The Closed Door

“When a door of happiness closes, another opens. Often we look at the closed door, we do not see the one that’s been opened.”

– Helen Keller

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Of His House

Therefore, holy brothers and sisters, partners in a heavenly calling, take note of Jesus, the apostle and high priest whom we confess, who is faithful to the one who appointed him, as Moses was also in God’s house. For he has come to deserve greater glory than Moses, just as the builder of a house deserves greater honor than the house itself! For every house is built by someone, but the builder of all things is God. Now Moses was faithful in all God’s house as a servant, to testify to the things that would be spoken.  But Christ is faithful as a son over God’s house. We are of his house, if in fact we hold firmly to the end our confidence and the pride of our hope.

Hebrews 3: 1-6 NET + notes translation

The Father of Hope

From a report of George MacDonald’s sermon, reprinted in ‘Wingfold’ Winter 2015:

“If we were wise we would never mourn over our troubles. If we had a clearer insight into things we would go down upon our knees and thank God for our troubles. The Lord spoke here to everybody who had something that made him uncomfortable, who had anything in heart or mind, that just wanted Him. Every discontent in the human heart was just a cry after God.”

“We should not say hope was delusive, for we might have chosen the wrong hope. God was the father of hope in our hearts, and he had never had so much hope as now in his heart; it grew and grew till it was infinite.”

Their Birthright

“When doubt and dread invade, and the voice of love in the soul is dumb, what can please the father of men better than to hear his child cry to him from whom he came, ‘Here I am, O God! Thou hast made me: give me that which thou hast made me needing.’ The child’s necessity, his weakness, his helplessness, are the strongest of all his claims. If I am a whale, I can claim a sea; if I am a sea, I claim room to roll, and break in waves after my kind; if I am a lion, I seek my meat from God;

am I a child, this, beyond all other claims, I claim– that, if any of my needs are denied me, it shall be by the love of a father, who will let me see his face, and

allow me to plead my cause before him.

And this must be just what God desires! What would he have, but that his children should claim their father? To what end are all his dealings with them, all his sufferings with and for and in them, but that they should claim their birthright? Is not their birthright what he made them for, made in them when he made them? Is it not what he has been putting forth his energy to give them ever since first he began them to be–the divine nature, God himself? The child has, and must have, a claim on the father, a claim which it is the joy of the father’s heart to acknowledge. A created need is a created claim. God is the origin of both need and supply, the father of our necessities, the abundant giver of the good things. Right gloriously he meets the claims of his child! The story of Jesus is the heart of his answer, not primarily to the prayers, but to the divine necessities of the children he has sent out into his universe.”

Excerpt From

Unspoken Sermons: Series I., II., and III.

George MacDonald

https://itunes.apple.com/us/book/unspoken-sermons-series-i-ii-and-iii/id370193463?mt=11

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Notes: On Love, and Timelessness

I just finished a new read of Sheldon Vanauken’s A Severe Mercy, and it is hard to sieze upon the right words to describe the feeling impressed upon me… It is a story about love, strength, courage, loyalty, beauty, goodness, and hope, I think. I am impressed by a couple of points.

  1. The depth of their thought and idealism, even as pagans (or especially so), and their willingness and strength to uphold the standards and ideals they decided on. I feel that their story is a beautiful example of how love can be nurtured, guarded and checked, so that it may flourish. I think if more of us followed in their example, we too would have a love so large.
  2. An obvious distinction: that love worshipped for its own sake, as a god, on its own, is not a full or complete good, and therefore not good enough to be called a “god.” Even the fact that their jealousy for their love made them seek solitude, or reject having children shows me that they didn’t understand or appreciate the good of having other people in their lives. A fact I think they would have been able to observe in hindsight, and which they did about friends, at least. I don’t know if they were ever able to appreciate what they had lost out on in not having children.
  3. I think that the search for beauty, completeness or total fulfillment, timelessness and home are deep in the heart of all of us. And when we see something good or true or beautiful, it is natural that we should want it, and think we should pursue it. But interestingly enough, the way God has designed this life is such that we must not seek first these pleasures and fruits, and if we do, we find we do not actually get the thing we wanted. So we are instructed that we must not go straight for the shining jewel in the cave of wonders, we must find another, duller looking object. We are told seek first the kingdom of God, and that we must first learn the lessons on what he is teaching us is good, right, true, and pure. And if we do this, then – all these “good” things shall be added unto us. But it is a paradoxical sort of thing, we desire beauty, and yet He knows that first we must learn to be good. Somehow we cannot have or appreciate or even fully enjoy these things, until we learn about goodness first.
  4. I loved Lewis’s final counsel to Van; it was so right, so complete, and so good. To seek eternal beauty, and an “endless” love is not, somehow given to us. And yet something of what they achieved was so beautiful – a unity that is truly rare and priceless. I was proud of Van for being strong enough and dedicated to truth enough to receive it, as from a brother and a father in Christ.

This was a beautiful book, and a truly inspiring journey, both times I read it. It was not perfect, but it was good, and it brought thoughts into my world that I hadn’t encountered before. I hope anyone looking to find a picture of beauty, unity, strength, love, learning, growth, courage and hope will read this book. There are many poignant and beautiful moments scattered throughout, and the correspondence with Lewis is wonderful and insightful.

To Hilaire Belloc

For every tiny town or place

God made the stars especially;
Babies look up with owlish face
And see them tangled in a tree:
You saw a moon from Sussex Downs,
A Sussex moon, untravelled still,
I saw a moon that was the town’s,
The largest lamp on Campden Hill.

Yea; Heaven is everywhere at home
The big blue cap that always fits,
And so it is (be calm; they come
To goal at last, my wandering wits),
So is it with the heroic thing;
This shall not end for the world’s end,
And though the sullen engines swing,
Be you not much afraid, my friend.

This did not end by Nelson’s urn
Where an immortal England sits
—
Nor where your tall young men in turn
Drank death like wine at Austerlitz.
And when the pedants bade us mark
What cold mechanic happenings
Must come; our souls said in the dark,
”
Belike; but there are likelier things.”

Likelier across these flats afar
These sulky levels smooth and free
The drums shall crash a waltz of war
And Death shall dance with Liberty;
Likelier the barricades shall blare
Slaughter below and smoke above,
And death and hate and hell declare
That men have found a thing to love.

Far from your sunny uplands set
I saw the dream; the streets I trod
The lit straight streets shot out and met
The starry streets that point to God.
This legend of an epic hour
A child I dreamed, and dream it still,
Under the great grey water-tower
That strikes the stars on Campden Hill.

G. K. C.