Three weeks before I wrote “Faith,” the most recent post here on Common Life, Jennifer and I saw an ultrasound room’s light flick on, the machine shut down, and the picture you see above land in our hands. A week after I wrote “Faith,” we returned to the same room, the light was kept off for several minutes, and no picture was printed from that day.
Faith is confidence in the ability of some external power, namely God, to bend all things toward some better end than what naturally occurs. It is openness to—and ultimately, dependence upon—the ways and wisdom of God as a new power for daily living. It is the vital connection to life and reality itself while all things within and without would drift toward wreckage and ruin.
My confession is that Jesus is the one who satisfies faith as I described it. I confess that the purpose of life is not to forestall death, prolong life, pursue pleasure, or find myself, as it were. In every effort to find myself, I have found myself more mystified and alone, more helpless and undone. I have needed some trustworthy word from an outside source to find me under the heap of ill-fitting clothes I’ve worn. I have needed a new source of power for daily living and the healing of relationships. Even suffering and loss and terrible disappointment can push me toward the satisfaction of my faith, which is a tree rooted in my chest somewhere safe from storm and fire. Because Jesus is Lord over all such forces, in the great and terrible and awesome wisdom of God, they are at times permitted to pass into our lives for the express purpose of getting us closer to the unending and overflowing life that is accessed in Jesus. They are given just enough power to be rendered powerless in achieving their own intended ends. Faith in Jesus is the great subversive conspiracy against the march of sin and death. This is a mystery I don’t claim to fully understand, but I have lived with Jesus long enough to trust Him.
I have faith that Jesus does such things better than all rivals, and that Jesus alone responds to this universal problem with the healing we seek. Amen.
Today, we went to settlement with the buyers of our 2,000 square foot home in suburban Newark. Nearly two years and one birth later, we’re no longer homeowners. The three of us (plus Quinn the cat-pup) are staying with Mom while we wait to see if a two bedroom apartment in Wilmington will be available for us by May. There is no grand sacrifice or history making move happening here. Pray for us, even still, that our rather significant downsizing would create better things within our home than space and stuff to fill that space ever could. Pray that we finally, humbly, contritely take the ground level command to love our neighbor more seriously. We have not historically been invested, intentional neighbors with those around us. May this change come about quietly and thoroughly and as truly as roots spread out beneath sight but not without great effect. We don’t want to make this move with self congratulatory fanfare or remarks about sacrifice. A challenge? Yes, but a small obedience before our very good and patient Shepherd. He waits all day and night to be gracious to some dim sheep who get distracted by a host of things every minute.
But here I’ll say it–we want to lean into the stride of our Shepherd. We desire discipline, and the matchless joy of imitating Christ without any need of validation from others or even immediate fruit. We want the long walk of devotion, even simple and seemingly insignificant devotion. We want hidden, holy motivations that will be just as satisfied if no one but God sees the offering. I am daily thankful that God is prompting this simple, clear, willed decision to move into the city for a year of prayer and visioning in community with others.
Before us is the open door. We know that, in some distant day, we will look back on this time as one when a simple obedience was all that was needed from us. I cannot escape the feeling that God is meeting us at the threshold with gifts and a welcome too irresistible to refuse.
Jennifer and I begin 2017 with a year old daughter growing up strong and loved, a forthcoming move to the small-ish/big-ish city of Wilmington this spring, and more creative energy than we’ve known before. Times of plenty. Times of contentment. Times of blessing. It’s not always like this, but the command to “rejoice in hope, give thanks in all circumstances, be constant in prayer” is our straight-as-an-arrow directive in all seasons. God, make us capable of this.
On my end, I’m writing and playing more frequently as Levi Dylan & The Former Ruins. Here are links, should you seek them, to music/social media pages:
Bandcamp | formerruins.bandcamp.com
Noisetrade | noisetrade.com/formerruins
Facebook | fb.com/formerruins
In this more informal setting, I thought I’d share my working bio, if that’s a fitting description. It’s a snapshot, a journal entry, a monument stone. May it edify yeh.
all we got is this gold record of your memory
and we play it back again and again and again
and it’s some strange mercy, maybe something holy, how all our noise gets honey-toned
when we skip to the end and reverb like love has covered a multitude of sins
when we skip to the end