Living each day much muchier
I love walking through the ruins of ancient cathedrals. The air has a quiet stillness. Birds wheel and cry and perch high above in vigilant watch for food and danger. Moss covered, tumbled stones sit in the muddy grass. The sweeping curve of an arch still reaches for the sky, exposed to the wind and rain. Tiny creatures seek shelter and homes to raise their young.
We built lofty heights and stained glass windows as a testament to God. It described in stone and glass what divinity feels like inside. It is an invisible, arcane expanse of wonder and beauty. Words are not enough. Music is not enough. The space itself inspired people to lift their gaze from the daily fracas and seek a purpose and a destiny, to lead a richer and fuller life.
I went to London Hillsong in the lead up to Easter. It was an hour and a half of flashing lights, booming baselines and softly whispered worship in London’s theatrical West End. While the medium is modern, the artistry is the same. There is more to your life, it promises. Turn your eyes upward from your petty grievances and lusts and expect more.
Worship music praises God’s power and love, but it does something sneakily wonderful at the same time. It forces people to speak purpose into their lives, power over their problems and agree with one another, in community, that it shall be so. This is real love, they sang and jumped around, while the words ‘real love’ towered on the screen behind them.
I was moved. Faith is a powerful thing. Faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen (Hebrews 11-1 KJV)
Hands raised, eyes closed, hearts open, people submitted themselves to the idea that their life matters. Everything they do and the tiny, everyday choices that they make matter because they are more than just individuals pleasing themselves, their choices in life impact their loved ones, their neighbours and, through an extended network of the faithful, the world.
Faith is missing from our society. Even when we try to speak new purpose into our lives, postmodernity offers insufficient tools for the task. We write affirmations on the mirror. We share twee statements on facebook. We make New Year’s resolutions. We buy products and sign up to 30 day programs. We speak platitudes into each other’s lives that don’t mean anything, really, beyond well-meaning attempts to make each other feel better.
Inspiration is an idea. Belief is deciding that the idea is possible. Faith is acting on the idea, finding a way, doing whatever it takes because it shall be so. Too often, we stop at inspiration, nervously putting on the brakes, dismissing our ability or worth and closing the door on what’s possible. Belief and faith are powerful tools for change. Wield them with perseverance and your life will be extraordinary.
It struck me, as I stood there in the swaying crowd that pointed skyward and taunted the devil ‘not today’, that it’s strangely insecure to credit an external being, devil or deity, for the path of your life takes. It’s not God who changes people’s lives powerfully, or the devil for tempting or afflicting us, it’s each other.
We can lift ourselves, inspire and support those around us to greater fulfilment, or we can drag ourselves down and limit what others believe is possible.
It all comes back to what we speak with authority into our lives, over our obstacles and towards our destiny, and whether our friends say amen.
It has meant the world to me to have friends supporting me on GoFundMe to complete my novel. It wasn’t fate, the universe or God who made the novel happen. It wasn’t ‘my time’. It wasn’t luck. It was inspiration from people who made interesting, courageous choices before me (what we do matters), and then it was belief, faith and perseverance within a community that gave its resounding amen, so shall it be.
Most of us no longer visit cathedrals. When we lift our gaze on the city streets, we see corporate glass walls and squat, concrete, cost-effective reality. When we turn on the TV, we see impossible standards and advertisements.
We need that invisible, arcane expanse of beauty and wonder within us. The cathedral exists to remind us of that space, of who we are, and who we can be.
When you get faithless and backslidden, visit your cathedral, be it art, music, dance, words, mountains, the sea, or maybe even a real space of arches, stone and light. Look up. Lift your gaze from the daily fracas, find your tribe and speak something powerful into your life.
Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up.
Galatians 6: 9 NIV
Trouble won’t throw me, won’t break me
Won’t scare me no more
Fear must have thought I was faithless
When it came for my heart
‘Cause I got a song that will never die.
‘Not Today’ Hillsong United