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STEPPING OUT FOR CHRIST
A WALK ALONG THE BEACH
A TALK WITHIN THE BREACH
It is marvellous being beside the sea-side, with the blues of sky and ocean, darker, greener, lighter, dreamy, declarative, communing with wisps of clouds, delighting in low cumulus, with the waters rippling and surging, at their taste, here and there, now and then, or the breakers rolling with the constancy of their occasions, when the time is right, the sand sheening with pleasure while the waters rest from their journeyings at the verge, only to return to their beloved bosom.
That is a delight: walking in the liberties of peace, the energies of
expansiveness of planes and plateaus of light and colour, intermingling without
compression or restraint, the pleasant breakers roaring with relish in a
compass large enough to do no damage, like liberated artists, minus expense,
and the gulls flicking their wings by the spray.
I slept with the sheer exuberance of it all, like a dream. And as I walked, the peace was interrupted. Who was this ?
THE FINE MAN
It was a fine man, smiling broadly and good-natured looking. As we talked, I found he was an ecumenicist. He had flung caution to the winds in his church connections, did not know where he was really going, but was being borne along like a surfer in the surf too large, but not wanting to quit, for his friends and companions were still there. He had a terror of the future, like someone whose board had suddenly been lifted up by a combination of waves, surging tempestuous, to heights as the top of the only visible support reared, watching the curve to disaster break into many pieces through rollicking cross currents, not knowing how he would continue another hour, or minute!
He had lost his caution, and did not know where to find it. No one, where his church now stood, seemed to have any notion of the matter at all, and none had any at all to lend him. He had flung caution to the winds like a good Republican voting with reality in absentia, but not wanting the Monarchy either. Where to go ? What to do ? Caution being gone, he simply went on.
Looking for an ideal church 'solution', as if religion were all a matter of finding a solvent for all churches to make something or other, whatever it would be when the matter was done, some liquor or other; and hoping as he went, hoping and searching, as though perhaps the beach, the uniform looking seas (taking it very much at large!) and the sand might inspire him.
The phantom flotilla into which we seem rather often to be casting the eye (cf. Ch.1, p. 13), as to it, he was afraid to embark with it any more. It was clearly a pirate parade, he felt, and since he could NOT find his caution, he did not trust himself to that any more. After all, the way to cleanse the pirate from the place is not to join him in his stealing of the word of God, taking it under 'church control', without liberty so to do; that too is breaking the law, and you merely add to the 'problem' (Jeremiah 23:16,23-32). It is easy to do; but quite fatal.
He shared his thoughts with me. God, I said, is not the lowest common denominator; for there is nothing low or communally captured about Him. He is the One who takes control; and when in His INFINITE WISDOM He speaks, it is well for others to be COMPLETELY still with their tongues. Peter doubtless would have much to say on that, having had a personal experience in the matter, that was, to say the least, quite sharp (Matthew -23). In fact, HE WAS REMINDED that it was NOT a matter of lording it over the Lord (Luke ), but of being led by the Lord; and as to that, it is not an unholy synthesis, for who would want sin to have ANY part in life, who loves liberty and the Lord!
No, as He told Peter, "If any man will come after Me, let him deny himself and take up his cross, and follow Me" - Matthew 16:24. Luke gives more from the Lord on this theme, so that you have to forsake ALL that you have, and one of the chief things is that little tongue which prods the Lord with words HE did not speak.
But you have to live ...! he said.
HIS life! was my reply.
The lowest common denominator of human will and wit and desire, I continued, is NOT God. It is a queasy, greasy, grasping, gullible, confused, never agreeing morass, at times a tornado, then a tempest of bits flung savagely about, then a turgid brew, then a scalding torrent of hot airs, enveloping and destroying like those whirling tornadoes over the American ... West ? they seem to be sailing in many directions now, perhaps as a warning about the tornadoes of words from the World Council of Churches, and of agreements with Rome, so that the place is far from the Protestant emphasis of its beginnings, the Biblical stresses of its past, and even in what had once been something like bastions of Biblical purity, now is found the wreckage of speaking their own words, and so joining into ever new fashions and fashionings of 'Christianity', as if bits of tin and brick were being hurled about the ecclesiastical campus, ready to impale anyone foolish enough to live where these deals, wheelings and dealings go on.
