Tuesday, November 22, 2011

An serenity fíor agus scíthe foirfe (The true serenity and perfect rest)

Ah, my friends! An apology is in order for seemingly dropping off the face of this corporeal earth by not composing an entry in quite a number of God-given days. I have been plagued. If my esteemed audience is confused as to my usage of the term ‘plagued’ to describe my recent state, despite that ‘distant smote’ I mentioned in my last journal entry truly being an isle upon which I sit, I shall attempt to clarify those events which have transpired these past several days. Before I begin to recall those events, though, all I can do at this point regarding the anomaly that is the unusually long duration of time between my last entry and this one is to beseech my loving audience for its compassion.

[Source: http://reyven.jreyven.com/gallery/Na/StainedGlass/OceanCliff.jpg]

As I previously wrote, one of the brothers apparently spotted something promising in the horizon that looked like a grain of sand through the lens of the naked eye. His estimated guess as to the identity of that speck was proven to be correct. By the grace of God, our leather boat did reach a curious iota of an isle a few days after I logged my last entry. Out of devotion to my band of brothers, I have left my journal aside while we have thoroughly scouted the isle, which poorly explains my recent silence. Bréanninn seemed confident that the Lord certainly had willed us to spend some time here; that confidence was well-founded, for not only did we arrive at this island safely, but we also have been blessed by our time here. The Lord knew that we were running low on staples, primarily our rations of fruits and fresh water. Here, an abundance of gorgeous and rich fruits have been discovered. Additionally, glimmering pools of fresh water have been scouted. Naturally, the band of brothers and I had found yet another reason to offer exultations of praise to our Creator and our Sustainer.

Bréanninn had told us on numerous occasions that the power behind prayer cannot be understated or underestimated, particularly by we believers who live through faith in Christ. From our recent adventures, I certainly can do nothing but concur with my brother. After all, Paul did charge the Thessalonian church to “pray without ceasing” (I Thessalonians 5.17). Our first night here was simply memorable and beautiful. After preparing a magnificent fire on the shoreline, we spent the twilight hours offering our wholehearted praise to our Lord Christ, like Paul charged to that aforementioned church (cf. I Thessalonians 5.18a). One of the greatest experiences one can have in this life is the ‘warm’ sensation one can feel whilst the Holy Spirit is ‘working’ within oneself during a time devoted to worshipping the one true God. The reality of such an experience cannot be denied: To a different audience, Paul wrote that the body of a saved Christian is “...the temple of the Holy Spirit...” which is within one (cf. I Corinthians 6.19-20). That supernatural sensation is one that grants me a reason, among a multitude of them, to thank the Lord that I used his gift of free will to acknowledge His Son as “the way, the truth, and the life” (John 14.6).

[Source: http://www.boston.com/community/photos/raw/Cape_Cod_Beach_Fire.jpg]

Now, I must document the other significant happening, which is one that can be called ‘unfortunate.’ I am not afraid to admit that complacency has toyed with me in recent days. Although temporarily staying on this island has been a perfect rest, that serpent of old, being one who never ceases to bombard my brothers and me with temptations and attacks, seems to believe that my content state can be manipulated to one of ungratefulness or complacency. Even though the rich fruit was have found here has been fulfilling and has been a new reason to thank the Lord, complacency has nevertheless plagued me, albeit disguised as boredom. Humans are weak and constantly need the strength of He whom I love. In the Holy Scriptures, the complacency of the weakening and wandering Israelites in the Wilderness of Sin is well-documented. In Exodus 32, while Moses is experiencing the Lord God atop Mount Horeb, the Israelites grew impatient and particularly complacent, as can be seen when they asked Aaron to construct an artificial calf out of their gold. Rather than continue to fear and believe the Lord, as they had done after the wonder at the sea (cf. Exodus 14.30), they collectively chose to disobey the Lord by making an idol. Instead of finding a way to strengthen their trust in the Lord, they unfortunately chose to be complacent. In Numbers 11, the Israelites chose to complain before Moses, saying in apparent unison,

“'Who will give us meat to eat? We remember the fish which we ate freely in Egypt, the cucumbers, the melons, "'the leeks, the onions, and the garlic; but now our whole being is dried up; there is nothing at all except this "'manna before our eyes!'” (Numbers 11.5-6).

