Sunday, October 23, 2005

The world is too much with us

The world is too much with us; late and soon
Getting and spending, we lay waste our powers;
Little we see in Nature that is ours;
We have given our hearts away, a sordid boon!
-excerpt from Wm. Wordsworth 1802-1804

Come August, we face the daunting possibility of packing up our lives in Manly for a new life in Canada. Talking and dreaming about this move – the opportunities for study, things to see, friends to make – wakes a great deal of excitement for what will come. This view toward a new (and hopefully good) future also makes the dullness of year 8 and insolence of year 9 tolerable as, thankfully, it too will pass and the end is in sight. But thoughts of leaving dear friends in Sydney and the sunny, colourful world of Manly are sad. As these warring emotions compete for our attention, this desire to be so firmly rooted in Manly doesn’t dull the eagerness of moving, just as expectancy of life in Vancouver doesn’t dampen our desire to be in Manly. Consequently, we are trapped in paradoxical emotions that breed a deep desire to live life in a fully present and anticipatory way.

An old saying speaks of some Christians, “they are so heavenly minded, they are no earthly good”. Many, especially in earlier generations of believers, were keenly focused on Heaven, often to the detriment of their work in the world around them. In my experience, we seldom speak of Heaven, apart from evangelical situations where we are warning people off Hell and offering them Heaven. We have cast aside streets of gold and pearly gates for less concrete, albeit theologically sounder, ideas of Heaven and consequently, we speak very little of where we are headed, making me wonder if we are not so earthly minded that we are simply no good. Perhaps Wordsworth had it right. We see only what is before us – the job, the purchases – and we believe it will go on forever, which makes us blind to the real, and very passing, world that is around us.

This week, while reading through 1+2 Thessalonians and 1+2 Timothy, we noticed that Paul repeatedly reminds the early believers of their life to come in Heaven. They are to be faithful and focused on the end result of Life with Christ, the reality of which we only glimpse here on earth. This is because, as the Church, we ought to be keenly longing for that which awaits us. But this excitement is the sort that should open our eyes to the reality of now, to our short lives here. We should, as we look toward our upcoming promotion, live with the intensity of a people who know their days are numbered. Instead, we speak little of heaven and seldom encourage each other with visions of our future. The result? The world is too much with us. We spend our days wastefully, unconcerned with our very real scarcity of time. We fail to enjoy our families, friends, nature, food, drink, sex, with holy appreciation, always figuring there will be time tomorrow. We live with little anticipation or joy toward the future because we have forgotten where we are going. Perhaps if we, like those before us, encouraged each other with “the Lord Himself will descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of an archangel, and with the trumpet of God. And the dead in Christ will rise first. Then we who are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air. And thus we shall always be with the Lord” (1 Thes. 16-17) we would begin to feel the excitement of the future and taste the joy of today.

the journey continues ...

Dear Brothers & Sisters,

We have been back in Sydney for a week now after a great time away in North America. Our time with family in California was very special! Many great Mexican meals, world-class national parks (Yosemite + Joshua Tree), roller coasters, outlet shopping, driving California freeways, In-n-Out Burgers and flying remote-controlled airplanes were excellent ways to spend some really special time with our North-American family. The time was less relaxed than planned, but we enjoyed every bit of it!

For those who prayed for us while we were away, especially regarding our possible future at Regent College – THANK YOU! We were also very touched by the encouraging emails from all around the world, the phone calls, SMS’s, face-to-face conversations and even a returned letter with a waxed seal! Thank you all!

We do feel that those prayers and encouragements were not ignored by our good Lord. We had a challenging but good time in Vancouver exploring our future at Regent. We were encouraged by the conversations we had with students about their experiences of the college and Regent community, plus their willingness to share with us. The faculty and admissions people we met with were so good to us as well, praying over us as we were exploring the opportunities. Also a big thank you to our Aussie friends in Vancouver who we stayed with and met up with while we were there – all who were really supportive of us as we talked through their experience of the college and life in Vancouver in general.

While we did not hear an audible divine call (although the sun was shining on our first day there!), we certainly felt that Regent seemed like a really good place to be and to continue our journey with Lord, being trained for whatever and wherever He may take take us beyond our time there. We feel like the Lord has been doing a lot in us already to get us to this point and physically across the world to the college. The next step is to submit our application by the end of the year to potentially start our studies in September 2006. One step at a time is a good for us as our fears about going and leaving our lives in Sydney behind still remain.

Can we ask you to keep journeying with us as we continue along this path – with your prayers, insights and encouragements.

May the Lord’s blessings be with you all ...
Andrew & Jessica