And where they do not, I continued inexorably, then inside the churches there is such a lusting and a laxity, in many cases, as if there is no rest except in talking to God about what He says, instead of reading what He has said. Even creation itself has been impugned in one of my former churches, and allowed to stand in this state for years.
Where is the former zeal ? Or love of truth ? Is it not more and more a matter of demographic ecclesiasticism, as if it were MacDonalds or Myers or some other series of stores, studying consumer desire, rather than a body committed to expression of what God has said, and done, and requires, and will do for mankind - as many as come to the Lord Jesus Christ.
That is what a church should be doing, as a light bearer, a candlestick, that HIS light should shine, while He burns within with illumination, He who who is "the light of the world" (John 8:12) - and again, "For judgment I have come into this world, that they do not see, mighrt see; and that they who see, might be made blind, "as He once told the blind man whom He had healed (John 9:39-41)). You see, He explained that: the people who thought they had it all without Him, were blind and being smugly self-satisfied, had not sense of need, and hence would not come, as the blind man did, to receive their sight. Self-satisfaction is very unsatisfactory when the self is not satisfactory: and who but God, is !
All this I said. But he looked bewildered.
If, he queried, there is so much trouble, where is the comfort of religion ?
Comfort, I retorted, like the kingdom of heaven, is within you. You should be bulging and overflowing with it, from the presence of the Lord, and be willing to take yourself to any body, however small or poor, which follows the word of the Lord. It did not begin yesterday.
You can check all things by
the word of God (Matthew 4:4, I Thessalonians ), I challenged.
The Protestant Confessions can give you some guidance; but only as a stimulus. The word of God rules. It is so simple, and in all essentials, so clear even to babes, so long as they are willing to do the will of God (John 7:17); for as the Saviour Himself indicated, He who wills to do the will of God, he will know the doctrine that Christ spoke, whether it is of God or not. It was not a question of difficulty; it was one of believing. EITHER HE was or was not the ONE whom He claimed to be, the Messiah so long predicted; and either He did or did not do the amazing and identifying works He had to do, in the setting and at the date prescribed (cf. Matthew 11:4-5, SMR pp. 886ff.).
If He was, pursuing my theme, I continued, then He had to be BELIEVED in what He said on the Cross, on the resurrection, on the source of His coming, on His status as deity, on His capacities in answering prayer, on the inviolability of the word of God (Matthew 5:17ff.), on the necessity of keeping it (loc.cit. and Matthew 28:19ff.), on the necessity of wisdom, living by EVERY WORD which proceeds out of the mouth of God (Matthew 4:4), and of this fact...
Which ? he enquired, growing interested.
This, I echoed: that therefore those words are THERE as dictated to man, are available; and that it is a matter open to man TO DO SO. We are all sinners, I went on, it is not a question of earning your salvation; but if they be saved, like a good tree with its fruit following, these things follow those who believe. But faith, I cried, where is your faith ? You seem to be acting as if it all depended on you!
How then has Christ come for you, if you have not come in heart and conscience, heart and spirit, in repentance and faith, to Him!
If only it were so simple ! he cried.
It was so heartening at such a moment to reflect that the gospel is so simple children of 3 or 4 have been known to follow it; and when one comes home to the Lord, then one has Him to teach all about it (I John 2:27). He seemed now, for the moment, so in earnest that it was like a refreshing breeze, touching the cheeks in mid-Summer as the sea pursued its splendid grandeurs.
