Among the seven ancient wonders of the world - the famed lighthouse - Pharos of Alexandria (around 260BC - until 1300AD) was the only utilitarian ancient wonder - a light - built to warn passing ships of the treacherous waters off that city's port. Seafaring and shipping trade was probably as essential to civilization as we know as fire or language. This huge lighthouse was the brain-child of an ancient think-tank called the "mouseian" and financially backed by Sostrates of Knidos who secured the 800 talent project (aka: about $3 million today). Pharos - at about 450 feet tall - was second in height only to the Great Pyramid of Giza and withstood the forces of the Mediterranean for an incredible 16 centuries - including according to research into the remains - now accessible only via scuba diving - 22 earthquakes. During the day a polished metal disk reflected the sunlight out over the water. At night - dung fires burned so brightly that some ship captains claimed the light was visible for 100 miles. Since modern light houses can't be seen quite that far (due to the curvature of the earth and the limitations of lighting technology - so the Cape L'Agulhas lighthouse in South Africa at just 33' high - but located 238' above sea level is only visible for 50 miles - so maybe they smelled it?) Regardless of ancient exaggerations - there was nothing like Pharos anywhere else on earth and the idea of a light warning passing ships of dangerous waters spread everywhere to the degree that in many languages the Pharos became the root of their word for lighthouse.
Yet I can't shake the conviction that the potential for durability and light-shedding capability of God's great Love and Grace streaming out onto our lives could have an even greater impact. People are everywhere - Imagine living in a world where we'd all shine guiding lights of God's love to those around as a natural extension of our own deep and abiding connection to God's Grace and Love? Could we live so connected and rooted in God's Love that the abundant over-flowing of our hearts (Luke 6:45) would be God's reflected back out onto the world? Isn't that the point of the song we sang in Sunday school - "This Little Light of Mine"? - that we can take Jesus' light with us everywhere we go? There are certainly treacherous waters - and such friendly lights would make the navigating better.
In Wednesday's post on the Grace Habit I intentionally put the word "Darkness" into the post title - not because I believe my life is/was ever the darkest of the dark - but because how can any life lived with less of God's love and Grace than we can hold be described any other way?
However much some might say "people don't change" about this person or that person - the truth is we observe people changing all the time ... and it is invariably love that produces the most powerfully life-and-light giving positive changes. The loner changes when they find the acceptance of a group of friends. The young adult changes when they meet the love of their life. The new parent changes the first time that tiny hand grips their finger. Those who suffer through the heavy and negative changes of trauma of one kind or another - find that the moving on from trauma is most aided by movement from the trauma of loss - into the life-giving boon of stepping into love and grace. The few sentences above comprise some of the "17 potential plot lines" behind every book, play, movie ever written. How - just wrong would the clip below be if Melvin Udall were merely brown-nosing a two-bit publisher? But as it is - we can deeply relate to wanting not just show our best - but be our brightest, most colorful, strongest version of ourselves to those we love most.
Can you imagine - say - a movie where the main character is motivated to risk it all and against all odds give themselves down to their last ounce in order to ... please a grouchy coach? Or make the angry boss happy? Who would put their life on the line for that potential mate - who'll never return that affection? These aren't just bad plot lines - they're the basis of psychological thrillers! Surely we know that it is love, it's always been love - I'm not sure it can be anything but love that has sufficient strength and light to compel us to rise above, outlast all hardship, and be the best version possible of who God made us to be. If the loves of our lives can impact us this way, if our pets - for crying in the dishes - can have this influence on us even - then imagine how much light we deny when we respond only to God's "stick" and turn a deaf ear to His "carrot" - despite the fact we'd be horrified if those around us viewed us this way.
The loss of light or increase of darkness is literally incalculable. And everything I've ever read suggests that among the many benefits to love - love makes us much more resilient to life's bumps and tumbles. It's like aloe-vera for our souls to have confidence in our worth suggests that besides the awesomeness of all that - the growing cumulative impact of the above is that we become more resilient. Resiliency. Resiliency is defined as the capacity to recover quickly. It's like elasticity. When we talk about "bouncing back" - we're describing resiliency.
Imagine you can engage in ... well ... anything ... and be a little more resilient later today. Imagine that increased resilience could even stretch into tomorrow. I think this is the basis of the entire adult coloring book thing ... which by the way ... is cool. Imagine engaging in such a thing for say ... a week ... or a month? Or a decade?
Point made - eh?
Fair 'nuff ... how about a completely, just off this rock kind of idea?
Here's a WILD idea? What if you finished not just today with more resilience ... but the summer - the decade. What if within short order you were going about your day - not depleted of love - but topped off. What if instead of starting your day dreading the negativity and damage that perhaps was awaiting around every other interaction - instead you were going about fresh from dozens if not hundreds of experiences of feeling not only lifted of each day's burdens - but filled to capacity with God's Love and Grace? What if our souls feasted daily on God's love? At what point along that trajectory would you start to have wildly different conversations with the people you share your life with? At what point would you start to have wildly different conversations with God? What would you pray for - if you felt full of His love - understood all the little verbal and literal slings and arrows we encounter day to day to be about those people - and took them as motivations to pray for them? What would we say to encourage one another if even just 10% of those in our faith community were as lifted as Jesus wants to lift us? What if we could serve the world from a faith that isn't daily performing triage on us before we can really absorb a single truth from God? I'm not suggesting that if we practice the Grace Habit we'd never have a bad day again ... I am suggesting that we'd have fewer bad days of our own making ... that there'd be less of all the things that tend to muddy the waters and confuse God's work in our lives. I'm just wondering.
After 1,000 days of practicing the Grace Habit in my own life - I am just floored by the difference it's made. I absolutely salivate at the idea of a decade of this - or a generation raised not only with such a piercing light of Love - but without the self-inflicted torture of uncertainty, confusion, insufficiency. If - as James 1:20 suggest - the anger of man cannot achieve the righteousness of God - how much less can love-starved soul of man achieve God's best? At this point I'm much less curious about what it might be like - and much more focused on how can I have a taste of that life now. God, the most powerful force in the universe sees you at your best at all times - and longs to teach you to think as He does - to see everyone as He does. If you know of a better way to experience that than the Grace Habit - I insist you call me right now to tell me. I need to know. Thanks!