Dark

“Scotty!” Mom’s voice danced into the room.

Scott opened his eyes. The piano music from downstairs had stopped, the scenes had faded, and his room was lighted only with the natural sunlight flowing in through the open blinds.

“Scotty, we’re going to the store. Come on down.”

Scott had heard many sounds, and he could imagine even more. But of all of them, Mom’s voice was by far the most wonderful. It rippled like a stream, bursting with sweets and kisses. It was the only voice that could paint an entire room. No matter how big of a room it was; as soon as Mom spoke, her voice splashed over the floor, up the walls, and across the ceiling.

“Coming, Mom!” Scott stood up and took a quick account of himself. Everything was in order, and he started towards the door. When he was at the exact place on the floor where the door would brush by if it closed, something caught his eye. He froze.

“Mom?” he whispered, scared and unable to make his voice work. He was staring at what appeared to be a dark spot in the corner of the room by the outlet. It wasn’t just a shadow or an area where the light wasn’t shining brightly. Somehow, a large piece of pure dark was sitting there watching him. It was something wrong, something very wrong. It didn’t belong in the room.

“Scotty, honey, hurry up!” Mom’s voice poured back in, and the strange darkness faded. Scott breathed carefully, wondering if the apparition would return. It didn’t, and the incident quickly faded to something unimportant. He hurried out of the room and down the stairs.

Boxing Day

I’ve always liked the day after Christmas. As the excitement settles down and the decorations begin to detach themselves from houses, gifts begin working their way into everyday life. Children play with their new toys, adults use their new tools and appliances, and everyone wears their new clothes. Life settles into a normal routine.

The greatest gift that anyone has ever recieved is God’s gift of His Son and the salvation that is available to us through Him. At Christmastime I focus more than usual on that gift. Once Christmas is over and the focus begins to fade, that gift stays and continues to work its way into everyday life.

We often say that the main point of Christmas is to think about Jesus and His coming to earth. But if the holiday passes by and nothing in our lives change, then the time was wasted. As life returns to normal, I pray that the clear understanding of the gift I’ve recieved will stick with me in the coming year.

“Fear Not”

“Thou shalt not be afraid for the terror by night.”

Tomorrow is Christmas. Tomorrow we celebrate the gift that God has given us in His Son. Christ’s coming was spoken of long, long before that night in Bethlehem, and His second coming has yet to occur. Everything that we trust in and hope for hinges on the person and the work of Jesus. And it is because of that hope and that trust that we celebrate Christmas.

From His promise to Abraham to His Revelation to John, God’s messages of hope for mankind often come with the command “fear not.” When man first sinned and was confronted with God, his immediate reaction was one of fear. From that point on, people have been plagued by fears: fear of death, fear of the unknown, fear of the future, fear of other people, fear of our own guilt. Fear is a debilitating symptom of our sin.

When the angels came to announce the birth of the Savior to Mary and to Joseph and later to the shepherds, they always began their message in the same way: “Fear not.” While the reason for the reassurance may have to do with the frightening appearance of angels, it’s also clearly connected to the content of the message itself. When Jesus came, He brought us joy. He drove away every cause for despair. Through Him, we have the gifts of forgiveness, a relationship with God, eternal life, certain hope, Christian fellowship, a wonderful message to share, and the promise of His own presence with us constantly. No wonder Paul encourages the young pastor Timothy with the words, “God hath not given us the spirit of fear.”

So often, we focus on the world around us. We allow the circumstances of a vaporous existence distract us from the reality of God’s blessings. Children fear dreams and shadows, but as we mature as Christians, so must our understanding of the world. As Christians, we often do things backwards. That’s why I love Christmas: while most people seem to think that Christmas is a time for childish and superficial fun, I see Christmas as a time of growing out of childish fears and maturing in my ability to cast every care upon God and experience the joy of His salvation anew.