Simple! I replied. It is only because you are bogged in the ditch of dither and slither through driving in forbidden paths, that you find it so complicated. Call on the Lord and get out!
At that, he baulked.
Faith, he said, is a funny thing. I never seem to be able to manipulate it. With humans, I can address them fairly well, and rarely fail to get my way in an ecumenical conference; but when it comes to God, it is so hard to make Him listen!
How do you interpret the word of God ? he asked.
By this time, one knew he in that strange and often subtle variation in the oceans of the mind, the thoughts of the heart, he was not in earnest in more, and so the reply had to be vigorous.
By reading it in its context and comparing it with all other similar things, and using the comprehension and intelligence God has given you, if you are His, to deal with such things (I John ). This I replied.
What then does He mean when He says as in John 6, that you get eternal life through eating His flesh. I never heard anything so butchery - butcher's shop theology they call it...
Wait! I cried. The wind seemed to be growing a little excited and the nearby breakers more frothy.
Do you sincerely mean to tell me that your trouble is a pitiful thing, a difficulty, when you can talk of the word of God as if you were God and He were some idle idiot of a dreaming school child, at war with authority and merely setting fire to the place ?
It means that the lamb which was the Passover Lamb, the blood of which had to be put on the door of each Hebrew dwelling, in the Exodus deliverance from the oppressive Pharaoh, had to be eaten then; for as Moses told them, the blood by its life makes a covering (Leviticus 17:11), an atonement. Christ, the Lamb of God as John the Baptist announced (John ), was in this sense to be eaten; but in the chapter concerned (John 6), He went on explicitly to state that His words were Spirit and Life, and ask them what would they do if He went back to heaven!
It is not necessary to be a genius to see that this would mean that it was not cannibalism He had in mind, even if any sane person thought that it could have been. The body wouldn't go very far! Nor can you gnaw what is in heaven. You cannot eat what is spirit. So it meant that as the blood of the lamb as the token of life spilt in your behalf, covered, so the blood of Christ would cover; and as you should surely know, Hebrews 6-10 is FULL of explanation in the utmost detail. ARE YOU COVERED by that blood ? IS IT on the door of your heart by faith ? DO YOU TAKE the Christ as your salvation, and ARE YOU WILLING to have Him as Lord ?
Well, he said, I try to live a good life; and as to your theology...
My theology! I interrupted. I did not invent the Bible, or the words, Without the shedding of blood there is no remission (Hebrews -15,22), or these, that we are redeemed through the blood of the Lamb (Ephesians 1:7, Revelation 5:9, Matthew )...
But redeemed! he interrupted back in return (fair enough). I cannot be redeemed. That is a puny little child thing. Man was made to strive and conquer, and if we cannot influence our destiny by our own contribution, where is the image of God in us then! Well ?
The image of God ? You seem mistaken, my friend, I replied. There was a beautiful sports car, and the young man who placed it not so delicately some distance up a lamp post, being drunk and later delirious, wanted his car back, and to drive at once to Sydney. I am sick of your hospital, he shouted, and it is in fact your hospital which makes me sick. I am a MAN, and am not interested in all your so-called healing, and your fancy doctors and expensive drugs.
Let me complete my report of this case.
There was a pause, and then the case in mind, I continued.
Well, we took him (since he was becoming close to a mental case and it seemed best to humour him a little, in the hope that the sight of reality might tame his haughty spirit): we drove him to the lamp-post, and showed him the picture of his car, and the insurance people's words about drunken driving and the like, and he simply fainted. YOUR IMAGE OF GOD IS LIKE THAT SPORTS CAR. It needs restoration and Christ is your only insurance; and because of sin, you do not at all DESERVE that, but He has paid in advance for ALL WHO WILL COME (Romans 8:32, Isaiah 53:5-6 - those whose sins are laid on Him are those who are healed). If you come, you are covered. He knows. You don't; but all you need to know is that you have to repent of your stout words against the Great Physician...
