I was born while the “stiff upper lip” brand of English was still in evidence. I learned from a child to be strong and keep my emotions on a tight leash. There is something to be said for this early training. I could never have survived and successfully brought up my kids alone without it. You set your feelings aside for the sake of others in order to deal with whatever crisis may arise.
Only in my senior years have I felt able to give my tears free range and I’ve come to realise, for me the things that bring tears most readily are intense joy, beauty and the moving of God’s spirit. It’s very seldom they come from sadness, perhaps my early training precludes much of this, or perhaps I just have a blessed life.
We are often embarrassed when tears come in public, (I still always try to quench them – tears are humbling lol!). However, if I examine my reaction to tears in others they bring feelings of compassion, empathy, and camaraderie.We feel close to those that cry for whatever reason. I don’t mean those self-seeking sorts that cry buckets for attention and think the world revolves around them, but rather those who humbly allow others this glimpse into their inner being, their joy and their sorrow.
To believe the unbelievable, and then to find it true.
To turn on the colour in a world of shades of grey.
To feel joy growing in your heart till it gushes out embracing all around.
To have a light, a candle, which, though it may flicker, can never be extinguished.
A flame to kindle others, as stars bedeck the night sky.
Once you have started seeing the beauty of life, ugliness starts disappearing. If you start looking at life with joy, sadness starts disappearing. You cannot have heaven and hell together, you can have only one.
It is your choice.
Photo © Kok Leng Yeo
“With fear and great joy” This so captures those moments when we perceive God not as a far off deity, but a living entity involved intimately in our very lives. I love this phrase!
“There was a great earthquake; for an angel of the Lord descended from heaven, and came and rolled back the stone from the door, and sat on it.
His countenance was like lightning, and his clothing as white as snow and the guards shook for fear of him, and became like dead men. But the angel said to the women, “Do not be afraid…”(the strong men, the soldiers, were terrified, but the defenseless women had nothing to fear for they came seeking Jesus.)
“So they went out quickly from the tomb with fear and great joy…”
“Jesus met them, saying, “Rejoice! … Do not be afraid.”
It is this awe so great it might border on fear were it not immersed in total and overwhelming joy, that quickens my heart time after time.
Sometimes I miss the wonder of it, immersed in plans and busyness, but leaning out of my window on a spring morning I pause to smell the freshness, the scent of nature outside my window, the gentle warmth of the sun on my face, bringing colour and light to the surrounding garden. I remember the beauty of it all and I’m so glad to be alive.
The first thought when hearing “eternal life” tends to be “life after death”, but either believers are right and all live eternally or atheists are correct and there is nothing after death (in which case also nothing to worry about since you will no longer be aware).
Examined logically “eternal life” (as expressed in Biblical texts etc.) denotes something more than survival because it is partaken by some and not others. It seems to be speaking rather of quality of life – living rather than existing. As Braveheart so aptly states, “All men die, but not all men truly live!” There’s a difference between eternal life and eternal survival. Eternal survival in an environment in which you felt trapped, fearful, or alone would be the worst kind of hell!
So what is meant by “eternal life”? John clarifies “This is eternal life, that they may know … the only true God, and Jesus Christ…” We are told Jesus came that we might “have life and have it more abundantly” an enriched life, beginning not at death but the moment we come to truly know him in a personal and intimate way, a life enriched by the power and joy of his spirit, possessed not at death but right now in our present life and that to come.
There is so much we can learn from children, innocence, wonder, joy, gratitude and faith etc.
The prayers of a small child are without equal. They have yet to discover it can’t be done.
To dream a dream so joyous and fulfilling that you awake to your whole spirit glowing yet unable to remember of what you dreamed, the thread lost.
Fear and intense joy says it even better.
It’s the feeling that comes when you are party to a miracle. Not simply a routine answer to prayer but the unbelievable, unexplainable, totally outside science and understanding happenings.
Fear comes upon us when confronted with the impossible. Powers so far beyond our understanding invade our comfortable little world and we realise we are but dust, less than dust. Yet fear is closely followed by great joy as it dawns upon us that this immense, uncomprehendable power source loves us. Suddenly all is possible, the problems of the world no longer rest as heavy on our shoulders. God is real and he loves us!
I’d heard this song many times, but this morning it spoke to my heart.
“Cast out our sin”… those secret sins hidden in the heart, pride, selfishness, arrogance, the ones we hide from all but Him.
“Enter in”… the habitation of Christ – the only way we can love the way He loves, His spirit in us. This may seem scary, to give free entrance to another, our will giving way to theirs (visions of “The exorcist”). But not with Christ, for “God is love”. His spirit is love, pure love bringing joy, peace and compassion for our fellow man. It’s like having the one you are totally in love with, and whom you trust utterly, live within you, knowing you can never be parted and that He’ll defend and care for you, not only in this life but forever.
“Be born in us today.” We celebrate Jesus’ birth at Christmas, yet He can be born in our hearts every day, the Christmas miracle replayed many times over. I’ve long believed that was what He meant when He said, “greater things shall ye do because I go to the Father.” His power and love manifest in millions of hearts around the world. Only in this way can peace on earth truly come. Though we may be well meaning, our hearts are not pure enough without his spirit ( the hidden sins remain) and without His power we cannot defeat the evils of this world.
I rejoiced in the realisation that the miracle of Christmas can live in my heart every day – Christ with man.