The Long Journey Home: 2016’s Desires, Part 2!

“But the things that began to happen after that were so great and beautiful that I cannot write them.”

The last battleThe above quote is the way C.S. Lewis begins the closing pages of his final book in the Chronicles of Narnia Series, The Last Battle.  The Last Battle is my favorite of the Narnia series!  Lewis goes on to say – in painting his picture of heaven,  “And for us this is the end of all the stories, and we can most truly say that they all lived happily ever after. But for them it was only the beginning of the real story. All their life in this world and all their adventures in Narnia had only been the cover and the title page: now at last they were beginning Chapter One of the Great Story which no one on earth has read: which goes on for ever: in which every chapter is better than the one before.”†

I read each book in the Narnia series to my children when they were younger.  A couple of years ago, I picked up The Last Battle and read it again.  The final two chapters brought me to the brink of joy filled, hope saturated tears each time I read them.  I realize how formative Lewis has been in the growth of my picture of heaven.

To read Lewis is to be caught up in the final vision of John’s revelation, vividly detailed in Revelation 21:1 – 4,

Then I saw a new heaven and a new earth, for the first heaven and the first earth had passed away, and the sea was no more. And I saw the holy city, new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride adorned for her husband. And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, “Behold, the dwelling place of God is with man. He will dwell with them, and they will be his people, and God himself will be with them as their God. He will wipe away every tear from their eyes, and death shall be no more, neither shall there be mourning, nor crying, nor pain anymore, for the former things have passed away.

It is John’s vision of tomorrow which gives me hope for today.

It’s this vision which shapes my desires and aligns my heart in vital and life giving ways. As I enter 2016, this vision of John, so powerfully captured by Lewis (and others like Chesterton, Williams and Tolkien), has shaped the desires I long to develop and pursue.

I offered two of these desires in last week’s post.  This week I will briefly present the third. Ultimately, my hope is that – as you enter 2016 – these musings will cause you to pause and reflect on the trajectory of your own desires and consider where they are taking you! Ultimately, all of our desires, I believe, are fulfilled in Christ.  The One who is both their origin and aim.

My desire exploration began a few years ago when I discovered Ruth Haley Barton’s writing on Spiritual formation.  The discovery was so profound that God would use it to encourage Melissa and I to launch a church plant focused on Spiritual Formation and Soul Care!

The journey began with a simple question: “What do I desire – deeply want – or long for in this life?”  This question then became more pointed as I asked, “What do I desire – deeply want – or long for in 2016?”  I discovered Six Life Shaping Desires for 2016.  This week I will focus on the third:

In 2016 I have a desire to Behold Him – be captivated by Him – as the One who offers life for tomorrow and is life for today!

  • To Behold (bi-ˈhōld):  to perceive through sight or apprehension: see  or to gaze upon.
  • To Captivate (kap-tuh-veyt):  to attract and hold the attention or interest of, as by beauty or excellence; enchant. 

Fixing Our Eyes on Christ

I don’t know about you, but I rarely reflect on the power of those words in relationship to Christ.  Though I behold so many things, good things that require attention, my longing is to fix my gaze upon Christ so that from my gaze fixed upon Christ I can/will see all other things, people, situations and opportunities more clearly than before!  I have a sense that such focus will keep the attention off of myself.  As such I will likely become more open to the needs of those around me as well as receptive to the good they can bring to me!

The writer of Hebrews, in chapter 12:1-3, notes how such ‘fixation’ is a pathway toward spiritual health and wholenss that enables us to remain steadfast and stand strong in a world of shifting sand and roaring waves,

Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles. And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us, fixing our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of faith. For the joy set before him he endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. Consider him who endured such opposition from sinners, so that you will not grow weary and lose heart.

Focusing on Christ empowers us for the ‘long journey home.   He gives us the strength to run the race set before us.  We all have a race to run.  We’ve all been given talents, skills and gifts to steward for the good of others, to the glory of God. Focusing on Christ releases us from the baggage of sin which entangles and sets us on firm footing with a clear pathway ahead. Focusing on the Messiah is the antidote to the ‘I am ready to quit’ malady that often plagues our quick fix approach to modern day discipleship.

My desire is to behold – be captivated by – Christ in the year to come.  Doing so might just deliver me into the best year of my life!  Some patterns may have to be disrupted if my heart is to be renewed!

Perhaps you share similar desires!  If you are wondering where to begin, you might simply photocopy the  image below and utilize it as a launching pad for shaping/forming Godly desire.  Reflect on it in the morning, at mid day and just before bed.  This simple “Soul Care Practice” may empower you on your long journey home!

Soul Care Practice - Return To Me

Disrupting to Renew!

†C. S. Lewis, The Last Battle (Macmillan Publishing Company: New York, 1956) p. 183

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