The Scar Chapter 1

“Why do you feel like you always have to reinvent the wheel?” She asked him.

“Because,” he said, “I want to experience the wheel. If I don’t make the wheel, I don’t know it.”

This was said one time by a man who had special volcanic powers. He could generate fire and even pour of himself and it became as lava. As it cooled he fashioned it into shapes and stones, and as his skill grew, he could make anything. When he made something, he knew it through and through because it came from him, and was of his inner fire. He made a table, and knew that table because it came from out of him. When he was full grown, he made a whole house of various types of volcanic stone: obsidian, granite, and the pumice all shaped according to the desire and design of the craftsman.

One year there was a terrible flood, and his house was right in the middle of it, but it held fast because its foundation was fused by his lava to the bedrock. When the water receded, he saw that the water had washed away parts of the stone. He knew that weathering over time was going to destroy anything he made. So, he re-melted and replenished the stone where the water began its decay, and if any mold or mildew showed up on any of the rock, he would melt it away and patch the stone.

As the years went by, he met a woman who had hair the color of lava flowing down her head. He fell in love with her and invited her to his home. She looked around and found the stone work impressive, but a bit grim. She was not like him. She had the ability to nurture plants. Under her watchful care, she could cultivate living things to their full potential. Soon, they agreed that they wanted to live together for the rest of their lives, and so they got married.

They moved into the stone house, and soon the plant-loving woman had made space in the home for living things to grow. She moved things around in the house, and she did not understand that the lava-crafting man felt intently everything that she moved around, because he knew each thing, and why it was where it was, and how it was inside. She came to understand this over time, asking similar questions to the first question of this story. But, over time, both of them took ownership of what he made, as she was able to use his stone-work for her plants. Any time she needed a pot, he would make one for her, or planters, or wall-hangings—he fashioned them all for her. They were very happy together. The plants were protected, soil-enriched, and warmed, and the house looked much more like a home, and the air inside was fresh and less fumy.

However, the woman was unhappy after a while. Such a place was great for a house made of stone, but she wanted to move near the water so that she could nurture her plants more easily. At this, the man halted, because water was the very thing that would wear away at what he made, and compromise it. They sought a compromise, and when they had found one, they moved to that spot. The mountain they moved to in a very green country they built near a mountain stream. This suited the man fine because he had plenty of rock, and the water was being channeled down the stream which in the winter swelled to a river.

Then they had their first child. This child was gifted like his father and his mother but different. She had the ability to impart life to someone. One time when she was three years old, she found a butterfly that had been stepped on and lay still, but she picked it up, blew on it, and it came to life in her hands and it flew away. Her parents discovered soon that this priceless gift came with a price. She would grow ill, hurt, or deathly sick in proportion to the amount of life that she would give out. One time, she healed another child at school who skinned their knee, and she limped on her own leg for a week and then she got better. Word got out in the school that this girl was special, and the parents feared for her, so they left the mountain stone-home by the stream and got into a covered wagon and drifted from place to place. They home-schooled the girl, whose name was Zoe.  From her father, she learned that structures are first fluid, then they must be solid, but if need ever arises for them to mended or amended they can be melted and renewed. From her mother, she learned that life could only be given by something that life itself had grown.

Zoe understood that her parents were trying to protect her, but she longed to share her gift with the world. She did not know yet how precious a gift it was, or how terrible the world could be to such a one with such a gift. She became familiar with the stories of the Bible. In them, Jesus from Nazareth healed people, and the people ended up crucifying him. She wondered if maybe that might happen to her. She found in the Bible, the same fire that her dad said helped him to create things, and the same life that grew the things her mother cultivated.

As time went on and as she used her gift, she collected two sets of scars. One set was resulting form the wounds that she incurred, the second set was from wounds of others she had healed. This second set was her favorite.

One day, fifteen-year-old Zoe sat beside her father on the edge of a cliff staring out over the woodlands in the evening.

“It’s like I can get inside what people are feeling and experience it myself.” She voiced to her father.

“Yes,” he said, “When you let it happen to you, it becomes a part of you. I would encourage you to do something: learn from your mother. What she knows is probably more important than what I know.”

“But Mom,” she said haltingly, “It’s like she doesn’t understand. She doesn’t get inside things the way we do.”

“No, she doesn’t. But she values that which is outside herself. That is the lesson she can teach you better than I can. Perhaps one day, you’ll meet someone who will teach you this lesson even more.”

“Have you ever gotten to know her from the inside? You know what I mean.”