Through the intercession of Moses, the people received quail to eat along with the manna. However, the wrath of the Lord struck them “while the meat was still between their teeth” (Numbers 11.33). Rather than finding a way to strengthen their faith in the Lord, or instead of choosing to be grateful for what food they did have, the people of Israel chose to be complacent by not choosing to strive diligently enough for God. I am thankful that the brothers and I have persevered in our faith thus far, even with the distractions this island has offered. The serpent of old has tempted us, but by the grace of our Lord, we have remained in His light and have chosen life.

[Source: http://www.stlukeschurchmaidenhead.org.uk/Pages/]

The most important subject of my prayers throughout the past handful of days has been that the Lord God would keep us from giving in to the wiles of the serpent of old, particularly and pertinently his attacks of the spirits of complacency and ungratefulness. The Lord God has charged us to praise His beautiful name in the best of times, and to worship His majestic name in the worst of times. As it is truly written, “If He takes away, who can hinder Him? Who can say to Him, ‘What are You doing?’” (Job 9.12). In another place, we are charged to “Praise the Lord! For it is good to sing praises to our God; For it is pleasant, and praise is beautiful” (Psalms 147.1). Finally, it is written that “The Lord shall preserve you from all evil; He shall preserve your soul” (Psalms 121.7). The brothers and I, by the influence of Bréanninn and the Lord, chose to embark on this spiritual mission to exult His magnificence and to show both the Lord and ourselves that we are zealous enough to obey the call to “rejoice always, pray without ceasing, in everything give thanks; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you” (I Thessalonians 5.16-18). We have been call as thus: “Do not quench the Spirit” (I Thessalonians 5.19). My prayer is that during the rest of our stay here on this blessed island, we shall not falter in our adherence to His calls, for we love Him through the passionate love of our Lord Christ. “He who does not love does not know God, for God is love” (I John 4.8) always resides in the back of my petty and undeserving mind. But through even so much as knowing the Lord, we shall eternally prosper and flourish.

Thou joinest and diffusest through the whole,

Linking accordantly its several parts,

A soul of threefold nature, moving all.

This, cleft in twain, and in two circles gathered,

Speeds in a path that on itself returns,

Encompassing mind's limits, and conforms

The heavens to her true semblance. Lesser souls

And lesser lives by a like ordinance

Thou sendest forth, each to its starry car

Affixing, and dost strew them far and wide

O'er earth and heaven. These by a law benign

Thou biddest turn again, and render back

To thee their fires. Oh, grant, almighty Father,

Grant us on reason's wing to soar aloft

To heaven's exalted height; grant us to see

The fount of good; grant us, the true light found,

To fix our steadfast eyes in vision clear

On Thee. Disperse the heavy mists of earth,

And shine in Thine own splendour. For Thou art

The true serenity and perfect rest

Of every pious soul, to see Thy face,

The end and the beginning; One the guide,

The traveller, the pathway, and the goal.

Boethius, Invocation 20-42.*

[Source: Darcy Ireland]

*Source - http://www.poetry-chaikhana.com/B/Boethius/Invocation.htm

Sunday, November 6, 2011

Meáchan na n-uiscí whelm an domhain (Weight of waters whelm the earth)

The divine gift of life is a bittersweet one. Although it has lovingly been granted by the Lord to an arbitrary person, that life, due to the perverted and wicked spiritual state of the world, is quite a race to endure. Even though the maelstroms have plagued the brothers and me, it is with spiritual confidence I can declare that the ‘light at the end of the tunnel,’ so that saying goes, can be seen. Trusting in the Lord with wholehearted faith is not only vital for the pious Christian, but also is necessary to survive this life, which is rampant with lusts and temptations. As Bréanninn has said, we are not to doubt the real presence of that serpent of old, for thus it is written: “And the Lord said to Satan, ‘From where do you come?’ So Satan answered the Lord and said, ‘From going to and fro on the earth, and from walking back and forth on it’” (Job 1.6-7). However, the truth that lies behind the idea of looking to Christ to overwhelm the agents of Satan cannot be denied: “You believe that there is one God. You do well. Even the demons believe - and tremble!” (James 2.19). With the gift of life, one is faced with two choices: Either one can choose to submit oneself wholeheartedly to the omnipotence of the Lord or one can succumb to the wiles of Lucifer, that serpent of old. It is my prayer and hope that not only would all people would choose the former option, but also that this aquatic voyage would help affirm my intent to choose that former option.

