Saturday, April 17, 2010

Eyes open to hope

I love the little moments when God stuns me with an old realization again. I hate how my profession can become no more than words as life's sameness exacts its daily toll from my hands. It is as though I have a bank of passion, which is filled in quiet little ways—conversations with friends that remind me that I am not alone, a morning watching the sun come up behind thick clouds, long deep meditations on the word of God—and drained by nearly every circumstance I face in my days. Not because they are bad, per se, but because they bear so little resemblance to the world that I desire to see.

The weather outside all day has been beautiful. Gray skies have let rain seep down at intervals, soaking the earth in fresh moisture without the tumult that inevitably leads to floods around here. But were this weather to remain, day after day after day, it would soon take a very heavy toll on my spirits. I grew up in one of the sunniest places in the whole United States—with mountains and high blue skies with pillared white clouds. Too many days of rain depresses me, not because I dislike rain (quite the contrary) but because there is an unchangingness to it.

So it is with life. I struggle, not so much with the truly hard things, but with the ordinary things that simply continue on. Passion is sapped so easily by the ordinary toils of each day, while it remains strong and sometimes is even fueled by adversity. Few things, in my admittedly brief experience, so quickly sap the human soul of its vitality as feeling that one is trapped in a meaningless existence, doomed to drag one's limbs forward day after day toward nothing.

Thankfully, God perennially reminds us that it is not nothing toward which we are striving. We are not without hope, even when the skies of our lives remain overcast for years—because we live in the light from his grace having appeared, looking forward to the time when his glory will appear. We have promises that we can rely on, knowing that God does not lie.

Thus, I find more and more that my day to day tasks and chores must be approached eschatologically. When I live my life in sight of heaven, cognizant that the apparent meaninglessness of much of my time is, in fact, pointed toward the great end of knowing God (the very definition of eternal life), I recognize that even those tasks which are hardest to bear do in fact have worth and meaning. When I run the race not looking at the ground beneath my feet, changeless and even, but straining to see the goal that awaits me, I find that those changeless steps each has a purpose, however small. It is when I believe that the purpose of each step is itself that I falter and stumble. No runner finishes a race by thinking of how glorious his next stride will be—he thinks of the prize that awaits at the end for having run well.

So we run with eyes full of hope, and we learn to delight in long days of rain as well as bright days of sun—because we know that both are pointed not toward themselves but toward God our Savior's ultimate appearing to finish what he has begun. We can live lives that are unexciting, mundane, and meaningful. Indeed, that is what most of us are called to do—and we ought to be grateful for days that are unexciting and mundane just as we are for those that are thrilling. The fact that excitement makes it easier to give thanks simply means that it is more important to work at giving thanks when our lives are not exciting.

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