Wednesday, October 24, 2007

Have we lost our ability to appreciate nature in such a technological world?

There is a hill in my home town that i often scale when i need to be with God in a quiet space... On the left is a photo of a fire that i lit there once, a few months ago when it was still cold at night. Tonight i scaled the hill again with a friend. When we reached the top, we turned back to gaze upon the view (which is quite beautiful). It's a picturesque scene at night, on the left you can see the shimmering lights of a Melbourne skyline and its' surrounding reddish-orange haze, which is almost luminous on a cloudy night. And on the right, a valley of chimney smoke is dotted with dim house lights in a town enclosed by rich green mountains. My friend and i sat down and exchanged only a few brief comments until we were drowned out by the silent beauty of our surroundings.

There we sat in silence for the next 15 minutes or so, with only faint sounds of cars and trains echoing in the distance. It made me wonder how deeply caught up we can get in a life where seemingly everything is at our fingertips. Sometimes we can get so distracted with all the things that we own, and some of the meaningless time wasters we become lost in, that we miss out on the complexity, wonder and mystery that life has to offer us and fail to recognise the humble beauty of creation. When was the last time we just sat down, in a place void of our technological comforts, and enjoyed the free gift that is all around us? With no computers, TVs, myspace, mobile phones, Internet, x-box, PlayStation, e-mail, shopping malls, coffee shops, fast food outlets, cars, clubs, billboards, movies, see my point. I wonder what we would be like as people, if we were to re-discover the awe of this secret artistry that is our world...

For some, the more time you spend in solitude, you will find connectedness and a sense of well-being. For others, you will find yourself being inspired and refreshed. Others still, will find themselves more involved in a deep sense of mystery and purpose. Spend time away from the pushing and pulling of the competitive, money driven world that we live and you will learn something about yourself, about life. There are so many chances to create life, volume, strength, beauty and definition within us, but we must be disciplined and pro-active in our choice to temporarily tear away from our over-crowded lives...

Sunday, October 21, 2007

The stuggle of Grace and Self-Will

For the last few days I've been thinking about the relation of these two ideas... On one hand, you have the grace of God; Pure and Incomparable, unmerited favour, through it we experience love, redemption and forgiveness. On the other, we have self-will; often flawed, risky and incredibly difficult (due to its' need for discipline and self-sacrifice). My current opinion is that we cannot embody a healthy spirituality without a unique combination of the two. But my question to the teacher is this; where do the two meet, where do we draw the line between enough effort and discipline to lead a holy life and a simple reliance on Gods ability to save us from ourselves.

GRACE is a beautiful thing, it is a form of love that goes beyond what we can justify in ordinary human relationships. It has the ability to free us from a nature and position of otherwise helplessness. Grace provides a way out for the everyday sinner who has been entangled and left disabled by their fallenness. One could easily rely on the provision of grace, even to excuse a lifestyle of habitual sin and careless living, but as God has shown me, it is his constant kindness that leads us towards repentance and a desire to change our ways. Grace is Gods' gift to us through his son Jesus, it was never meant to be a reason to become complacent and stale.

SELF-WILL... we've all thought at one time or another, "if i just try hard enough, i can quit smoking...drinking...being lazy
...being judgemental..." etc. But most of the time we fail our pursuits for righteousness. Self will is very important, because it is what God has given us to determine our choices for eternity. Without it we are all just clones and robots to a meaningless cause and future. We are given responsibility of our own lives, which in itself is a divine act of love on Gods' behalf. The opportunities for life or lifelessness are in our wake...

I would surmise that we use our will to respond to the kindness shown to us through the grace of God. The areas of weakness in our life and where we find ourselves to be lacking, are covered by grace, after all Gods' power is made perfect in our weakness. Paul says, we are running a race, and we should run to win. If we are to see fruit in this life, we must to some degree be disciplined, prepared, trained and ready. There is a certain element that involves each individual 'taking up their cross' and following Christ daily. But each of us must also remember that Christ is the one true lover of our souls, who has delivered us from the pit of corruption. Thanks be to Jesus, come on! Rest assured that grace covers our failings, and we will never be forsaken. But i will endevour to show my love towards God by what i do and the choices that i make in this life... These are my thoughts for now,