Stop! he glared. Yes the words seemed almost to come from the eyes.
And, to reflect on that matter: I am afraid, the 'I's' have it, if you will permit the spelling change. After all, it is all about change; and this young man on the beach simply would not change.
went off at a canter, as if possessed, which, poor man, perhaps he was. If he
had stayed, I should have told him that being in the image of God has this
little divergence from being God, an infinite one. It is worth reflecting on,
THE GROSS DEFICIENCY
If you are in His image, you do not take over, or become God. For the first point, you are not infinite; for the second, you are not sinless; for the third; you are not without beginning; and for the fourth, you deserve judgment, and if you do not believe in Him and take Him without all this thought control and - to be fair - theologising in the PLACE of His word, then you will surely die in your sins (John 8:21, 12:48-50), and worse than that, one cannot imagine.
is not, I thought as my eyes surveyed the unspeakably beautiful aspect of the
joyous ocean, the flinging sprays, the stinging salt, the luminous paths in the
wake of spent waves: it is not that they cannot understand His words, but that
they will not, because they will take them ONLY if they conform to their press
image of religion, or their personal idol. How true that if people are willing
to do His will, and so BELIEVE that Christ is the one as the facts attest, they
will know the doctrine which He speaks, whether it be of God or not (John
THE YOUNG LADY
At that point, a young lady came along. She was very frank.
You know I was listening to that conversation, in parts, she said. You did not notice because you were absorbed in the scene and the setting. Poor Frank, she reflected, he is so dithery. But really, I am at most the meetings with him, and I do not think we can just take the Bible as it is ....
I admit it, though, she added with a touch of that young candour which can be so attractive, almost reflecting something of the creation in the image of God which though oppressed with sin, is not sent away as if it never were.
What do you admit, then ? was my response to her lilting voice and friendly look.
It is true, she paused; and then went on. It is true that we may have forgotten how to let the words of God speak. You see, many of us are so used to talking and arguing and disposing of things by our mouths, that we LOVE to INJECT meaning in what we read, whether or not it is of God. Without that, to be frank, we feel lost, flat, almost inhuman, she revealed. I too am rather troubled today, like those winds which seem to criss-cross the ocean out there, she said, pointing, as if they were tossed this way and that, unable to resolve some issue.
In fact, I responded, it is precisely this uncalled for offence of acting as God's mouth that makes you that way. Spending time on what you can't do can be very degrading. Spending it on what you should not do, is worse. Spending it on what you should know better than dream of trying to do, is worse yet. Being an impostor in the presence of God is worse still. How deep to you want to go ?
Well, are you a Christian ?
That is a hard one; I try to be.
Is Christ your Lord and Saviour; is He the peace from yours sins, are you the payee of His forgiving pardon, the ransomed by His sacrificial ...
Oh no! Never that. I try to agree with Him, and am sure He meant to help. But if we do not help ourselves, who else will!
If you insist on helping yourself in this matter of being a Christian or not, or redemption, of pardon, of being accepted as a child of God through Him, then indeed, you are all but right, who will! That reply I left with her for a few moments, while a little boat bobbed up and down, fishing a little way out. Her eyes followed it, as if she were meditating on its very littleness, the vast solemnities of the ocean depths, and on her own thoughts.
Try that and there is NO HELP, I continued. God WILL NOT have you on that ground (Ephesians 2:1-10). He will not have any boasting of any one having any part in the perfect work of redemption by the One who, without sin, COULD and DID pay for those who are His! It is, as Paul says (Romans 3) excluded. The propitiation is through His blood, not through your deeds (Romans 3:27ff.).
Then I guess I shall have to go on trying ...
To do what is defined by deity to be impossible.
All things with God are possible...she crusaded.
WITH God, but not against Him, I corrected. If you do not abide in His words, you are ready to be cast out (John 15); but if you DO, and His words abide in you, then you can ask what you will, and His answer is near.
