by Paul Jordan
When I was a student I often found myself at parties with other students. Sitting around, playing guitar, drinking beer, laughing, listening to music.
The patter at such parties was usually not profound. It was mainly fun. Joking. At times, various ones of us would formulate opinions and make outrageous statements. Sometimes weíd argue with one another until we realised we didnít quite know what we were talking about. Someone would capsize the conversation with a joke and we would dissolve into laughter. Laughing at the joke, the situation, ourselves.
Occasionally however I came across someone who was different. Someone who conversed. Someone who put questions in front of me. Where are you from? What do you think? Where are you going? Someone who seemed less interested in the chatter but personally interested in me.
Perhaps you know those people. People who donít give answers or opinions but give questions. People whose very lives are question marks. People who, when you look at them, you canít help but wonder: ĎWhat makes this person tick?í They have a hope and they are always ready to account for it. Have you ever met someone like that? If you have, you would know because you would have examined your own life as a result. What is my life about? Good question.
The painting drew me in, the first time I met it. It was like meeting one of these people. The image was strange. What is taking place in this painting? It was clear to me there was something holy about it. Because it was like nothing Iíd ever seen before.
And it had something to do with God.
I desperately wanted to know what
was going on with this man in the painting. What was going through his
head? Why was he here? Alone? Gazing up to the heavens. What was it that
he had that I didnít?
A few months ago I was in an 18th century church in southern Germany. It caught the end of the ostentatious baroque era. Itís impressive. One of those churches that as you enter, you canít help but feel that you are walking into a new reality.
Awesome in the true sense of the word.
Hugely ornate. Maybe too much some might say. Colour and gold and paintings and frescos. One is almost taken aback Ė like in a throne room of old.
Itís unusual to find a mirror in a church but there is a mirror in this church. It is located right in the middle of the centre aisle and is fixed on a huge hinge.
For some time I was looking at this mirror. It was a fine piece. Quite beautifully made. Mounted on an ornate wooden frame. I wondered for a moment what its purpose was.
Then for some reason, my focus happened to shift slightly. What I saw was no longer the mirror itself but the reflected beauty of the intricate paintings of the ceiling.
I understood. That is the purpose of the mirror. To reflect. To make it easier for me to admire the frescos without straining my neck.
Perhaps I should do that more often. I meet people every day. I seldom think to see the reflection of the Creator in them. Perhaps I should also see the Creatorís fingerprints on my own life.
The manís arms are outstretched.
I wonder if he is offering back to God what belongs to God.
Look at the man in the picture again. No matter how hard you try, you canít get away from the fact that his eyes are on the heavens. Heís looking upwards. His mind is on that which is above. Not on the earth.
The Bible says that Christians are really living for another homeland. Christians live with their eyes set on the things that are above. Itís almost like this life is just a short childhood. Itís like waiting in the airport terminal. True life begins when you get home.
Itís amazing. But I find that if I manage to look up and fix my eyes on the heavens, and if I believe, I notice a new stillness. I notice that my concerns and fears somehow take on a different light and I find myself longing more and more for the summit.
Life is passing quickly after all.
[Paul Jordan is the Regional
Director of Kairos in
Europe and the Middle-East, an international movement of youth and
student outreaches of the Sword
of the Spirit. This article is excerpted from Paul's new book,
published by the European Region of the Sword of the Spirit, (c) copyright
2007. Used by permission of the author.]
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