The Dad smiled and said, “Your mother is self-less in a way that I am not, and yet she gives of herself all the time. . . like you.” He said patting her on her shoulder. “You’ve been given two very different parents, but you will never fully become like either of us. I know you, because you came from me, and yet, I know that somehow, God is going to make you, something more than either of us, something different. And He’s the only one who can.”

Then he gave her a side-hug pulling her in close and kissing her head.

A “Pilgrim’s Progress” Dream: Christian Retirement

I slept, and in the morning time before waking, I recall I had this part of my dream.

I was on the way with a bunch of Pilgrims to the Celestial City. I was walking down the road after Vanity Fair right before Doubting Castle. The later afternoon sun was to my left and there was a cornfield all around me. The path emptied out into this lane 20-feet wide each direction which was made of mowed-down corn stalks and mud. It reminded me of walking the Disney Marathon. The cornfield path was mowed down along the narrow path to the Celestial city, but the wide path gently swerved off to the right as it came to a tall hedge. There was a gap in the hedge with an old rancher’s gateposts (One post on either side, and a wooden beam across the top) The hedge was too thick to see through but through the gate, I could recognize from my reading of Pilgrim’s Progress, the rocky, difficult path that Christian and Faithful had to travel, and the lush green grass beyond it, and further the clump of trees in which Christian and Faithful got lost by following Vain Confidence. I looked through the gate narrow so that two people could walk side-by-side, but kept on going down the wide corn-mowed path. I did not know that it was leading me out of the way. I thought that the gate was like the stile over which Christian and Faithful got out of the way, so I went along with everyone.

We walked a little further to a beautiful oak tree covered hilly landscape. Through the oak trees was a huge brick home with white trim and a black shingle roof that stretched longwise in both directions. It was a Christian Retirement home. People stayed there to wait their turn to be called to finish. New arrivals, according to the one in charge of the mansion, would be good for another year. I went inside, and witnessed a conversation between two caucasian ladies and an African-American lady. The two Caucasian ladies politely suggested the African-American lady that she had to find another place to live. I was shocked. This was a demonstration of selfish, petty, racism. I knew I had to go back to find the narrow gate.

After this, I awoke and told my wife my dream. She saw in the dream a warning: that Christian Retirement is not a thing. Instead, we have to keep going on the path to the Celestial City, which will mean difficulty and hardship, and we will be tempted by doubt and despair and vain confidence, but we must be faithful.

The Enemy’s Scheme

In the spirit, I presume, of the Screwtape Letters by C.S. Lewis, let me share what I think is a glimpse into one of the schemes of the Evil One of which we should not be ignorant:

“Let the nation burn with the fires of sex. As it leaves the fireplace of marriage, that which He meant for light and comfort will destroy their homes, and their shelter will be lost. Then people will consume each other for fuel to keep warm.” laughed the Evil One, “And all the while their hearts grow more unfeeling; and they quickly forget His likeness found in sexual union, and those ‘images of Him’ born from these unions will be brought up in a place where, in His very blessedness that bore them, He is completely unrecognizable.”

His Face

Someone on Facebook asked the question: “What made Jesus compelling to you?” My answer was, “His Face.” He said that he was “interested to hear more!” I asked him if I could give him a long answer as to why. This is my long answer as to why I find His face compelling.

How do I know Jesus’ face? I’ve been collecting a kind of mosaic.