I do not WANT to live like that. Let's cut it, baby.
She stormed off, just as a gust of cross-flow in the aerial strivings came like a tempest, and she disappeared but ... then, I saw them, children.
Perhaps, I mused, these
will STEP OUT FOR CHRIST, out of whatever ecumenical ... but
children ? Are they in all this ? Yes, by their parents, though some will let them free if you wish it. Then it hit me: parents controlling children into forbidden pathways far from God, and it seemed to remind me of the Old Testament Kings in whose reigns children were physically and sickeningly sacrificed to idols, like the burning brazen arms of some Moloch, in the hope of better things for those left. Sacrifice! People are always at it, throwing away the day in the darkness, the mind bringing in the blackness while the sun is still shining. What penalty can meet this! I thought. Heaven help...
But just then, one of the children spoke to me. See my brother! he exclaimed. He is one of those tough 'teens. Talk to him.
Why do you say that ? came my query.
Oh, anyone can see your
talking about Christian things, the youngster proceeded. You should have heard
that guy you spoke to earlier as you wandered up and down the beach. He was
almost raving as he past us, something about Bible bashing bathing
beauties ... Are you a Christian
Yes, lad, I am; are you ?
Yes, he said. We have been studying the Bible quietly without any fuss, and find it quite easy to understand in the gospels where we started, and now I am doing a correspondence course...
Correspondence ? Why, do you not have a church ?
Well, yes and no, he replied. I go there sometimes, when I have to, when my mum and dad insist, but more boring rigmaroles about committees and what this or that body or group or council has found, and what the minister thinks and so on, I could not imagine. They seem mere talk boxes. When it comes to God, for me it is so simple. He made it, or it wouldn't be there; nothing else or lesser could. He made us, the greatest of tasks. We messed it, the stupidest of actions. He tossed in the answer, the greatest of simplicities in practice for us, but deep past all understanding in wonder, in love letting Christ take it for us. I took Him, by His lovingkindness awakened, and that is that. I love God, do you ?
Yes, I do my companion in Christ, I said. Who better ? Not a speck of sin, and not a touch of selfishness, and such a majesty and goodness and such reliability...
Talk to my brother, he said. He needs it right now.
As I was turning, I saw an amazing sight. This boy - about 14 - and his friends, almost all of them, suddenly began rising into the air, and in a few moments I saw them distantly sitting amid the clouds of wonder and light.
What are you doing ? I called up to them.
they heard: we are sitting in heavenly places they said (Ephesians 2:6). We are
children of the dawn, and every evening about this time, as children of rest,
we go up and survey the scene in Christ from above, in spiritual places, and
every morning at the dawning, with the light we come back, bathed in the beauty
of His holiness. Then we can live as people who understand. But look! my
His brother however had already seen me. He dashed into the sea with his friends. Wait! I called. I heard some of that, he said. Oh big sinner man am I ?
You need courage and faith, I said. Courage to take up your cross, and faith to find His pardon from His. Oh! courage, he shouted with the others. We can't find it. Where is it ? Courage is under this breaker! he spluttered: come, duck under with me, and Faith, it is on that rock; but it's too slippery!
When they had thoroughly enjoyed their impudences, I was still there. Well, what do you want ? he asked.
Did you hear then your brother asking me to talk to you ?
Oh nipper! he is SO VERY religious.
And you - you are young, but days pass and life sits in judgment.
Oh quit that. Oh maybe I drink a bit, it releases the inhibitions, said our glowering 17 or so year old. And sex, well who would be without that ?
Oh, perhaps some of the AIDS victims, I said; and some who married the wrong person because of it.
Really ? I don't plan to be married. It is too tying.
Is that how you plan to show love to the mother of children, perhaps ?
Love ? Who wants that. That is for kids.
