A Contrast

It’s the great mystery of human life that old grief passes gradually into quiet, tender joy. The mild serenity of age takes the place of the riotous blood of youth. I bless the rising sun each day, and, as before, my heart sings to meet it, but now I love even more its setting, its long slanting rays and the soft, tender, gentle memories that come with them, the dear images from the whole of my long, happy life-and over all the Divine Truth, softening, reconciling, forgiving! My life is ending, I know that well, but every day that is left me I feel how earthly life is in touch with a new infinite, unknown, but approaching life, the nearness of which sets my soul quivering with rapture, my mind glowing and my heart weeping with joy.

~ Dostoevsky, Brothers Karamazov, Book IV “The Russian Monk,” Chapter 1 “Father Zossima and His Visitors”

This paragraph is reminiscent of what the poet William Wordsworth would have called “sensations sweet, felt in the blood”. The blend of memory, grace, and glory rolled into the metaphor of life as a rising and setting sun captures both the poignancy and the “deep power of joy” Wordsworth wrote of in Lines Composed a Few Miles Above Tintern Abbey… 

Seeing Into the Life of Things

Like Dostoevsky’s Father Zossima, Wordsworth wrote of the glory of nature, its power to subdue the heart, to summon memory- the sublime and blessed memories that lead us with their aching joys and dizzy raptures.

Wordsworth and Dostoevsky also give hope of an old age to come, accompanied by sober pleasures, elevated thoughts- an autumn characterized by a mature love of quietness and beauty. No longer swimming in the throes of thoughtless youth, we will celebrate “our cheerful faith: that life is full of blessings.” Serenely, we accept our setting sun, seeing the joy and peace of our souls sustaining our beloved through their portion of “solitude, or fear, or pain, or grief.”

But another influence clamors for attention. There are more ways to look at time, aging, and death. It rages and warns in a whisper. Dylan Thomas:

Do not go gentle into that good night,
Old age should burn and rave at close of day;
Rage, rage against the dying of the light.

Though wise men at their end know dark is right,
Because their words had forked no lightning they
Do not go gentle into that good night.

Good men, the last wave by, crying how bright
Their frail deeds might have danced in a green bay,
Rage, rage against the dying of the light.

Wild men who caught and sang the sun in flight,
And learn, too late, they grieved it on its way,
Do not go gentle into that good night.

Grave men, near death, who see with blinding sight
Blind eyes could blaze like meteors and be gay,
Rage, rage against the dying of the light.

And you, my father, there on the sad height,
Curse, bless, me now with your fierce tears, I pray.
Do not go gentle into that good night.
Rage, rage against the dying of the light.

A sobering contrast only the hubris of youth could ignore.

Our Fellowship, Our Joy

This post is by Rich Powell, pastor of Grace Bible Church in Winston Salem, NC. You can find out more about him here or hear his expositions of Scripture at gbcnc.org. Reprinted with the gracious permission of the author.

 

Because of his encounter with the incarnate Son of God, John was compelled to broadcast this wonderful One to us and all who would hear.

That which we have seen and heard we declare to you, that you also may have fellowship with us; and truly our fellowship is with the Father and with His Son Jesus Christ.

And these things we write to you that your joy may be full.

The apostle makes the point that joy and fellowship are inextricably linked. God is the source of joy. The God/man is the means of appropriating that joy through our relationship to Him and then with His people.

As believers, each of us has been baptized into the body of Christ.  The body is vital connection and interdependence with coordinated work upon command from the head (Christ). While there is a common mission for the church there is also a common divine objective for each member of the body- the unity of the faith, and of the knowledge of the Son of God, to a mature man, to the measure of the stature which belongs to the fullness of Christ- our joy!

COACHING-1Being conformed to Christ’s image is not something that is done alone. The mind of Christ and the law of Christ require investment with regard to others. Each of us plays an integral role in the spiritual growth (the joy of becoming like Christ) of the other. Our lasting joy in the Lord is proportionate to our maturity in the Lord and love of/fellowship with His people.

This is why the apostle Paul told the Corinthian believers that they were fellow workers for your joy. Fellowship is what the apostle John did- the blessing he received from God he shared with those around him. What has been entrusted to you (God’s blessings) is for the express purpose of contributing to the joy of others.