  1. In the Scriptures in the original languages. My Dad wrote this for me in my first Greek New Testament. It’s from A.T.R. “A Grammar of the Greek New Testament” pg xix. “There is nothing like the Greek New Testament to rejuvenate the world which came out of the Dark ages with the Greek Testament in its hand. Erasmus wrote in the Preface to his Greek Testament about his own thrall of delight: ‘These holy pages will summon up the living image of His mind. They will give you Christ Himself, talking, healing, dying, rising, the whole Christ in a word; they will give Him to you in an intimacy so close that He could be less visible to you if He stood before your eyes.’” I personally have found this to be true not only in the New Testament, but also in the Old. The Face of Yahweh, is revealed at last in the divine human face of Jesus. “He who has seen [Jesus] has seen the Father.” (John 14:9)
  2. Visions. He has let me see something of Him, which of course is appropriated to my being enabled to receive, and the purpose He has for me according to which any revelation is designed to conform me to Him. This is submitted to Scripture. Also, all of this is in relationship with God, as I seek to engage with God with a “pure in heart” (they will see God) and “clear conscience.” (1 Tim 1:5)
  3. Scripturally exemplified relationships. When I see Jacob’s story of wrestling with the “man” I see how he engaged with Him, and afterward went to see Esau. When he saw Esau, Jacob says, “. . . I see your face as one sees the face of God, and you have received me favorably.” Gen 33:10 This is translatable as “I have seen your face like seeing the face of God, and you have favored me.” How did he know what seeing the face of God was? He recognized the favor in Esau’s face according to God’s face. So, I recognize Jesus’ face in love and relationships. As the musical Les Miserables ends, “To love another person is to see the face of God.”
  4. Interest. I am a very interested person, because I know that through Jesus everything was made, which means everything that exists has come through Jesus, and I like tracing it back to him. As G.K. Chesterton says, “There is no such thing on earth as an uninteresting subject; the only thing that can exist is an uninterested person.” I have an open face to see the world, to know what it all means as coming from Him. This open face is what I love about children (I’m a school teacher) because their hearts are so full of wonder. And when I welcome them in His name I welcome Him, and I recognize Him. (Mark 9:37)
  5. Art. When I see a painting that answers what He has revealed to me through His word, through the Holy Spirit, through relationship, and the world around me, I do not worship that “image” or “idea,” I take it to God as I seek to know Him face-to-face personally not eidetically or un-livingly. Examples: The famous picture by Akiane Kramarik, the Nathaniel Hawthorn Story: “The Great Stone Face,” Michael Card’s Song “His Gaze” are all parts of the mosaic, which bear some likeness to the One I know personally!
  6. Glory. Not the glory of man, but as I worship Him, I know His glory, and that glory is the revelation of Christ. As Paul writes in 2 Corinthians 4:6, “For God, who said, ‘Light shall shine out of darkness,’ is the One who has shone in our hearts to give the Light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Christ.” And the more time we spend “seeking His face” in worship, the more the light of His face will shine through us.

So, I know His face by pure heart, clear conscience, and sincere faith in His Word, by His Spirit, with love, throughout creation, from his revelations, and as worship. And it is beyond compelling. It is beyond compare. It is . . . altogether lovely.

Flighty Bird

My heart is like a flighty bird
Bobbing around from place to place
Fearful at the suddenly heard
Little leaving little trace

I once rescued a flighty bird
Frantic flapping by window pane
Til I gently cupped it’s fragile wings
And brought it safe outside again

The bird stayed in my hand a spell
And searched the meaning in the calm
I treasured it and wished it well
As it flew free from my open palm

Lord, save this flighty bird from the pane
Cup me gently with your hand.
And opening free help me stay
Treasured more than I can understand.

The Captain’s Voyage

In this story, the earth was flat, and the edge was terrible! The land was on the edge of the plate, with waters in the middle and below it cascading waterfalls over the edge into the abyss below. In from the rim, there was a great and vast sea that spread over the whole area within the Rim World, and in the center of the Sea was rumored a dark hole, ever enshrouded in cloud and rain. The waters flowed in the sea out from the center, onto the beaches of the Rim World, and underneath eroding the underside. The inhabitants of the Rim World knew or chose not to know that they and the land were doomed to destruction, should no way of escape be found. Many lived inland as far from either shore they could to feel the security of land everywhere their eyes looked, still others sought to turn away from the waters of judgment flowing from the Center, and stared off the terrible edge into the black seeking false promises of salvation in the Abyss itself. But from this abyss, no salvation could be found.

Still others looked from the shore of the Rim World to the inner Sea, and in this world, sooner or later, most people came to take up the profession of Sailing. Ships sailed around and around the Rim and the Center. Every once in a while, the Column of cloud and swirl of rain in the distance at the center lit up with a golden flash like a lantern. One time this happened, a Captain in port of the Rim met a man who told of one who had fallen into the Center Abyss and had returned. He said, for those who have the courage, the center is the doorway to a New Heavenly World. There was also a story that the waters near the centered flowed down from the Heavens, and that the Center let anyone whose ship belonged to the Master of the Seas to sail among the Heavens with Him. And so the flashes of gold would light up the dismal hopeless lands as reportedly, a ship would rise from the Center up to the Heaven World.

This Captain believed, and started preparing his vessel, setting off from port. Many had attempted this journey, but few completed it. The Water flowed contrary to the Vessel out from the Center, but the Wind blew ever toward the Center. But people would go so far and roll up their sails, or suffer themselves to be driven back to the Rim. But the Heaven World was for those whose sails were open on their journey to the Center.