Well, when you grow up, the whole thing is about me, my thrill, my violence when I feel so inclined, my government grant for this and that, and my thoughts about whatever I want to think about, though to tell you the truth, it is mainly about my will and my ways and how I can screw out of things enough for my own personal satisfaction. Everyone I know is like that.
Do you know me ?
Then I am not like that. I can think of nothing so idiotic ...
Cool it baby!
... as to make yourself the centre. Is the universe centred in you...
No but I take as much of the centre stage as I can, and believe me, it is good enough for go at the present time. I'll settle for what I am getting by with.
It's all about pleasure and satisfaction and thus self-esteem, and me, well, I am in my own skin, aren't I ?
Undoubtedly. So is a car.
But it is still to be driven on the left side of the road if it values its
It is not all about ME, or it would not be a me too much longer.
I take care.
Of what ?
Listen buddy, YOU take care. I've had about enough of this. Quit it! You've done what little brother asked, haven't you ?
I have a big brother.
Have you ? HE must be old!
It is the Son of God who died for sinners to set them free from the hypnosis of grasping and the lure of little things, in case, irresponsible with the greatest equipment ever to appear on earth, the form of a man, they should face the death penalty at the end; except this death doesn't die quietly, it continues with the scorching rebuke of everlasting contempt. In fact...
A pause seemed necessary. His eyes were a strange mixture of glowing and glowering, as if each side of him strove for victory, and he was in mixed waters, like the entrance to Port Phillip Bay in Melbourne, very choppy. In a little, I continued.
DO YOU like people wrapped up like rats in the skins of themselves, as if neither this world nor their parents nor their country nor their food nor drink, nor systems nor mind were accountable to ANYTHING but what serves SELF NOW!
Frankly, his reply came with a slight smile, to be honest, I give you that, they're rats. I know enough of them. You can't trust them as far as you can throw them, and with some of this type, that is not far.
We seemed to enter a simple dialogue stage, so I shall report this without comment for a little. I proceeded.
So is it not time to find WHO made you, WHAT He wants, WHERE your place is and HOW you can serve ?
Serve ? What's that ?
Well, did you make yourself ? I think not. Did you fashion your mind ? I do not think so. Are you the master of the universe ? I had not noticed ...
But they say it all came from nothing. I dunno.
Nothing is what lacks all characteristics, all future - or simply, it would be something with a future, and as a former teacher I can tell you, many children have that, and it is good to find those who have. From it, therefore, by definition, NOTHING can and DOES come. You are not that. So try again.
Right ho! Suppose I come from God, what then ?
Then you should see that you go to Him rather than the garbage. You have only a short time.
Short ? It is for ever and ....
For perhaps days, months or years, the body declines, the mind perhaps weakens, the disease enters and then you say, Oh what was that about where I came from and the One to whom...
I suppose you are right. But where do you find Him ?
At once I sketched the life of Christ, the absence of all competition, the presence of the predictions of His coming, the necessity that the God who needs nothing and made all should not without speech and presentation, be allowing death and horror to wreck His creations, or to invade His property, as if injustice and lies were His trade, when truth is merely what He says and justice is putting everything where it belongs, not where it does not. After all, I insisted, HE is the source of the definition of what belongs where, and so it belongs to Him, and where He deputes... for servicing.
But how do you know HE isn't selfish ?
IF He were, then it would mean that HE wanted something out of His creation, for self, and not according to what it was, He wanted the Mafia-type squeeze; but does He ? If He NEEDED it, He would not and could not be God! He would be part of a system which incited Him to need. In fact, all system is His contrivance, and His need is excluded since His power is altogether. IF EVER He had need, then at that point He could not be God.
As to wanting to SQUEEZE without actually NEEDING to do so, to take advantage of His creation for a whim, a caprice, a naked and erratic DESIRE, that would mean that in Him were things not satisfied, and THAT would require Him to have an INTERNAL insufficiency, which again puts Him in a system He responds to with need, and THAT is not the One on whom everything depends, from which it has all come: since that means the One concerned would be CONTAINED in a system NOT made by Him. It is of God, however, that we are speaking.
