There was a time in my life when I’d look at the idyllic scenes in the lives of others, I’d see their seeming peace, and I’d seek to copy the circumstances of that peace in my own life. If I had the same pitcher…If I baked the same bread…wore the same costume, then maybe, just maybe…
But therein lies the problem, when we try to get our marching orders by comparing our life to others instead of from the Captain of our Salvation. Besides the fact that each believer is a unique reflection of God’s glory with their own gifts and talents, we all also have our own race to run, and the places of our starting lines and finish lines vary. There are scriptural principles that apply to everybody’s situation, but only One Spirit that knows how and when to apply them to the lives of individual believers. Sanctification is not instantaneous, and we run a risk of shipwrecking each other, or ourselves, when we expect uniformity.
The image I’ve added to this post is a painting by Vermeer. The other day I was looking at it and realized, the artist wasn’t particularly trying to capture the circumstances of the individual, but rather the play of the light. Vermeer was all about the light, and we should be to.
The play of the light is why it is said that Mary, sitting at Jesus’ feet, choose the better thing. A life of inner illumination is the basis, is the bedrock foundation, of biblical submission. For the monk, the wife, the priest, the miller, the miller’s daughter, for all christian children and ministers of the gospel in every place:the subject of the scene is the play of the light.
Contemplation is one way we can stop and see the play of light in our own life and circumstances. It may be as simple as taking a moment in nature to hear the testimony of sunshine. It could be intentional moments throughout the day meditating on the words of a favorite scripture passage, or writing a list of things we are thankful for. However we do it, we stop in the midst of whatever we are doing to acknowledge the ever present, all sustaining hand of God.
And suddenly, we don’t need to feel like it all relies on us, or one some other savior we’ve put in the place of Christ. A person attuned to the voice of the Beloved can thrive in any place, in any circumstance. Without that inner acknowledgment of goodness and presence, even sweet things will seem sour.
In the moment, in every moment, this truth remains, and light plays in every place where it is acknowledged: the Lord is my shepherd, I shall not want.