The Captain settled in his heart he and his crew were going to the Center. He knew the Rim world was doomed to fall into the nothingness over the edge, so being pulled out to sea, he opened his sails and waited. The Holy Wind filled his sails and carried him along. At first, he rode around staying near the shore empowered by this new wind, but he soon learned that the wind bore a voice that spoke to him in the rattling and flapping of the sails calling him to remember his quest, and the One who went before. So with his crew, he and a fleet of sailing ships made for the ominous cloud round the hole that was hastening the rim’s demise with its downpour.

In a fearsome fog and storm, the Captain had to learn to follow the Voice on the Wind alone and soon came through the fog, along with a handful of boats. The rest stayed in the fog or turned back.

As they sailed, they came upon a Cruise ship which had dropped anchor part way between the center and the land at a little floating dock in the water. People were celebrating the Wind’s cool breeze and their avoidance of the Rim world’s destruction, and they powered their docks with windmills. Being content with company and this world, often they would sail back and forth between the Rim and the floating town, to repeat the simulation of their journey to the center. But often such docks lasted only a short while in these turbulent seas, and people left floating would either go back to the Rim world, or struggle to build another wharf. Still others would return to their original quest. This last group was very few.

The Captain moored in this floating harbor called “Near Gathering” and when he saw that it would one day fall, sinking daily despite the efforts of the cruise ship captain, he listened for the wind, which spoke of a specific path to the Center he must take. He announced to his fellow captains, whose boats were all moored there like cars in a parking lot, and said to them, “The Wind has spoken to me, if I am to reach the Center, this is my path to take. What say you? Will anyone go with me?” Many counseled him to stay and help keep their floating wharf afloat, but some who knew the true aim of any Sailor’s quest committed them to the Voice on the Wind they all heard, and the Captain moved beyond, now with a couple of ships following him.

The Next journey’s stage was choppy but wind-swept. Wreckages of ships sailing for the Center nearly lost, with flotsam and jetsam and men and women overboard. The Captain and his crew had been charged with the task of rescue and recovery; but many they rescued wished only to return to land, some wanted to return to the floating wharf, and the Captain sailed to and from the Wharf to drop people off. Eventually, he saw that there was too much work for him alone to accomplish for those shipwrecked between the Center and the Rim world. He knew two causes of the ship-wrecks: a sea serpent beneath the surface and jagged rocks upon which other former captains now stood to raid and commandeer other ships in waters choppy and churning not only with the downpour of water not far away, but the swirling sea monster they had been un-shipped to serve. Each was the King of his own island, and they fought each other, except when it came to preventing other captains from reaching the Center. Then they worked together.

The Captain kept his sails open as he steered past these jagged rocks, ever listening to the Voice on the Wind and being vigilant for the attacks, persuasions, or feigned friendship of the other Entrapping Captains seeking to plunder the treasure his vessel had gathered with the flotsam and jetsam and to rule yet another minion of their own dark corners of the world. The flow of water was against, the comfort of land behind drew them back, the encouragement of the floating wharf seemed more palatable, and the work of rescuing shipwrecked was so necessary. Perhaps this Captain should turn back, he wondered.

But no. He had set out for the New Country. The Heaven World. These who blocked the way were preventing many from entering and were themselves not entering. Woe to them! They had taken their stand in opposition to the Master of the Sea’s intention to let all who wish, come and enter in. He denounced them on their threatening Spires and bade them repent and stop oppressing the poor, and instead leave their tiny Rim-worlds and get onto his ship as he made for the Heaven world. None heeded his call, and now, a fear of the Master of the Seas constrained them, from their attack. Sailing wind-swept and voice-led, he passed the row of jagged rocks that were all that remained from here to the whirlpool at the center or so he thought.

The Sea Serpent ruled these lands directly, and began battering the Ship. The Captain quailed at first wondering if it was too late to turn back for the Rim world, but then he remembered the Joy of the Heaven world and he turned his wheel to tack full force on the Wind. He was so near the edge of the whirlpool now. At the very last, as the keel of his ship broke the wall of the Swirl, the sea serpent charged its head straight through the heart of the ship, and reared its ugly dragonhead at him. Many of his men went overboard as the ship lifted up out of the water, but the Captain held his wheel fast. “You have failed,” he cried, “For I am still kept by the Wind, and He will carry me to His everlasting Kingdom.” And so the Dragon could not withstand the wind and the rain here so near to the Center, and falling backwards he descended down the black pit being cast cast down until he was seen no more. The Ship settled back in the water now began to founder and was caught in the swell of the Sea’s whirlpool, spinning downward, downward toward the dark into which the serpent had fallen. All grew dark around the Captain and his men.