How do you know He did not make it so that it would make Him feel the need, so that He could enjoy the feeling of need, just for a change ? Answer me that one, then!
If He HAD the desire to HAVE a situation, a system which would CONTAIN or INFLUENCE Him in this way, why that is merely an INDIRECT way of saying that He has unsatisfied need, is in a system, internal, external, either, both, of which He is part, which impels, or leads Him, so that He is defective.
IF He were in anything or at any time defective, it would be that HE was not the standard, HIS was not the power, HE would wait for fulfilment; and hence if HE REALLY wanted that, He would lack wisdom. To do that, He would have to be able to grow in wisdom, and in the meantime to put up with lack. If so, then He is not self-sufficient, but growing in someone else's system.
If He were not self-sufficient, I sparkled with amusement, then it is not HE who is God, on whose self-sufficiency, the existence of anything depends. If in anything or in any part He had to wait on something in order to BE what He is, or wants to be, then His would not be the sponsoring completeness, the overall totality of sufficiency on the existence of which the very existence of ANYTHING depends. He would be a containerised unit, a species in the general, a portion of the enwrapping whole, a device in the clouds of creation, not God!
Since He is not this sort of figment of phantom of the imagination, but the necessary condition of anything and everything so much as having any being at all, neither is He unrighteous. It is not as if need or desire influenced Him; as if His design were to extort, or squeeze; or His erratic desire were to seize Him, rather than total knowledge at all times, having all and being where and what He would be. He is what He would be. He always is.
If He were not, then again, the seaweed system drags on Him; and it is not His. If He made it that way for the thrill, it is the same: need unsatisfied at the elemental level means NON self-sufficiency. Creation becomes the work of making Himself become what he would like to be. Then He is NOT at THAT time what He would like to be; thus He is merely a wanter, and what wants, lacks, is not self-sufficient. That figment is not the God who made you. Let's talk of the One who did.
As truth, the only perspective uninfluenced by ignorance or vice, He makes what He wants; and as to this, He wants for it what is true. Lies are a horror. They distort what He has done. They are war on Him. Injustice is an affront to the way He made things. It steals from what He has made, the truth. Sin distorts. God invents. He even invented salvation for sinners. He does not want sin, but in the interests of liberty, suffers it while His always sufficient plan of salvation operates.
He has chosen His own people before the world was, I continued, glancing at the strange light phenomena which pierced our words with a sudden, almost startling brightness.
When it ceased, I added a little.
He is showing the way; some are following it. As to Him, He has it all in His hand; as to us, we wait for it. He has His own ways of bringing us to Himself; and wants it that way. The creation is on course, learning and being shown.
Go on, he said, I am listening.
Man, then - he is TOTALLY dependent on the creation of his codes, systems and significance by God. To God therefore he must look for ANY meaning or drive or purpose, worthy of Himself, or indeed, of his own being, for little as it is, it is still significant. You see, God alone has the definition, the hand-book for the code-look, and above all, the word for the spirit of man, that talking spirit, which brings peace and understanding.
Without God, you are wantonly derelict, however much for the time being your sufficiency, which is temporary illusion, replaces His sufficiency, which is logical necessity. Voluntary divorce from an adulteress, if you want it, is one thing; from God, it is quite another. It is better to be divorced from your arms or legs, for then at least part of you would be where it belongs.
What about a series of gods, you know, a number, inventing each other and that sort of thing ? he queried. It was a timely thrust, so I answered at once.
A revolving series of gods needs the creator of the system, the one communication for many beings, the structure for their reactions and responses; in the end, then, it all and always comes back to One, self-sufficient, original, to whom eternity is as natural as the temporary is for us; except that it is not entirely natural for us. It is a penalty.
