Constant Confidence

Solar Eclipse
Solar Eclipse

The earth shall soon dissolve like snow,
The sun forbear to shine;
But God, who called me here below,
Will be forever mine.

Amazing Grace
By: John Newton, 1725-1807

Listen then read.  This version is Chris Tomlin as found on Music inspired by the Motion Picture Amazing Grace.

I think I first heard this stanza as the closing reflection of this version by Chris Tomlin featuring the new refrain he wrote for the movie.  There is this incredible, grand sweeping idea that all we know in this existence as constants, the earth in its apparent solidity, the sun in its faithful radiance, will change; but this one thing will not, my relationship to God.  It is difficult to wrap my mind around this, so expansive are the implications of this truth.

Reading these words initially had the impact of making me feel very small, until the sweeping realization of the last portion sinks in.   I go from feeling very insignificant, to very significant.  I think this is especially true since I am writing on a day when I just experienced a solar eclipse.  God, who made all the wonders of earth, moon, stars and sun, called me.  He called me to be His, first made by Him then remade by Him, and I simply responded with praise.

Calling

This calling is not just reserved for those who are in vocational ministry, by no means.  When God calls us from darkness to light (1 Peter 2:9), He does so on purpose and with purpose. Our lives can seem small and ineffective at times, but they are not.  God has called us “here below” and there is a purpose in that calling beyond just being His.  It beckons us forward on a great journey with our Lord, though some are afraid to go.  There is something He wants us to do and it flows out of our calling.

Activist-Abolitionist-Example
Activist-Abolitionist-Example

I think William Wilberforce knew this.  A British Parliamentarian, it was not long after he surrendered to the call of Christ that he became a strong voice for the abolition movement in England.  The movie Amazing Grace chronicles his struggle against the slave trade, one that dominated about 20 years of his life, and ended with the passing of The Slave Trade Act in 1807.

He knew that it was imperative that he act, not simply to have faith.  Do you know what God has called you to do?  God has called you to be His, but what flows out of that being for you?  Maybe you already know the answer to that question.  Great!  But are you at it?  If so, awesome!  If not, why not?  If you can not say with confidence what God has called you to do,  take a few minutes right now and ask the Holy Spirit to reveal to you if there is anything that He is calling you to do.  But a quick word before you do…

Before you are tempted to spiritualize this question beyond all hope of recognition, let’s keep it real.  The Latin word meaning to call is vocare, from which we derive the word vocation.  God has called you to do something, and a big part of that may very well be your vocation and/or the things your vocation positions you to do.  Do not dismiss the possibility that you may be doing part of, if not even more of what God has called you to do.  Ok, now take a couple minutes.   Seriously, just ask Him.  You may be surprised by what you hear.

Once you have determined that and surrendered to it, two very different but deliberate actions, I want to encourage you to press into it with all you are.  Do not relent when things get difficult.  Press on until one of three things happen.

  1. earth-disolve (1)You accomplish it.
  2. Jesus calls you to Heaven.
  3. The earth dissolves like snow [which I am pretty sure will not happen before 2.]

Happy Tuning!

Jesus, thank You for the confidence that even if the earth dissolves and the sun darkens You will care for me.  I can rest in and move around in that confidence to do what You have called me to do.  May You find me faithfully working until it is fully accomplished, or You call me home.  In Jesus name.  Amen.

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What’s Behind the Veil?

Bridal Veil
Bridal Veil

Yea, when this flesh and heart shall fail,
And mortal life shall cease,
I shall possess, within the veil,
A life of joy and peace.

Amazing Grace
By: John Newton, 1725-1807

Listen as you read.  This version is from Grace by David Tolk.

When I read the word veil the first thing that comes to mind for me is a bridal veil.  This is not what the hymn is referencing, but it does introduce a whole different set of images.  Veils are meant to cover something up or keep something hidden, even if not entirely, and that is exactly what we are going to think about here.

In the simplest, most direct sense, the veil referenced here is an allusion to the fact that we can not clearly see the amazing reality of heaven, and all that will be ours in that blessed reality.  The truth described here is the hope we have in eternal life, even when this life ends.  Using the phrase  “within the veil” conjures up a few other rich images though that are in some ways connected.

Veil Between Earth and Heaven
Veil Between Earth and Heaven

Heaven

Jesus has made Heaven available to us through His sacrifice.  Even though it is our inheritance, we do not yet possess it.  When was the last time you spent a few minutes and simply thought about eternity.  Images like this sunset mountain scene stir up within me a longing for more than this life affords.  There is a sense of expectancy and hope within the misty mysteries of forever.

Think for a moment about the two pictures the hymn writer has so skillfully juxtaposed.  Heart and flesh failing, joy and peace unveiling.  When my heart fails me, then I shall know that joy that I only tasted of in this life.  When my flesh ceases its strivings, then shall I finally find peace.  How often we pray for broken hearts to be mended and fatigued flesh to find new strength, and rightfully so, but fail to thank God for the reminders these faltering blessings usher in to our existence on this side of the veil.

Maybe better than faltering, the word incomplete might suffice.  Heart and flesh are blessings, but they are incomplete in that they point us to a better, greater blessing.  Which brings us to another veil.

Veil of temple
Veil of Temple

Temple Veil

The Old Testament sacrificial system pointed us to a better, greater blessing as well.  As a part of the system the High Priest would enter the Most Holy Place, by the blood of goats and calves, to atone for the sins of the people once a year.  The veil of the temple kept the Most Holy Place beyond view.

When Jesus died that veil was torn in two from top to bottom.  As opposed to endless sacrifices, Jesus died once for all and entered the Most Holy Place, by His own blood, to make atonement.  [Hebrews 9:12] That veil would not longer block entrance to the Most Holy Place.  It was a representation of what Jesus actually accomplished, but we are waiting to behold.

Connected

The veil of the Temple, Heaven, and bridal veils are all connected.  Here’s how.

We can not see into Heaven, any more than the priests could see into the Most Holy Place.  The groom can not clearly see his bride while her veil is down.  The Church is the Bride of Christ, and she is getting ready to meet her Bridegroom.  That will take place in Heaven, and the access to Heaven was granted by Jesus sacrifice.  Think about how all this rich symbolism ands context and texture to these wonderful truths through things we know and see, pointing to things we believe which are veiled.

There are definitely some really cool things to think about.  Take a few minutes and ask the Holy Spirit to help you to wrap you mind around the incredible treasure that is waiting for you, within the veil.

Happy Tuning!

Jesus, thank You for giving me access to pass through the veil when my time comes.  Give me courage to face that day with the hope that what I have longed for will be realized.  Cause me to long for it now so that realization will be even sweeter.  Help me love You with all my mind as I wait! In Jesus name.  Amen.

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