Then, suddenly, the torrent of black and water around him turned to golden light caught in the now illuminated water swirling like blown glass windows gleaming with the light of the sun. The Ship once descending was now ascending and or a moment the swirl of water pulsing out from the center ceased as the whirlpool’s polarity reversed. The clouds broke, the rain stopped, and all around the world from the jagged rocks to the shipwrecked peoples, to the floating wharf, to the fog enshrouded to the newly sailing, to the Rim world inhabitants, to those on the edge of oblivion, all of them saw that familiar glow at the Center of the flat earth. They saw someone had made it. The water’s outflow was stilled, and it was easier to sail toward this beacon of light again; so like many moths to a flame, the sea was filled with white sails all endeavoring to make the same journey to the New Heaven World.

For the Captain and the few of his crew who clung to the Ship, their rising up was a joy and a celebration. They praised the Maker of this way, and eagerly awaited their new home to which they neared moment by moment. Beyond the clouds and rain and out of sight of the jagged rocks, and treacherous waters, they came to a fair mild water way above the one they had just left. The Ship with its breached hull was changed to now be made of wood that would never sink. It bore the scars of its battles, and its treasures that were fit for this new world, and the Captain felt the Wind not only in the Sails, but all around him.

He lifted his eyes and saw a Heavenly Kingdom: a great golden city on land, and the waters were not flat, but rather they continued perpetually in a sphere and the Kingdom was alight all around as if the Blue sky above and the land all about glowed as with a light within and without. A Small sea round the portal flowed down in a waterfall, but the further away the ship sailed, it narrowed to a river which the Captain steered no longer to navigate. Rather, the wind carried him up the River of life; on either side of the River grew trees of different fruit and the city of Gold rose up on either side; the River ended at a great throne, and the One who sat upon it was the one whose Wind had carried His voice. He said, “Welcome home, Captain.”

And there was great celebration as the one who sat enthroned was praised for the Rescue of another, and the Captain was given the Rank of Commodore, and given charge of ten cities in this new world. And he ruled at the side of His Master for the rest of forever.

A Pathfinder out of Self-exaltation

In the half-a-year since my last post, I have continued to walk with Him, and have been spared much self-exaltation by the input of people in my life who keep me grounded in Gospel reality. Getting Covid, being in a time of some “transition” in my life, and also experiencing relational abundance that I have long desired has recently brought me to an all-too-familiar temptation of self-aggrandizement and self-righteousness. I am sure others struggle with this too, but for me it looks like having pretend conversations with people that make me feel good about myself. This bad habit has led me into temptations of more practical natures such as indulging in lusts of the flesh, lust of the eyes, and the boastful pride of life that leads to treating others carelessly and unlovingly. This most recent time, I recognized I was turning inwards on myself, trying to assuage feelings of sadness and by journaling, I marked the pathway out.

I believe God has given us tools to manage and combat the sin in our internal world that arises from within all us. If you would like to follow me, I will show you the path from self-pleasing thoughts, to God-pleasing thoughts. The person who spends his time pouring over his own private treasures of achievements and accolades, and bases his view of himself upon them is a very poor man who has little experience of the Love of God in his life. And it is the Love of God that our hearts are truly seeking.

Here is the way back to God if you have fallen or some later day fall into this trap.