[Source: http://bertan.gipuzkoakultura.net/23/argazkiak/g/022.jpg]

The voyage is producing spiritual fruit, despite that our frugal approach to managing what rations of fruits and water we have is being undermined by the long stretch of time on the sea without having spotted a shoreline. My yearning to serve the Lord Christ Jesus has merely grown more profound since the brothers and I set from the shore of our home in County Galway, particularly in the past week. The necessary perseverance to endure dwindling staples would be an apt method by which to describe my true and most pertinent situation. As the weeks have passed by without a graduate assistantship, let alone any sort of job, through which not only to sustain myself but also to fund my education, I have been tempted to give up my hope in the loyal provision of Christ. However, thanks to the support of His holy church, pertinently through the church which I attend each Sunday morning, along with reassuring words from my pastor, I wholeheartedly comprehend that I shall survive “and my God shall supply all [my] need according to His riches in glory by Christ Jesus” (Philippians 4.19). Spiritual doors have cracked ajar recently, thanks to my trust in He who is unfathomably wealthy.

The Lord has not brought me on this mission viz. to Providence without properly equipping me for what tasks He would have me undertake. In more general terms, the Lord shall honour those who strive to honour Him by actively longing for the perfection of the Father. When Samuel was about to be raised into the priesthood by the Levite Eli, the priest was told, “‘for those who honour Me I will honour, and those who despise Me shall be lightly esteemed’” (I Samuel 2.30). Under the terms of spiritual surrender to an unconditionally-loving God, it is vital to heed the words of His apostle Peter: “[Cast] all your care upon Him, for He cares for you” (I Peter 5.7). It is by His unfathomable caring for the transpirations in my life that I am able to be assured that He shall grant me what tools I shall need to ensure, including perseverance.

I must stop here for the moment, for one of the brothers has spotted something of significance in the horizon. Although he believes that speck to be land, I cannot confirm such a speculative remark for myself. However, we have been drifting by the winds of the Lord for quite a number of weeks now. I choose to trust that He shall being us to land, whenever that may truly be, in His timing. He understands the needs of the band, and He shall replenish our staples according to His purpose. Perhaps He shall have us undertake a fast for a certain number of days. Maybe that speck is truly land. Even though I honestly hope the latter is true, I choose to be content with the will of God. With patience shall we soon see what that distant smote is, that grain appearing amidst the flows and ebbs of the vast ocean of trials....

Maker of earth and sky, from age to age

Who rul'st the world by reason; at whose word

Time issues from Eternity's abyss:

To all that moves the source of movement, fixed

Thyself and moveless. Thee no cause impelled

Extrinsic this proportioned frame to shape

From shapeless matter; but, deep-set within

Thy inmost being, the form of perfect good,

From envy free; and Thou didst mould the whole

To that supernal pattern. Beauteous

The world in Thee thus imaged, being Thyself

Most beautiful. So Thou the work didst fashion

In that fair likeness, bidding it put on

Perfection through the exquisite perfectness

Of every part's contrivance. Thou dost bind

The elements in balanced harmony,

So that the hot and cold, the moist and dry,

Contend not; nor the pure fire leaping up

Escape, or weight of waters whelm the earth.

- Boethius, 'Invocation' 1-19.*

[Source: http://50essentialexperiences.com/wp-content/uploads/2011/10/OceanThumb.jpg]

*[Source: http://www.poetry-chaikhana.com/B/Boethius/Invocation.htm]