DayBreaks for 08/14/12 – An Immense Sense of Mystery

DayBreaks for 08/14/12 – An Immense Sense of Mystery

1 Corinthians 15:51-54 – “51 Behold, I shew you a mystery; We shall not all sleep, but we shall all be changed, 52 In a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trump: for the trumpet shall sound, and the dead shall be raised incorruptible, and we shall be changed.  53 For this corruptible must put on incorruption, and this mortal must put on immortality.  54 So when this corruptible shall have put on incorruption, and this mortal shall have put on immortality, then shall be brought to pass the saying that is written, Death is swallowed up in victory.

My father had been moved to another ward.  In later years I would come to know so well this quietly programmed progression of receding mortality as I stood with other families in faraway hospitals.  Now each stage was mystifying, its details vivid and arresting like a play never before seen.  My father was on his side in the bed, his body curled as if in deep sleep, his breathing labored, the sound harsh and loud in the silent room.  The hours slipped by, measuring the gradual occupation of the room by a terrible intruder.  A sudden spasm of obvious distress and struggle brought an oxygen unit.  The quiet hiss became the background to the whispered attempts at conversation between my mother and myself.

“The door opened and the canon came in.  In physical stature he was a small man.  He came to us as a giant of assurance, care, dependability.  We knew he could not vanquish this greatest of enemies in our family life.  All we knew was that his presence brought something totally beyond definition but of infinite value.  He was still with us when there was a sudden change in the rhythm of my father’s breathing, a succession of quiet gasps, each one weaker than the last, then silence.  Only the sound of the oxygen tank broke the silence, its sibilant consistency mocking the poor lurchings of our human breath giving itself to tears.

“For a moment I was conscious of an immense sense of mystery.  With part of my mind I knew that my father had died.  Yet in those first moments disbelief challenged the knowledge.  I was aware of a new quality of stillness.  I had never seen sleep like that.  I became aware of the canon saying the prayers of commendation as he stood beside us.  I was conscious of a sudden image of a vast vaulted universe, splendid with planetary systems and wheeling galaxies, into which my father had stepped and among which he began to journey.  As we stood together in the timeless way of families experiencing this dark visitation, we were released from immobility by the canon’s gentle invitation to come home and rest.  There was a last silent kiss to my father’s still face and then we went, the small figure of the canon shepherding us forward, quietly playing the priestly role of father.”  – A Doorway in Time, Herbert O’Driscoll

Isaiah 60:19-20 – “19 The sun will no more be your light by day, nor will the brightness of the moon shine on you, for the LORD will be your everlasting light, and your God will be your glory.  20 Your sun will never set again, and your moon will wane no more; the LORD will be your everlasting light, and your days of sorrow will end.

PRAYER: Father, we are both wary, yet intrigued, by death and what the experience will be like.  Help us, in the presence of the final enemy, to sleep peacefully in Your embrace and awaken to see Your glory!  In Jesus’ name, Amen.

Copyright 2012 by Galen C. Dalrymple.

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DayBreaks for 07/13/11 – The Hidden Things of God

DayBreaks for 07/13/11 – The Hidden Things of God

Create in me a clean heart, O God. Renew a loyal spirit within me.- Psalm 51:10

For me, one of the highlights of our recent road trip was visiting Carlsbad Caverns National Park.  If you’ve not been there, stop right now and go pencil it into your bucket list.  It’s a must see – like the Grand Canyon.

We descended about 2 miles through the caverns to a depth of 750 feet underground, wandering among spectacular and strange wonders.  At every turn, new visions would appear of shapes and colors and textures – all marvelous and delightful.  I shot more pictures that day in the caverns than at any other single place on our trip.

When we came up out of the cave after several hours, I was struck with the wonder of what God had created in a place that only He could see for thousands of years.  Why would God make such beauty, only to hide it in absolute, total darkness 750 feet below the surface of the planet?

I don’t presume to speak for God on this matter, nor to know His reasons, but I’d be willing to venture a few thoughts on the subject.  First, I think God creates because He delights to do so.  And much of what He creates has always been hidden from human eyes: things on the ocean floor, things in deep space that we can’t even begin to see with our most powerful telescopes.  Yet, He created those things because it delighted Him to do so.

Then, I thought about the darkness of the human heart, and how it, too, like Carlsbad, is hidden from view.  And God is at work there, too…slowly, painstakingly, over long periods of years, forming and shaping and changing the landscape of our hearts to more closely match that of Jesus.

When we look at one another, we see only the outside.  We can’t see the inside.  We can’t change our own hearts from sinful to obedient.  It is work that only God can, and does do, day after day…unseen, but yet beautiful, too.

PRAYER: Thank you, Lord, for the beautiful things you create in the hidden places of the world and in our hearts!  In Jesus’ name, Amen.

Copyright 2011 by Galen C. Dalrymple.

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