  1. Repent, looking to the Lord. The most terrible thing about pride is it gets our eyes off of God and places them onto ourselves or that thing in which we take pride. The first step to any right orientation of the heart is the re-placing of the sight upon the face of Jesus in the Scripture. Seeking His face, His grace, His love, His truth. Without this, one is trying to find his way out of a room blind.
  2. Confess the fantasies and my pride in them. Let’s say I had a fantasy of someone who I thought didn’t like me very much. This person in the fantasy is in danger, and I save their life. If I was to rehearse this fantasy often so that my heart got used to a feeling of superiority over their appreciation, when I engage with that person in real life, it has happened that I find myself dissatisfied with the reality of the exchange at the heart level. It is a fantasy that my heart has wanted to believe to be true, because my heart wants to accumulate more worth to itself. It becomes a lie when I choose to desire that reality over the reality God has given me to live in the Gospel. In other words, when I indulge my heart in good feelings over a fantasy of people’s praise, I base my heart on my own imagination and I become puffed up and I “lose connection with the head.” (Colossians 2:19) This sets me up for the same failure of any member of the body that is powerlessly disconnected from the brain. I say all of this because it may not be immediately obvious what is wrong with fantisy. To imagine it is not necessarily wrong if it’s not in violation of God’s moral will, but the way the heart takes the fantasy and uses it to ascribe worth to itself: this is the wrong. The only true standard of worth that the heart should take pleasure and delight in, is conformity to the image of Christ Jesus. And so, I lay out the fantasy before God, and acknowledge my pride in that self-created smokescreen. This is because “In all your ways acknowledge God, He’ll make your path straight.” (Proverbs 3:6) God can only straighten us out, if we are willing to be straight with Him.
  3. Take each fantasy and feeling and self-thought captive to the obedience of Christ. This is where we can use our imagination against our pride. Jesus said, “Take up your cross daily, and follow me.” So, ever Christian has a tool to put to death their old life, and to remind them of their present life, and the promise of their future life. The Cross is this very tool. It is that which a Christian carries with them, until the time God has appointed them to set it up and give their life as a representation of Christ. It is the very thing that separates Christians from non-Christians, and it is a stage of Christian development that not every Christian attains, but this is how the Cross can be the answer to any sin struggle. In this case, what I like to do is use my imagination to picture my Cross. It’s usually laying down on the rocks in a dark-cloudy place. I see my fantasy stretched out on the cross, and take a hammer in my hand and nail the fantasy to the cross for it to die. I usually incorporate a tangible bodily action like swinging my hand with a make believe hammer in it, because fantasy touches reality through our emotion’s impact on our bodies. The reverse is also true. Reality touches fantasy through our bodily actions impact on our emotions. And so, when I take a fantasy, let’s say pictured as my idea about the way a person should feel appreciative toward me, and I nail it, it’s not like I am wishing evil upon that person. It is my acknowledging that this thought of them is unworthy of them, and must be dealt with. Not only this, but it is unworthy of Christ. And the Cross is the Gate by which anything inside us or outside of us can be given to God as a sacrifice. If God wishes our heart, or our imagination about something to be spared, then He can resurrect it for His glory by the leading of the Holy Spirit. Once this step is taken, I find that there is an emotional response like loss or a sadness over the fantasy given up, but this is where the heart must take the next step.
  4. Thank God for the good things that remain. Whenever I have done this, I have found that God gives me great clarity about the things that are of Him vs the things that are of me. The things that remain still alive after all is nailed to the Cross are things are of God, and therefore worthy of giving Him thanks. The things that are of me are temporary, but the things that are of God are eternal. And when I thank God, I anchor my heart’s sight upon the Lord, by recognizing God’s goodness in the things that are from Him, through Him, and to Him. (Romans 11:36). To Him be the glory forever.
  5. Worship, delight, and rejoice in Him. O the joy of leaving behind the worthless and vain things of our own heart-idolatry! Our hearts grow so unhappy simply because we are so determined to want anything and everything short of God Himself. But when our eyes are on God, we feel based on His truth, His gospel, His love, then we have an overflowing cup of eternal joy that will spread to every area of our life. This eternality of Joy is the secret on the other side of the Cross a Christian carries. The source of every dissatisfaction in a believer’s life, is anything un-crucified, or un-surrendered to his or her new Master. But in obedience and submission to Him, a human being finds his purpose fulfilled, and all his life is as it should be until he hear those precious words, “Well done, good and faithful servant.” (Matthew 25:23)

May you and I find our deepest delight in the One whom our hearts were designed to worship.

The Mirror

Once upon a time, there was a magical mirror. Perhaps you’ve heard of one of these before. This full length mirror framed by gilded flowers had the ability to show the viewer not only what was on the outside, but it also showed what was on the inside of a person. A good person would look into the mirror and would see a beautiful face staring back. A bad person would look into the mirror and see an ugly face staring back. Many people from distant lands came in search of the magic mirror, because they wanted to know what was in their heart. When people left, some of them were in tears, some were rejoicing, others screamed, and others were silent.

The Keeper of the Mirror was a middle-aged man named Henley. He had a daughter named Blaine. Henley told Blaine when she was 12 that she was ready to look into the mirror. His only caution was, “Don’t believe everything you see. There is more behind the mirror.” The child nodded and looked into the mirror for the first time. Staring back was a beautiful face, but as she smiled at her reflection, her teeth were green and sharp. She covered them up with her hand, and her hands were like claws. Her face recoiled and the eyes bulged out too large for her head. She looked away from the mirror, covered her face, and told her father, “Father, I am hideous!”

