The Alchemy That Love Brings

When I sit in my living room, in my favorite chair, and look out of the window, I can see the stand of tall pine trees behind my house — I can watch them sway almost imperceptibly in a gentle breeze, as the late afternoon sun begins to paint their upper branches . . . until I become entranced. I can’t explain why this moves me the way it does, bringing me such a sense of well-being – I just know that it does. I do know however, that the older I get, the more acutely attuned to the simpler pleasures I become – the very details of which, I undoubtedly raced passed in my youth.

As the eyes of a kid in a candy store grow wider with the seemingly infinite possibilities, he becomes filled with the reckless desire to have far more than he can hold – when even a starving man is more possessed of need than desire . . . the child is natively drawn into desiring more than his need requires. But an unconstrained desire for anything other than God can only lead us into various permutations of addiction. This is likely why our youth is often ill spent in chasing after our passions — first one thing and then another.

Even our desire to love and be loved can become distorted and pulled into the undertow of diminishing returns, creating in us an insatiable need to control the outcome . . . of how love will serve our desire.  So we become more preoccupied with conforming love to our agenda than with allowing love to change us. In 1 Corinthians 13, Paul makes the case for love’s preeminence – not as something held hostage to our every whim, but as something with the transformative power to change the way we see everything else . . . bringing proportion to what we value.

imagesBy design, love isn’t meant to pool up and become stagnant, but rather, it is meant to cascade over the edges of your life spilling on to everything in your life, until you begin to understand it all as a sacred blessing. In this way, everything and everyone appear as changed, no longer to be known as ordinary, but appreciated within the full economy of creation, because God has spoken all things into existence. This is the alchemy that love brings – God changing us to the point where everything we see appears to us as being changed, as well.

This dynamic is most obvious to me while playing with my grandchildren, or enjoying comfort food my wife is expert at preparing. But I am learning to detect it in the less obvious details of my life, learning to find God’s fingerprints hiding in plain sight. As I learn to look for all of these rare and ponderous moments awaiting discovery in my every day, God is reshaping me, reshaping my heart and mind to more readily find his presence . . . so don’t mind me – I’m just watching God’s hand swaying in the pines.

The line “the alchemy that love brings” was taken from this song
I wrote for my daughter Jessica’s wedding 


Walking Through Walls

I never met a kid who wasn’t interested in having super powers. And judging by the popularity of all of these comic book movies and TV shows that continue to come out, there’s still a bit of a kid in each of us still entertaining, if only as a passing interest, this particular fantasy. I fully appreciate the allure – super powers would address so many things all at once. Our sense of significance; our struggle with feeling powerless; our desire to do something important with our lives; and our ability to serve the downtrodden. So not only would it be very cool to have super powers – there would also be tangible benefits . . . maybe God ought to look into this.

In truth, we can game out a thousand “if only . . .” scenarios that would work far better than the one we feel stuck in – but what if that’s just a trick of perception? What if I told you I walk through walls, and walk on water every day . . . and so do you? Would you believe me? Your first reaction, no doubt, would be to consider it impossible. But then as you’d begin to think of it in terms of a riddle to be solved . . . then O yeah! “he’s talking about walking through doors and taking a shower!”

Reflexively, we think of what is common, as being common, and what is impossible as being impossible – until we are forced to find where the overlap may exist. Could it be that much of what we find impossible is really more about our failure to identify where this overlap might be? My riddle can be solved when we reframe what is impossible by reimagining what is possible. This isn’t found in the fairy dust of positive thinking, which more often than not is built on nothing more than existential expectations — no, this is a radical redefining of the way we define what is possible.

jesuswalksonwaterIn Matthew 17:20 Jesus tells us that the smallest amount of faith can move a mountain – now, you are more than welcome to hold this in the abstraction of metaphor . . . but even as a metaphor, it is still fundamentally insisting that we must rethink the very fabric of what is possible. That when we are willing to see others and ourselves through the lens, of even the least amount of faith, the possibilities begin to multiply on our horizon.

The admonition of Jesus to “love your enemies” (Matthew 5: 44) may strike you as an impossibility, that the distance is too great and the walls are too high . . . and that even Jesus would have written those people off by now. But trust me when I tell you – that’s Jesus calling you to walk through walls . . . all of the walls you’ve built, all of the walls they’ve built. These walls cannot withstand the love of God, they will fall like the walls of Jericho . . . like the gates of Hell. And God’s name will be glorified for what only he is capable of doing. So the only real question is – are you willing to believe you can walk through those walls?

Here’s a song I wrote years ago about the way we view walls