Suzanne's Second Estate

A web log of my thoughts, activities, life....

Monday, April 17, 2006

The Alternative

I’ve been doing some serious thinking about my faith over the past few days. Christianity. It’s called faith for a reason. Paul said, “We live by faith, not by sight.” A hard thing to do in this complicated world. I’ve been rereading a book by James W. Sire called “The Universe Next Door.” This passage I found especially apropos:

In the late nineteenth century Stephen Crane captured our plight as we in the late twentieth century face the universe.

A man said to the universe:
“Sir, I exist.”
“However,” replied the universe,
“The fact has not created in me a sense of obligation.”

How different this is from the words of the ancient psalmist who looked around himself and up to God and wrote:

O LORD, our Lord,
how majestic is your name in all the earth!
You have set your glory
above the heavens.

From the lips of children and infants
you have ordained praise
because of your enemies,
to silence the foe and the avenger.

When I consider your heavens,
the work of your fingers,
the moon and the stars,
which you have set in place,

what is man that you are mindful of him,
the son of man that you care for him?

You made him a little lower than the heavenly beings
and crowned him with glory and honor.

You made him ruler over the works of your hands;
you put everything under his feet:

all flocks and herds,
and the beasts of the field,

the birds of the air,
and the fish of the sea,
all that swim the paths of the seas.

O LORD, our Lord,
how majestic is your name in all the earth! (Psalm 8)

There is a world of difference between the world views of these two poems. Indeed, they propose alternative universes. Yet both poems reverberate in the minds and souls of people today. Many who stand with Stephen Crane have more than a memory of the psalmist’s great and glorious assurance of God’s hand in the cosmos and his love for his people. They long for what they no longer can truly accept. The gap left by the loss of a center to life is like the chasm in the heart of a child whose father has died. How those who no longer believe in God wish something could fill this void!

And many who yet stand with the psalmist and whose faith in the Lord God is vital and brimming still feel the tug of Crane’s poem. Yes, that is exactly how it is to lose God. Yes, that is just what those who do not have faith in the infinite-personal Lord of the Universe must feel – alienation, loneliness, even despair.

We recall the struggles of faith in our nineteenth-century forebearers and know that for many faith was the loser. As Tennyson wrote in response to the death of his close friend,

Behold, we know not anything;
I can but trust that good shall fall
At last – far off – at last, to all
and every winter change to spring.

So runs my dream; but what am I?
A infant crying in the night;
An infant crying for the light;
And with no language but a cry.

With Tennyson faith eventually won out, but the struggle was years in being resolved.

("The Universe Next Door," James W. Sire, pp. 13-15)

I recently told a friend I could never leave Jesus. The alternative is too shabby. I want more. I want a hope and a future. I want a personal relationship with an infinite God. I want a true, high calling. I want Christ.


At 1:36 PM, Blogger Sarah said...



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