The old man knelt down in front of her and said, “Look into my face.” She looked. “What do you see?”

She looked and saw his eyes full of compassion and his gentle smile. She didn’t answer him.

“Remember what I told you when you look into the mirror, “Don’t believe everything you see. There is more behind the mirror.”

“So, I’m not ugly?”

“What you saw was true, but about your heart, and what is in your heart will come through your face.”

“Why were my teeth green and sharp, why did I have claws, why did I have eyes too big for my face?”

“That is something only the Maker of the Mirror can tell you.”

“Where is he?” Blaine asked

“If you look for him, you’ll find him.”

“I don’t think I want to. What if he tells me that what I saw was true?”

“That is something for all people who look into the mirror to decide: What will they do with what they see?” said Henley, and then he put his arm around his daughter and led her out of the Chamber.

That night, after Henley had gone to bed, Blaine got up and went to the mirror chamber alone. She couldn’t help but look again to see if it was the same. She trembled, but she also was drawn inescapably it seemed.

Entering the chamber, she uncovered the full-length mirror framed by golden crafted flowers, but she couldn’t bring herself to look into it. She worked up the courage and looked, and there was a girl who was her, but the more she looked the more distorted the image became. Her nose became pointy, her shoulder’s slumped, her hair falling out. She wanted to smash the mirror as sobs racked her body. She crumpled to the ground crying.

She remembered her father’s words, “Don’t believe everything you see.” But if I’m not supposed to believe it, why did he let me see it? Does the mirror lie? Then, she remembered the second half of what he said, “There is more behind the mirror.” She looked up at the mirror frame. It was wide enough to be a door frame. She covered the mirror, and then grabbing ether side of the mirror, she wiggled it to see if it would move. It moved on the right side.

The mirror swung open, and in that dark chamber, a new doorway opened up. Inside the doorway was a craftsman’s shop. She walked in and saw many crafts hanging on the wall. Many mirrors not like the magic mirror.

She walked past them toward the lamp-light at the workbench on the far side of the Craftsman’s Shop.

“It’s a bit late” said the voice of a man with a tinker’s helmet on at the work bench “To be up and about, isn’t it?”

“Who are you?” said Blaine shakily.

“I am a craftsman.”

“Are you the Maker of the Mirror?”

“I am.” said the man.

“Then can you tell me why I saw what I saw?”

“I can, if you want to know.”

“Why were my teeth green and sharp, why did I have claws, why did I have eyes too big for my face? Was it real what I saw or was it a lie?”

“All my looking glasses tell the truth. Your teeth are green and sharp because you are greedy and the things you love are not all good. Your hands have claws because your fear makes you fight others, you had eyes too big for your face because you are proud and think too much of yourself.”

The girl was angry, but slowly as she breathed she knew what he said was true.

“I guess that means I’m ugly. She said sadly.

“Only if you want to stay that way. That is something for all people who look into the mirror to decide: What will they do with what they see?”

“What can I do?”

“Nothing. Your heart is something you don’t have the power to change.”

Her heart sank.

“But that’s not the right question.” continued the craftsman

“What is the right question?”

“‘What can I do?'” Said the Craftsman.

Blaine hesitated, “What can you do?”

“I can show you another mirror.”

He offered her a way over to the other side of the workshop. There was a mirror with a very different frame. It had a ring of thorns around it.

“Will it show me what is in my heart?”

“Yes.” he said.

“Will it be true?”

“Yes. All my looking glasses tell the truth.” he responded gravely.

“But what if I see the ugliness again. I couldn’t bear to see that all again.”

“There is more for you to see if you will seek for it.”

Blaine looked at the thorns, and she felt like she had seen more than she wanted to see already. She turned to leave the craftsman’s shop, but at the doorway of the first mirror she stopped, and her head hung sadly.

“What if my ugliness is really all there is?” She said.

A voice behind her gently called, “It may be, but if you will not look into this mirror, then the mirror outside will be all you have seen. Everyone must look into that mirror, but there is more, if you will see it.”

A tear clouded the surface of her eye, and she blinked it back. She turned back to the craftsman. She walked across the shop, slowly, up to the thorny mirror, and with a feeling like resignation, she lifted her eyes to look.

The face staring back at her was her own. Again she saw the teeth were green, the hands were claws, her eyes too big. She looked and her lips trembled at what she saw. The nose was pointy, her shoulders looked frail and slumped and her hair was falling out.

