For what is our hope or joy or crown of boasting before our Lord Jesus at his coming? Is it not you? For you are our glory and joy.
– 1 Thessalonians 2:19-20 (ESV)
I am beginning to understand something (not that I have attained to it!).
As we grow in faith, there is a necessary shift in our focus that I believe must take place. And it is a joyous shift! It’s a changing of our focus from inward to outward. I have not attained this yet! But I can see it shouting from Paul’s exclamation above, and I can glimpse it now and then beginning to emerge in me.
“For what is our hope or joy or crown . . . is it not you?” Paul loved the people that he discipled and pastored and evangelized. Absolutely loved them. And you can see in his words above what his hope and joy and crown was. It was them. How far Paul had come from the dazed and fearfully joyous ex-persecuter of the church, blindly sitting and fasting with scales on his eyes, to the man here speaking hope and joy to the Christians of Thessalonica.
It’s the subtle moving from “Lord, thank you for saving me”, to “Lord, thank you for saving them!”
I begin to feel it. I received two emails today from past band members that filled me with joy. I see Christ move in my own children and my hope shines brightly. It’s a better feeling than just knowing the hope inside me. It’s knowing that that same hope is inside them. It’s praying that they will live the life more deeply, worship more freely, and love more recklessly than I. It’s akin to the joyous wish of the Green Lady in C.S. Lewis’ masterful Perelandra: to one day fall at the feet of her children, now grown in their love for God far beyond where she had ever gone.
But God, being rich in mercy, because of the great love with which he loved us, even when we were dead in our trespasses, made us alive together with Christ–by grace you have been saved– and raised us up with him and seated us with him in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus, so that in the coming ages he might show the immeasurable riches of his grace in kindness toward us in Christ Jesus. For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, not a result of works, so that no one may boast. For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them.
– Ephesians 2: 4-10 (ESV)
This is in no way a response to or rebuttal of anything said in this post. But all this talk of art and creation and creativity got me thinking.
Do you want to know what the most wonderful work of art is, to me? Now there are many great works of art that I love. Beethoven’s adagio is poignant and sweet, and it makes me bow sometimes. The writings of J.R.R. Tolkien lift me up to the heights. I’m absolutely amazed by great sculptures, beautiful paintings, and expert photography. I sometimes lose my breath when listening to an amazing musician or band (Nickle Creek anyone?).
But there is absolutely nothing that compares, for me, to the workmanship of a life redeemed and changed completely by the Lord. I absolutely love being around people who aren’t afraid to shine. The joy of the redeemed is like sweet wine. The devotion and worship that comes from a pure heart is beautiful. Compassion expressed in action to heal the hurts of others leaves me in awe. The wise interpretation and application of Scriptural truths from an unpretentious soul encourages me no end. The sweet humility of seeing one take the lower seat, unnoticed, humbles me. Mercy in action fills me with hope. Steadfast faith in the midst of tragedy or a dark night of the soul makes me want to stand alongside the faithful one in battle. And, always, I find myself praising Jesus when in the presence of those living the life.
There’s nothing like God’s workmanship: the beautiful work of art that is the redeemed human soul.
Just a quick update: I haven’t been posting a lot on the development of Bloo but I have been busy on it, as time allows. Version 0.18 is almost done, and it represents a ton of enhancements and improvements to the internal workings of Bloo. I hope to release it soon.
The bigger plan: Sometime toward the end of February I hope to take Bloo public domain! This effort will include at least a modicum of documentation, an install program, and other necessities. I will also be starting up a developer’s blog, and asking for help from any object-oriented PHP devs out there who want to feel that cool Bloo vibe.
My ultimate goal? I dunno. I thought recently that if there’s ever a time when a dozen people I don’t know are happily blogging with Bloo I’ll feel like it’s arrived.
Good things are coming. Watch me for the changes . . .
Well, as I related in this post, I was part of a two-man pancake-stacking team today. This was an event held at a local bank that was holding its grand opening celebration.
I’ve decided I’m going to quit my job and just go to bank grand openings! It was fun! First, our pancake-stacking skills won us third place and $400 for the GAP (Graduates and Professionals) class at church! But we also rode an elephant, watched a juggler, ate some pancakes and, later, hotdogs, played on some inflatables, and held a monkey!
I love monkeys! This one was a cute little Capuchin monkey named Abbey. Here she is on my daughter Bethany’s shoulder.