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The Sky is Always Blue

The Sky is Always Blue

I’ve lived in some very polluted cities around the world.

Often times, the sky would be hazy with dust and smog. And even when the air was relatively clear, thick clouds would regularly blanket the entire metropolis.

So when a “blue sky day” occurred, it was something that was celebrated indeed!

After many years of living with clouds, I just came to a realization.

Every day is a blue sky day.

Whether we can see it or not, the sky is always blue.

Sometimes there are clouds in the way, but the truth remains: just beyond them, the most brilliant azure color waits to be acknowledged and enjoyed.

IMG_1751_edited-1Today was a cloudy day. Cotton wool stretched across the entire view from my window, but every once in a while, a small fissure appeared revealing the blue beneath. A reminder that an “overcast” day is simply that: one which is covering the reality, but not one that has replaced it. The daytime sky is never dark; only the clouds that intervene between us and it make it seem so.

Today was a cloudy day in other ways as well. Receiving the news from friends of hardship ahead brought a bit of grey into our world. The light is a little harder to perceive and enjoy. The blessing of God seems a little more subtle and farther removed.

But it’s still there.

No matter how many clouds pile up, nor how long they remain, the sky is always blue. The truth of reality does not change, will not change. The Light of the world never grows dim; it just gets shrouded from our eyes from time to time.

And it’s at those moments that we must yet believe that it is still there.

Sometimes, we’re graced with reminders. Little fissures in the wet blankets of life allow us to peer through, to see beyond our immediate circumstances, calling us back to the truth of what always lies beyond, whether we can see it or not.

 
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Posted by on November 15, 2013 in Life

 

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That’s So Totally (not at all) Random!

That’s So Totally (not at all) Random!

“Just the other day, I randomly bumped into…!”

“I had this totally random thought…!”

“I found that I had a totally random connection to…!”

We use the word ‘random’ often enough. As we observe conversation, relationships, connections we often apply the label ‘random.’

Even scientifically, we discuss the random motion of particles, the generation of random numbers, and the probability of the occurrence of random events.

piAs a mathematician, I’ve thought a bit about randomness.

My conclusion?

“We use that word a lot; I do not think it means what we think it means.”

It seems to me that when we run into a situation that is immeasurably intricate, overwhelming complicated, where the interconnections and relationships are just too complex, we attempt to simplify all of it by calling it random.

Coincidence. Happenstance. Surprise.

Unpredictable, perhaps, but not because things are so purely random: they’re just often too multifaceted, too deep for us to be able to appreciate and handle. Chaos theory, anyone?

I think back to my early days of computer programming. When you needed a random number, the computer asked you for a “random number seed,” a starting number that the computer would then perform some complicated mathematical operations on in order to generate another number, seemingly at random–but truly not so: the relationship of the result to the original random number seed was just too complex for us to grasp. But in the earliest days, if you used the same random number seed, you would get the same “random number” each time.

Who were we fooling?

Instead of being comfortable with complexity, we’ve tried to hide it under this idea. “Well, that was random!” We comment on someone’s remark, or on a sudden malfunction, or on some other surprise event.

Likely, it wasn’t random at all. But we don’t want to stop and consider all the relationships and factors that went into bringing about that occurrence. So we simplify our understanding.

Talking with a group of friends recently, we were discussing the idea of the mysteries of God. There are many things we can know about Him, much that we can say. But there are some things that are not fully explainable, things that we can’t completely describe (I love the word ‘ineffable’). There are some areas where we can take our knowledge and understanding to a certain point, but no further.

For some people, this is frustrating or even unacceptable. Intellectuals (like me) may not be easily satisfied with anything less than exhaustive understanding. We may not like the idea of having to eventually say, “I just don’t know.”

For us, eventually confronting this idea of mystery is a challenge, a spiritual discipline in and of itself.

Interesting: so willing to label the happenings of life as random (content with a lack of understanding), but so resistant to labeling the things of God as a mystery (demanding full understanding).