Then. . . she noticed the other person in the reflection. The Maker of the Mirror stood beside her without his tinkering helmet, and his own reflection came into it, and she saw his face. To her amazement, It was brilliant like the sun shining bright and beautiful, and and she realized the beauty of the heart of the one who stood beside her. It was comforting, but also terrifying, because she saw her own ugliness right next to his beauty.

She looked away from the mirror at him frozen to the spot not sure if she wanted to run or cry.

“Who . . . Who are you?”

“I make things.” He said smiling. “And I also remake things.”

Then, with his two strong hands, he turned the mirror and stepped to the side. Now when she looked into the mirror, all she saw was his reflection glowing at her, and slowly, his reflection, started to take her distortions, and put them on himself. Now He was horrific and ugly looking, his teeth greened, his hands clawed, his eyes big, his nose pointy, his shoulders slumped, and his hair falling out. She couldn’t believe what she was seeing: her ugliness had been transferred to him. She felt so awful that it was her ugliness had caused him to be so disfigured.

Then, he turned the mirror back to her, and she looked and saw her face again. Her face had changed and she gasped. There was no longer any distortion of her features. All of them had been taken away. Instead, her face was glowing and youthful. It beamed like the sun just as His did. She cried again, but this time the tears were happy.

She looked away from the mirror, and saw the Maker standing there, with his eyes full of compassion and love. His own face was still bright with joy.

She was silent.

“How?” she finally asked.

“I made this mirror for you, to remake you.”

“You know me?”

“I’ve been waiting for you. I had hoped you would find me here.” He said.

“My father told me there was more behind the mirror. Why do you hide behind the mirror?”

“Not many people are ready for what I have to show them. Only those who seek me diligently are ready to find me.”

Blaine’s heart was full of peace. “What do I do now?”

“Take this mirror with you. Use it to show others what I have done for you.”

She took the thorny frame into her hands. One of the barbs pricked her finger, and she said, “Ow. Why is my frame so thorny?”

“That, you will understand more in time.” the Maker said.

She took the mirror to her room and went back to sleep. From then on, every time she looked, she remembered the face of the man who made her mirror, and who remade her. And when she grew up, she became the Keeper of the Mirror in place of her father.

The King and His Champion

Once upon a time in a Kingdom ruled by a very wise King, there was a certain knight who was famous for feats of gallantry in battle. This knight was the best sword fighter, best with a spear, best with a bow and arrow, best at jousting– All the Kingdom knew and saluted this champion and praised and cheered each victory.

But under the armor, the knight was very unhappy. Every day this knight would ride into battle with this fear: “I am not worthy to be loved just for me.” This champion also had one weakness carefully concealed: being incredibly slow at running. Because of this, could you guess how many foot races this knight entered? That’s right. Zero!

Until one day, the King made a proclamation that he was holding a footrace in which every knight in his service must compete. But as a peculiar twist, one knight was to wear the King’s own colors. Can you guess which one? Yup. our very own best-at-almost-everything champion. How do you think that knight felt?

The day of the race arrived, and the King’s champion was sick with worry. Soon the whole kingdom would see just how unworthy this knight was to wear the King’s colors. The race began. Very soon every other knight had passed the “champion” who at this moment was feeling like anything but a “champion.” The race concluded and every knight crossed the finish line, but last of all, a whole minute later, in front of the whole laughing crowd of the kingdom, and in front of the King, hustled the Knight who carried the kings colors.

How embarrassing! Can you imagine how that knight felt then? That knight was so mortified with shame, that off came the kings colors, and left off was the armor of a knight, and our hero went home and stayed inside too ashamed to be seen in the kingdom again.

Then one day, a knock came at the door of the knight’s house. It was the King himself! The knight blushed for shame. What could the king want with such a disgraceful, unworthy champion.

“I want you to come back into my service as my own personal assistant.” said the King.

“My Lord, why? Why would you want such a slow foot-soldier in your service? And why would you have ME run in the race wearing your colors?”

The king answered, “I have watched you fight so hard to prove to everyone and yourself that you are worthy of admiration and love, but I organized the race to teach you that love is something you cannot win. Love is a gift. I do not love you because you’re the best. I choose you and love you because I see your heart and I treasure it. You will be my errand runner if you will accept my love.”

The knight was speechless and from somewhere deep inside tears streamed down. The King came near and embraced the knight. From that day on, the champion happily became personal assistant for the King and did not care about being the best fighter or the fastest, because of this truth: he was loved just for him.

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This story is was written for a friend who I recognized was struggling with tendencies to cover feelings of unworthiness with achievement. The ending can also read: she was loved just for her.