I’ve often been told that I’m good at looking at the bright side of things, and that that ability indicates a childlike nature inside me. I’m not certain that’s true. I simply try to focus on God. And there is no darkness in Him. The celebration of Christmas should remind every Christian that every cause for despair that we have ever known is nullified in the light of God’s perfect gift. “Fear not: for, behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy.”

Violet

Violet is the last color of the rainbow. Violet is often associated with purple, but the two colors are not the same. Violet light has a certain frequency and wavelength. Purple, however, is different. It doesn’t have a wavelength or a frequency because there is no such thing as purple light. Purple exists only as our perception of the combination of other colors. Purple is only in the mind of the beholder.

It’s said that “roses are red” and that “violets are blue.” By definition, however, violets are violet. Violet, the color, is named after violets, the flower, so whatever color violets are, that’s violet.

Different cultures have different standards for what is considered purple.

And my plan was to somehow take all of these facts and ideas and tie them seamlessly together into one post and make it somehow linked with Christmas. But I couldn’t force it to work. So this disjointed collection of paragraphs will have to do.

Christmas

Interestingly, secular movies and songs about Christmas often stress that the purpose of the holiday is something more than a celebration of materialism. The true meaning of Christmas, they say, is love. Or brotherhood. Or the value of life. Or giving. Or, as the Grinch explained in somewhat vague terms, “a little bit more.” More than anything, though, Christmas is apparently about “believing.”

Believing in what, exactly? Santa? Magic? A white Christmas? The inner goodness of humanity? According to “The Polar Express,” it doesn’t really matter what you believe. Just believe something. That’s “the thing about trains; it doesn’t matter where they’re going. What matters is deciding to get on.”

Few things speak to the importance of the gospel more clearly than the gaping hole that Jesus leaves behind when He’s removed from any aspect of life. Christmas is a perfect example. The world recognizes something eternally significant about the idea of Christmas. Something happened and is happening in the world, and it’s worth celebrating. There’s something that we can believe in. But when Jesus is removed, all that’s left is the disconnected concept of belief in something good.

Seeing the world’s confusion makes me all the more thankful that I know the one thing truly worth celebrating and that it’s so much greater than anything that the world can dream up. “But when the fulness of the time was come, God sent forth his Son, made of a woman, made under the law, to redeem them that were under the law, that we might receive the adoption of sons” (Gal 4:4).

Teaser: Arabesque #1

“Signing off.”
The com crackled closed and the voyager let the long sigh escape. As the stress of preflight, take-off, trajectory calculations, and congratulatory messages from his coworkers on earth faded into an inky blackness, he finally remembered once again why he kept coming out here.

The stars silently swirled around him, surrounding his tiny ship, blinking and beckoning him onward from their distant homes incalculable fathoms below, above, and around him. He could fall lightyears in any direction. But he just drifted, dignified and humbled, an imperceptible, improbable dot amidst a sea of dots unimagineably more powerful than he all liberally scattered across the vast, vast expanse. And everything was silent.

“They don’t know,” he thought to himself. None of those people who criticized his choice of a job, those who called him foolish, those who compared his life to Elton John’s Rocket Man, none of them knew the most important part about space: “It’s all in color.” Every color imaginable and otherwise paraded itself throughout the universe. And the voyager was the lone human observer. It was only for him.

He drifted. He pushed his seat back from the small dashboard and watched as nothing happened very slowly. And yet everything was happening. He was watching more happening than any human alive. Though they remained perfectly fixed in their alloted spaces, the stars alligned themselves into geometric shapes and spirals, dancing constanly around in the darkness. There was no orchestra, no drumline, no theatrics. Just the simple sound of the stars singing.

The voyager closed his eyes and waited for the sleep to come. He would soon awake at his destination. That short moment between signing off and sleep, though, is the one moment that kept him coming out year after year. Some might consider his life tedious or lonely, but he knew that as long as he was able to fly this tiny ship out here, he would be the luckiest man alive. He smiled as he slipped into sleep with the familiar words on his lips: “I think it’s gonna be a long, long time.”