For the one who looks to science to explain all things, it surprises me to find such contentment with the notion of random.

And for the one who looks to God as the source of all things, it surprises me to find such reluctance to permit a significant degree of mystery.

We as people seem to have caught ourselves between two silly extremes.

We daily admit to ourselves that we cannot understand the depths of everything going on, and yet we make demands of God about why certain things do or don’t happen, how He can possibly be regarded as good, powerful, or just based upon all the evidence we observe.

We contentedly limit science (as we apply the label ‘random’), but we want to fully master God, as we demand full knowledge of Him…all the while disgruntled by the seeming incongruities between God and science.

If we took the fervor that we sometimes apply in trying to crack God’s code, getting into the secret realm behind the curtain to expose Him for who we think He really is–if we took that same fervor and invested ourselves in the conversations, relationships, interactions, and thoughts that we so readily refer to as random, I wonder if we couldn’t enjoy the best of it all: deep awareness of the world we live in and the people we live amongst, all the while acknowledging (which means knowing) a great, powerful, and mysterious God who is watching over us all.

Perhaps these thoughts above strike you as totally random.

I assure you, they’re not.

 
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Posted by on October 6, 2013 in Life

 

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A Necessary Gift

A Necessary Gift

It’s September. The local newspaper was recently encouraging people to book restaurant space now…for Christmas parties! I thought the season always started a bit early in the US, now that it appears right on the heels of Halloween…but apparently, here in the UK, we are well ahead of America in terms of holiday spirit.

The notion of Christmas parties got me thinking about gifts.

All I want for Christmas is...

All I want for Christmas is…

There are all kinds of gifts. There are generous gifts. There are polite gifts. There are thoughtful gifts. There are extravagant gifts. There are surprise gifts. There are expected gifts. There are wished-for gifts. There are etiquette gifts. There are thank-you gifts. There are thinking-of-you gifts. There are returnable gifts. There are “just because” gifts. There are romantic gifts. There are commemorative gifts. There are collector gifts. There are homemade gifts….

There are also necessary gifts.

Most gifts, in some way, are extra, optional; they can be refused, set aside, or forgotten about without much detriment…except perhaps to your relationship to the giver.

But there are some gifts which are vital, requisite even.

The Bible speaks of sleep as a gift (Ps 127:2).

A quick search on Amazon didn’t reveal sleep as an item on anyone’s wishlist. In fact, it doesn’t even look like you can buy sleep on Amazon…or on eBay…or the Home Shopping Network. Even Costco doesn’t seem to stock any sleep.

I’ve realized that, for all our ability to control our environments and our actions, we actually can’t make ourselves rest. There are times when I find myself in excellent circumstances for resting–no obligations on my time, plenty of physical comfort, little stress…and yet, I still cannot seem to rest.

I’ve come across nights where my body is tired, my mind isn’t racing, and yet still I cannot fall asleep.

For all of my skill at managing life, for all of my learned habits to exert control, sleep and rest are something that we cannot actually manufacture for ourselves. We cannot force them. We cannot create them.

They must be given. As a gift.

And they are necessary.

I’m not sure what the etiquette books say, but I expect that asking for a gift is usually considered a cultural no-no. Such a request would likely come across as rude, greedy, selfish, or as implying that your intended giver wasn’t naturally very generous, or thoughtful, or caring.

But I find myself asking for rest, asking for sleep. Because I need them.

The Bible talks about other gifts as well, and God is identified as the giver of good gifts (James 1:17; Matt 7:11). Some gifts are optional, blessings that aren’t actually needed (Ps 127:3).

But others are crucial. Like salvation. His Word. The abiding presence of the Holy Spirit. And faith.

Will God find me rude, demanding, or infantile if I ask for these things?

If He gives them, will I receive them, hang on to them, enjoy them, cherish them? Or will I set them aside, or even try to return them?

What’s my role in the acquisition of a necessary gift?

And what do I do with it once I get it?

And how do I respond to the One who gave it?

 
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Posted by on September 21, 2013 in Life

 

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