“Leviticus 19:2″ – Ink on paper. 15″ x 15” March, 2015. 19 signed prints.
He was not the light, but came to bear witness about the light.
He never solved that singular autobiographic thing.
Was his witness a strange math erased into paper?
And where does the light enter in?
Sister/brother, you will bear witness to your witness.
Likewise, John has his John and distrusts John still
Trusting the one to whom John bore witness not John.
So also John looked up and saw another John
Standing in the river as if in a shard of mirror. Beloved
As the deer looks to the water brooks
Even shattered glass will reflect the light.
He came as a witness, to bear witness about the light, that all might believe through him.
There was a man sent from God, whose name was John.
Graced by YHWH. YHWH is gracious.
The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it.
Within the heart, is a spark. Without the spark, the heart is not a heart.
In him was life, and the life was the light of men.
Life is light. Where there is light, there is life. And where there is life, there is God.
All things were made through him, and without him was not anything made that was made.
Particle of Particles is the Word.
Multiverse of Multiverses is the Word.
Emptiness of Emptinesses is the Word.
Fullness of Fullnesses is the Word.
Magnitude of Magnitudes is the Word.
All made. All unmade. All never made is the Word.
He was in the beginning with God.
The Mystery of Master is Servant.
The Mystery of Head is Body.
The Mystery of Beginning is Image.
The Mystery of Him is Her.
In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.
From rest God creates unto rest. Our struggle is to enter the rest of all beginnings.
The Word marks the rest of all beginnings, but this is not the beginning of the Word.
The Word has no beginning, no ending. From rest God creates unto rest.
Our struggle is to enter the rest, falling because we cannot rest…
piercing to the division of soul and of spirit, of joints and of marrow, and discerning the thoughts and intentions of the heart…
This is also the rest of all beginnings.
Helmet, lights, ABC Quick Check… every time I go riding I say a little prayer. I’ve worked in hospitals too long to not get those phantom flashes of carnage, not to notice the broken glass and twisted metal on the side of the road. An older cyclist once told me: there’s only two kinds of bikers—those who have been hit and those who are going to be hit. That’s a weighty matter to consider for a family man. I’ve got a wife and kid at home. Why do I get on my bike and ride from the suburbs into the ganglands of North Memphis?—what’s the benefit of that risk?
As weighty as it is—and I’m not immune to the heaviness—there’s another weight that compels me back onto my bike, that sends me out onto the streets, white knuckling down poorly paved roads, watching over my shoulder for the car with my number, watching the skies for rain.
I feel the weight of automobiles—the toll on our lives of noise, pollution, crashes, oil wars, all the garbage of the instant society fostered by cars. I’ve felt this weight for a long time. I was the only kid in my high school that put off getting a driver’s license. I just wanted to keep on biking. I don’t like car culture. I don’t think new cars are cool. There’s nothing that gets me down like a town engineered only for automobiles. Where are the people in that landscape? Worse still, the whole car as status symbol thing, it’s morally repugnant, and yet the moment I start talking about this stuff, most everybody thinks I’m a nut, up on my soapbox…
Take a moment and imagine a world with far, far fewer cars, picture the family generations safely biking to the market, listen to the birds singing in the trees (without the ambient engine roar), smell the air (unpolluted by carbon monoxide), just flowers and trees and rivers. I know I sound like a crazy hippy, but that vision of life is worth so much more to me than having a little box I can jump in and incinerate the air to get me wherever I’m going without messing up my stupid hair.
In other words, I’m talking about the Faustian proposition of the automobile. There’s a part of the weight I feel that isn’t “healthy.” That isn’t “Christian.” But then again neither is the alternative. And really screw the automobile. Screw our dependence on it.
God has given us this world as a gift (Genesis 1:27-31). He’s the artist creating the world’s renewal (Revelations 21:1-7). It is this understanding of scripture that propels my hopes for a biking ministry in Memphis—a town that really couldn’t care less about commuter cycling.
We are made in God’s image, and someday God’s heavenly city will descend to us. Is it crazy to think there won’t be pollution in the heavenly city?—there won’t be cars? That that most basic need of transportation will be fulfilled in more novel and creative ways than the gasoline engine?—that the hope for less wasteful modes of transportation here and now is also a pursuit of God’s peace for humankind? These are my prayers. There are times I feel completely alone in praying them.
I don’t have any easy answers to this part of my calling. In fact, I don’t know that I want there to be an easy answer to this one. I’ve learned that there’s a lot of people who show up at the bike shop because they read something in the news or whatever and—who knows why they come?—guilt, good intentions, misplaced hopes? They say, I’ll be back Saturday, but Saturday roles around, and they’re not there.
My question is who do we think we’re fooling? Do we really think God isn’t going to notice the lie? Do we think good intentions are good enough? Do we think a misplaced hope is still magically true hope? It weighs on me, and what I don’t know right now is how Christ would respond to such a wishy-washy dedication. I have a feeling it doesn’t need to be a very polite response.
Lord, help us to repent of our assumptions and ambitions of mission. There are no assumptions in a mission. Assumptions cloud the vision. There are no ambitions in a mission. Ambitions kill prayers.
A mission is first of all feeling your weight. Whatever weight God dropped on your heart. Really get acquainted with the burden. That weight is what nailed Emmanuel to the tree. Christ suffered and die and absorbed that weight, far more than I can ever understand. He absorbed the weight—went deeper and deeper into the burden—until he was weightless. What he accomplished was an infinity of insignificance, a selflessness so divine and righteous as to be mystery worthy of endless praise.
Christ defeated sin, death, and evil—and then he tossed the weight right back on me. He said, look I’m not taking that thorn out of your side, just know it’s going to be an all-out slugfest, a real fight, but no evil will enter into the struggle. He said, look, don’t shirk your load, within that weight, is the secret to the mystery of resurrection. Within the burden that I feel for my city, for my neighbor, for my family, for this old world, is the love that can find it’s fulfillment only in Christ. This what a prayer for redemption means.
The thing is I have to really feel the weight. No one else can feel my weight for me. I might feel totally alone in feeling the weight, but Chris knows my burden infinitely more. Without Christ, I would be crushed completely. So, I’m not alone even when no one gets the whole biking ministry thing. No one got Christ. Why would I expect them to get me and my bike?
Gracious Lord Jesus protect me as I go biking today. Guard me and my bike from cars. Guard my heart from ambitions and assumptions. Guard my mission from mediocrity. Lord, let me feel your love even, especially within the weight I feel for this world.