Bananas (A Short Thought)

Just a short, simple thought today. How can you tell if a banana is ripe?

One of my final assignments for this semester of school is to write a paper about practical Christian growth in a church setting. So I’ve been thinking a lot about how Christians grow. How can you tell when a Christian is maturing? How can we tell if we ourselves are acting as we should?

The answer is short and simple: we must be constantly viewing our lives under the light of Scripture, following the guidance of the Holy Spirit. Our natural eyes are very often blind to our own failures, but those failures stand out when we hold the Bible up to our hearts and compare. And when we grow and change into the image of Christ, God will use His Word to reveal His work in us to us.

How can you tell if a banana is ripe? You hold it under a different light. Under a blacklight, ripe bananas glow indigo.

Blue…?

If you’ve been following recent posts, you may be aware that I should be writing about the color blue today. Unfortunately, my time has been swallowed up by 59 papers to grade. I was up way too late last night, and I’ll probably be up way too late tonight. I’m busy and sleepy and altogether unable to think up a post about the next color in the rainbow.

My eyes used to be blue, but now they’re red.

Back to grading.

Teaser: Sonata in B Minor, S.178

A large house appeared through the thick fog. The pale yellow moonlight, softly sifting through the misty atmosphere, revealed an imposing four-story curiosity. The front, painted all shades of night and ocean, was covered with windows of different shapes and sizes carefully placed in odd locations so that it was nearly impossible to determine from the outside where one floor ended and the next began. The traveler, weary of walking and intrigued by the mysterious exterior of the building in front of him, made his way along the path to the front door. It swung open easily at his touch.

Once inside, he stood speechless at the spectacle that greeted him. The inside was stranger than the outside. Walls appeared in unexpected places and furniture, mosty end tables, were tossed about at random. And yet the entire house was so evenly balanced that only the most skilled architect could have achieved the effect. The wallpaper, the novelty items on the tables, the frames around the mirrors, and even the balusters and the finials along the banisters of the many twisting staircases, though appearing to come from completely different regions and periods, each displayed one of five basic patterns, giving the entire house a breathtaking coherency.

Ascending the nearest staircase, the traveler noticed the colors fading as the entire house became covered in swaths of deep gray. In contrast with the maze that made the first floor, the second floor was one large room. The windows were lightly tinted in a mixture of odd hues, filling the room with an eerie and relaxing light that illuminated the farthest corners. Large couches and canopied beds stored beneath gray sheets and curtains rested around the room like sleeping whales. Smaller brass items around the floor grew like coral around the traveler’s feet. Everything, even the cobwebs around the chandeliers, seemed to be deliberately placed. The same decorative patterns that were prominently displayed all through the ground floor graced the walls and ceilings of this floor as well.

Eager to discover the house’s secret, the traveler continued upwards. The third floor greeted him with a blaze of light and color as he stepped into a glorious ballroom. The windows were all stained glass. Cleverly placed vents and ducts kept a steady breeze blowing in all directions. Clouds of dust were constantly swirling, catching and scattering the colored light, becoming dazzling, dancing spectres. The traveler laughed as a dusty ballerina twirled past him, shooting off bright pinks and golds.

Finally climbing to the fourth and final floor, the traveler felt the air grow cooler. The light dimmed to a soft glow, and he found himself stepping into a small upper room. It was a comfortably furnished bedroom, set up to greet a weary sojourner. The now-familiar patterns were sensibly etched into the furniture. On the freshly made bed was a note written with a kind and hospitable hand. It welcomed him to this unique house and invited him to enjoy a rest from his traveling. He crawled into the comfortable bed, glancing briefly at the paintings around the walls of breathtaking landscapes and beautiful sunsets. Slowly, he drifted off into a deep and sound sleep filled with dreams of home.