christ has given us both the hope to be a butterfly and the knowledge that we may become one. In fact,we even have the choice to become a butterfly or remain a worm forever. But who would not love to be a butterfly?

Sunday, June 28, 2009

When you cry out,as a whitened desert pleas for rain

And you fear because of your wilting life,

He shall replenish you and make you fruitful.

When your skin is stretched out

Like ashen canvas over thirsty bones

He shall revive you and make you flourish.

Like a youthful sapling,

As a hearty oak you shall rise up

And He shall crown your head with bright leaves.

Crowns of splendor in the spring

And in the winter,warm garments.

With king’s rainment and the bread of angels

He shall sustain you

You will lead the forest in singing,

With voices of exuberance 

You shall sing.

You shall unwrap your garments,

Your precious rainment

And cast off your bounteous crowns

The first fruits of your glittering harvest

You shall take them off before your King

And offer them at His feet

Then the banner of Goodness and Truth shall unfurl

In the new-beckoned day,

In the brilliant sky.

The hills will waver in jubilation

And the creatures of the woods will clap their hands.

The ravines shall be overcome because of the abundant streams

Their loud waters shall be like music,

The silver waves like cymbals.

The wild horses will dance

And the storm of their hooves will be like drums.

The good things of the older days shall live anew

In the greatness of things to come 

And you shall never thirst again.