Monthly Archives: July 2009


>Brad Paisley is my favorite male country singer and he has a new song out called “Then.” It’s a ballad about how he thought he loved this girl at different points in their relationship–first date, first kiss, proposal–but he is always surprised later to find that he loves her even more.

I could just see you, with a baby on the way
And I could just see you, when your hair is turning gray
What I can’t see is how I’m ever gonna love you more
But I’ve said that before

I was looking through my old journals a few weeks ago, and I couldn’t help snickering at some of the things I’d written about certain boys and about God. At various points I thought I would never love anyone else as much as so-and-so, and then…

When I think about my last relationship, I sometimes wonder if I actually loved him then, just because I can’t love him now. When I was younger, I was certainly convinced that I loved people that I actually didn’t. But I think that maybe I loved all of them to the extent of my ability at the time. I have a slight problem with holding on to the idea of “my first” and sometimes I want to throw out the past because it didn’t all turn out to be good, but God is helping me see that it’s okay to love in part as long as that’s the most I can do at the time.

Now we see but a poor reflection as in a mirror; then we shall see face to face. Now I know in part; then I shall know fully, even as I am fully known. (1 Corinthians 13:12)

In my education classes we are learning about conceptual change, and one of the ways to define change is as extension. If I think of my knowledge of how the world works and my ability to love as a fixed entity to attain, then I will be chronically frustrated because I will never get there, but if I think of it as something to build on, I will continuously reach new heights/depths.

The same goes for my knowledge of and relationship with God. When I was in high school, I thought that I had God figured out, but that got blown to pieces in college and I am not in a hurry to reassemble a rigid notion of Him. Now I hope that every time I think I’ve reached the depth of my knowledge of and intimacy with God, I can break through to the surface waters of another level yet. The sign of impending breakthrough (in every part of my life) is unfulfilled yearning, which makes some of my desires a little less scary.

“Far from realizing Him, you begin to realize nothing more than your own helplessness to know Him…and yet the more helpless you are, the more you seem to desire to seem Him and to know Him. The tension between your desres and your failure generate in you a painful longing for God which nothing seems able to satisfy.” (Thomas Merton, New Seeds of Contemplation)

I look forward to the day when I can look back and think about now as then…

Now we see but a poor reflection as in a mirror; then we shall see face to face. Now I know in part; then I shall know fully, even as I am fully known. (1 Corinthians 13:12)


>Hypotonic Holiness


And the LORD said to Moses, “Go to the people and consecrate them today and tomorrow. Have them wash their clothes and be ready by the third day, because on that day the LORD will come down on Mount Sinai in the sight of all the people. Put limits for the people around the mountain and tell them, ‘Be careful that you do not go up the mountain or touch the foot of it. Whoever touches the mountain shall surely be put to death. He shall surely be stoned or shot with arrows; not a hand is to be laid on him. Whether man or animal, he shall not be permitted to live.’ Only when the ram’s horn sounds a long blast may they go up to the mountain.” (Exodus 19:10-13)

We discussed this passage in church on Sunday and our pastor pointed out that God set limits even as He was about to reveal Himself. Now that actually did not strike me as terribly incongruous because I have accepted, intellectually at least, that God is God and I…am not. But as I was thinking about it, here is the metaphor that came to me.

Tonicity is a relative measure of solution concentration. If Solution A is hypertonic to Solution B, there is more stuff dissolved in Solution A, and therefore Solution B is hypotonic to Solution A because it has less stuff dissolved in it. Water, or any solvent, has a tendency to move from a hypertonic to a hypotonic solution to “balance” the tonicity. (This happens as a result of the second law of thermodynamics, there is no intentionality or volition for the water’s movement.)

Living cells are mostly water, but there are lots of solutes dissolved in it. If you place a cell in salt water (hypertonic to the cell’s interior), water will rush out of the cell and the cell will plasmolyze, or shrivel. If you place a cell in pure water (hypotonic to the cell’s interior), water will rush into the cell and possibly cause it to lyse, or burst.

We are cells, literally and figuratively. God is like pure water, and if He were to surround us fully, that purity would destroy us because we are not pure. So in His wisdom, God has put limits on us (and how much He reveals of Himself) so that we don’t a’splode. The biological analogue would be the cell wall that is around plant cells; the rigid wall allows water entering the cell to cause it to swell without bursting. In fact, a plant’s mechanical strength comes from billions of cells full of water pressing against the cell walls, a phenomenon called turgor. If millions of Christians were full of God’s spirit, within the limits He sets on us, what strength we might have!

>Yes and No, and a lot of science metaphors

>I picked up a note that had been left on the stairs in my department building this week (because I never learned as a child not to pick up things left by strangers!). On the outside, it read, “Will you make the decision to pick me up?” and inside the author had written, “To say yes to one instant, is to say yes to all of existence.”

For most of my life until now, I’ve been saying No. No, I can’t come hang out. No, I don’t want to go to the prayer meeting. No, I can’t go on a missions trip. No, I don’t know who God is or what He wants for me, at least not really. And I’ve also been saying Yes. Yes, you can tell me how I should and should not feel. Yes, I will believe the lies you tell me about myself. Yes, I will let you decide what I wear and what I eat. Yes, I will take responsibility for your feelings, but not my own.

I’ve had to learn a new set of Yeses and Nos since coming into a personal and devoted relationship with God. Sometimes I am to say Yes to things I am to say No to the next day. This doesn’t mean that God is fickle or inconstant, rather He is so majestically the same that in my own endless frenzy of activity, I am always overshooting and coming back to center, like a sine wave. People criticize God for being too harsh and too lenient, too big and too small, too pessimistic and too optimistic, too restrictive and too lax…but maybe that means He is the norm past which we are constantly swinging like some mad pendulum. (This is a concept I borrowed from a chapter in G.K. Chesterton’s Orthodoxy that forever changed the way I see God and myself.) One day I hope to reach a sort of equilibrium with God in which I track with Him more steadily, not saying Yes or No too much or too little. Homeostasis, the steady-state, in which an organism is truly healthy and best able to grow and reproduce.

For the world we live in, it is not possible to say yes to all of existence, because not all existence is right, but there will be such a world one day. To say yes to one instant, when God calls us to Him, is indeed to say yes to all existence, that is in Him. Will you say Yes?

>iTunes conversation

>Don’t concern yourself
With this mess you’ve left for me
I can clean it up, you see
Just as long as you’re gone
And it’s alright, yeah I’ll be fine
Don’t worry ’bout this heart of mine
Just take your love and hit the road
There’s nothing you can do or say
You’re gonna break my heart anyway
So just leave the pieces when you go.
(“Leave the Pieces,” The Wreckers)

He’s the time taken up but there’s never enough
And he’s all that I need to fall into
Drew looks at me
I fake a smile so he won’t see
(“Teardrops on My Guitar,” Taylor Swift)

It don’t hurt anymore
All my teardrops are dried
No more walkin’ the floor
With that burnin’ inside
Just to think it could be
Time has opened the door
And at last I am free
I don’t hurt anymore
(“It Don’t Hurt Anymore,” Martina McBride)

I’ve never been the kind that you’d call lucky
Always stumbling’ around in circles
But I must have stumbled into something
Look at me
Am I really alone with you
I wake up feeling like my life’s worth living
Can’t recall when I last felt that way
Guess it must be all this love you’re giving
Never knew never knew it could be like this
But I guess…
(“Some Hearts,” by Carrie Underwood)