As to Him, what He is can be found out by His works, concerning eternity and His divinity; but His heart - you wait till He tells you. As we saw, there was no way a world like this could cohere with Him, unless He spoke into it, communicated, divorced its way from His ... or, of course, if you want the other option, which will come soon enough, destroyed it! It is war: either He has a purpose for which He is acting, in suffering this war, and a victory which is certain, or it would contradict His very existence.
He looked at me. That, he said, when you come to look at it, is about as mad as lead made the hatters; but we would have no excuse, not having to handle hats. What is nothing is nothing and nothing follows, as you so rightly said; and what is something has to have what it takes, as is obvious, and what it takes is what is required for what it is, and what it is requires ... Him always there, always adequate. No, His existence is as sure as my head.
True, I agreed. The billowing ocean breakers seemed to pause in their courses, perhaps with a contrary wind, as he spoke. It was as if all Nature were solemn a moment, as if somewhere the angels were holding their breath. How lovely it is when the young find the Ancient of Days! There seemed a great moment of deliberation. Then I went on, and spoke to one who was certainly listening with the heart.
Consigning people and children to a wicked world without option of out, would merely show a god who was not there, a mere thingummy, came my words amid the shrieking gulls and their beautiful pageantry of motion; but it is to the Almighty that we are looking. It is His word which therefore must be found. It is not difficult to do so. NOTHING else but the Bible, in all standard religious communication, shows evidence which is overpowering and obvious, has its beginnings from the first and has the answer to the question: WHY LET THIS BE! and where is the remedy! It is remedy or ruin, not the first, so therefore the second.
But remember: a needy God is One who needs the things He lacks, and is inadequate in a system which is His bound. The cattle, He says, on a thousand hills are mine, and if I were hungry, I would not tell you. He lacks neither truth nor its implementation.
As to His salvation,
it is the ONLY ONE who has the evidence of authenticity. And He, as you may
know, had what it took. I mean the Christ of whom Bible declares, HE is the
salvation (Isaiah 42:6, 49:6). Indeed, He is called there the covenant, or
beautifully solemn and sure word and agreement of God. God did not leave us to
guess. It is all there, found in Him. He IS it, the sacrifice for sin,
BECOMING A CHILD OF GOD
That's good, mate, he exclaimed. Tell me, what do you do ? I guess this run down life is not for long. I wouldn't mind living it up - like the kids, up there! Oh I know, they seem to go up at night, and to be so fresh and popular with Someone in the morning, it makes me feel old and seedy. Hey look, what do you do ?
I told him: repent of sin, believe in Christ, yield all sin to Him, see that it is quite covered since He cleanses from all unrighteousness, by faith (I John 1), and then look to Him and listen to His word, His Spirit lives in you and you are in communion with Him, and life begins at it ought to have begun at the first.
He did this, proceeding with heavy sighs, but some sort of look of relief, mixed with it.
It was quite a walk, by the breakers, the brave breakers, like the noisy sea of turbulence. But the peace that is there, when it is found, is past all breaking. It never ends..
I saw him the next day.
Hey look! he said. I am stepping out for Christ. I was one of the children of the dawning, this morning. How is that ?
Wonderful, I said. And how does your little brother feel ?
Honest, I never knew the
kid. He is something when you begin to realise what he is about.
What should I do now ?
I told him about a Bible course and we arranged for it, about praise and prayer and dealing with details in faith, and moving mountains. We had quite a talk, but it was more private.
I'll tell my parents about
this, he said. No more man's church for me. The
That's right, I replied. The word of God says this: In Me is your fruit found! (Hosea 14:8).
Just then some swooping gulls darted down, and suddenly but quietly were borne aloft, and though in the wind, stayed hovering nearby, as if they were indifferent to the forces of Nature.
That, he said, that is good. In the middle of the wind, one can be still, and being still, be active. It is kind of peaceful, isn't it ?
Past all understanding, I
replied (Philippians 4:6-7).