Tuesday, January 29, 2019

When I Awake

"I shall be satisfied when I awake with Thy likeness." (Ps 17.15) 

We have been presented with a false picture of life,
     a picture tinted with Triumphalism,
          and facile achievement, 
               and a type of "jingoism" of invincibility. 

Maybe it is a type of "Christian Socialism" where all is easy, and all ends well.

It is a dream from which the Christian must awake ...
There is a different and more real picture.

Let me refer to an old poem written about the poet Cowper to try to illustrate.
Cowper was an English poet of the eighteenth century -
a friend of John Newton -  
whose whole life was a battle,
whose faith found only moments of a beautiful clarity.

It was he who wrote, among other hymns, "There is a fountain filled with blood."

Cowper battled throughout his life with madness.
The clouds of this affliction swept over his days.
And he felt at times deserted of God -
"Discord on the music fell," says the poem
"and darkness on the glory."

Through it all God watched and worked -
and "suffered ... the madness-cloud to His own love to blind him,
but gently led the blind along..."

The poem draws to an end with the picture of a child who in fever does not feel the presence of his mother, but then awakes to see her eyes, her face bending over him.
And the poet then expresses the insufficiency of the picture to describe Cowper's awaking in heaven.

"Thus? Oh, not thus! No type on earth could image that awaking,"
     it was an experience where he scarcely heard the angels, 
           or felt his new immortal body,
               "but felt Those Eyes alone, and knew, 'My Saviour! not deserted!'"

The child of God is forever deserted, as far as this world's ability to satisfy, 
and there is a lot of Cowper in all of us ...
not the madness perhaps, 
but the intrusion of earth's shadows and the darkness of earth's valleys.

There are places where light is not to be seen, 
     and illumination is the gift of God to the soul;
          places where the soul ceases to seek earthly panacea to cure,
               and finds an infinite realm in its Creator.

There is  "a light which baffles mortal sight." 
And it all leads to God's "vast world above." 

In that world there will be no shadows, only limitless eternal Light and Life.
We will awake there, but we can awake here to that same triumphant Light, in which is no darkness.
This is God's gift to us.