Monday, November 22, 2004



I had a very hard time writing the "What's Wrong With My Heart?" story. The problem has shown up in other recent stories: words aren't subtle enough to convey the meaning that shines in my mind.

I've known this for a long time. In longer stories I can get around the problem by introducing other peripheral stories, and the whole suite combines to put across the complex of ideas that I want. Blog entries, being short, don't have that option for multiple tracks to meaning. The limitations of words have become clearer.

Some time back I read Chuck Smith's "Charisma Or Charismania?" on the Calvary Chapel Web site. The story is about the Holy Spirit and His gifts, with some emphasis on speaking in tongues. The most surprising part for me was his description of a private prayer language. Apparently people are given this language because ordinary language can't carry the meaning that the Holy Spirit knows the person wants to speak to God.

At the time I couldn't understand. What's the point? I want to know what I'm saying! If only to make sure I'm not being taken for a ride. Now I'm more trusting and this idea makes more sense. Experience has an effect. There have been times I've wanted to say something to God and just haven't had the words.

Usually I say things like this in sand. Images are my native language but they can't be communicated to other people, unless I make a sculpture. The sand sculpture speaks very clearly but many people don't understand. This isn't surprising, as we're taught that only words are language. But what of all the stars that speak of God's glory, the flowers that speak of His desire for beauty? One flower beats thousands of words, but few will take the time to try to understand.

So, I'm stuck with words. Fitting what I feel about discipline, God's caring, and His interest in me into one Blog message is like making fine sculpture with a spade. It's a good tool, but too coarse. Life is made in subtle components, although our noisy and busy culture would deny this. Subtlety is what allows us to discriminate between fine flavors and scents, or the changes in the light as the sun approaches the horizon. If you've watched many sunsets and looked at the light, you know exactly what I mean. If you haven't, no amount of video or photographs or words will convey the distinction that makes each sunset unique. You'll get an idea, and you'll get my word on it, but you won't have the reality.

People who have been browbeaten into submitting to the kind of God most churches worship are going to have a very hard time trusting Him with any of the subtle parts of their lives. Why express those parts when they aren't respected? Self-expression is reduced to the minimum, and prayer becomes a mechanical act.

God made subtlety. He made us to be subtle, with senses that can make such fine discrimination that we can pick up subconscious hints about our surroundings. We're taught to ignore these, taught that these are sensor aberrations. Why? Because only the Holy Spirit gives us the strength to experience these subtle events and keep from going crazy in our noisy world. Believe me, it does take strength to believe in subtlety these days. Just ask Nate, who is fighting tooth and nail to keep his Christmas story from being taken over by the Hollywood detail-smashers.

Discipline is frequently used as a tool to remove diversity and level out sensory overload. God made diversity and He made our senses. He will give us the ability to handle what those senses give us.

We need to start over. I need to learn His languages so that I can understand His world. We see only the surface. I want to go deeper. Maybe this is why my sculptures are always hollow, with structures hidden inside.

Maybe this is why God gives us a spirit of courage. Self-expression requires experimentation, with the probability of making mistakes. And a spirit of discipline so we stick with it and don't just give up. And self-expression is important! How else can I get any idea of anyone else's world? I don't have a monopoly on truth, and knowing what the world looks like to someone else enriches mine. Presumably I enrich other people's. Every time I make a sculpture, some random person will look at it for a time and then say "Thank you" to me.

Discipline will never do that. Although the sculpture would never work without discipline, the beauty that people see is its own delicate entity whose foundation includes discipline. Trying to toe the line that God refuses to put before us will never get us there. We need to know God in His truth, not as men portray Him. I need to walk with Him, let Him hold my hand, and quit being so afraid that He will judge me for my mistakes.

Great insights!

Sometimes words just are not adequate. What to do then? I, like you am a visual person. I've found my prayer life takes on that aspect. I "see" in my mind. I see Jesus so clearly that I'd swear He was a three-dimensional person occupying space in my vicinity.

Some may argue it's only my imagination. But I know different. I see Jesus do things that I would never imagine Him doing: kneeling before me, as a dad does to a child, sitting at my feet, kneeling beside me... the other day during my counseling session, I swear He was kneeling beside me as I sat in the chair, and took hold of my hand at one crucial point. At another point, He was standing over me, hands on my shoulders, kissing the top of my head... who in their right mind would EVER imagine the Almighty God doing such a thing??

Not me. That's one way I know it's God... Perhaps images are my "prayer language"... I don't know. But there have been many times I haven't spoken a word, nor have I heard any from God, yet we communed together, deeply.

PS --- I liked your insight into why perhaps your scultures have inside complexity and texture to them... made me want to look more closely at all the photos you've sent and just soak up the complexity and depth of God.
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