I have always known there was a place in Christ where peace reigned, and where love conquered everything, and where that protective Hand of God restrained the most evil of tides. This is not a physical place—at least not yet—and only comes by the girding of one’s mind, and the tearing down of the strongholds of mistakes (sin), death, grief, and these debilitated bodies. God is more powerful than our Adversary, though it does not always seem this way. Perceptions rule, most of the time. Things can be fine, and we think they are not. Things can be at their worst, and we whistle along.
This is why Paul tells us to think on those things which are lovely and pure. It is hard to do. Walking by faith in a world of perception is like pressing a shovel into rock. Perception has its way of insisting upon its own delusion. It intrudes in living color and surround-sound. But there is a place in Christ that is a sheen of protection, an insulation against the hurt of things seen and heard. It is rare to find it. I don’t know if I have ever found it more than a handful of times in my life. This lack of perception fails to discourage the reality. Peace always lies on the leeward side of the iron curtain of perception. My inability to captain my own mind bothers not the peace. The peace only wonders why I am not with it.
Night came yesterday, as seems to happen frequently in this wicked eon. I was lying in bed. My phone was charging in a corner of the bedroom, lending the far wall a small, gray glow. The fan made pleasant white noise. The thoughts of the day wanted in, badly. They knocked and pressed the portals like the intruders of that city from which Abraham rescued
God lent me a brief advantage against this tide: the fan, the darkness, the
small, gray glow.
I perceived the anchor of the walls and the stability of the floor. My bedroom then became the bedroom of my childhood. This, in turn, became a wedge God’s spirit used to surpass present experience and transport me to the place spoken of by Paul—the place of the peace that surpasses understanding.
My eyes were open to the present room, but the room of the past came with a detail unremembered for years. In my waking vision, a summer breeze moved the multicolored, striped curtains in my bedroom; they blew in toward me. The plastic covers at the ends of the pull-cords clicked rhythmically against the wall. My sister Kelly’s room was down the hall.
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We lived in that house for over twenty years. It was the most stable home imaginable. I can still see and feel the wood grain on the interior doors. I can still see and feel the presence of my mother and father, both now dead. My mother is in the kitchen, putting something into an oven whose door squeaked, always, when opened and closed. (The oven was blue.) My father is the Rock of Gibraltar, a constant. The house has a basement, and I move my open palm up and down the cool, solid smoothness. Love is over everything, and in everything. It is always summer. The exterior of the refrigerator is white, the interior green. The shelves are fake gold, making us feel rich. I hear my friends tapping on the aluminum door off the garage, to come and play.
Mom always said, “Come in.” Everyone was always welcomed, none more than Kelly and me.
In my present room, I smile. At one point, I laugh. This was completely impossible just an hour before. But now, even that hour becomes crystalline. It has meaning and weight; it is necessary. It is—and was—meant to be. It is part of the whole, and thus had to come. As such, it is good. And thus, I see how the present can transform the past.
For several moments, I thought I was on the edge of the snatching away. I thought, “This is it.” I know Scripture says it will happen in an instant, but the instant is only the thing it happens in. What happens just before that? Is there a brief, sweet period of awareness? Anticipation? Are there a few moments available to embrace the last parts of this world, before flying into the next? Is it possible that memories like this come flooding in? Is it possible that all pain becomes justified and a necessary coin in the new currency? Does all evil and pain gently float away like fall snowflakes blown from a porch railing?
I breathed, but without thinking. The vision and peace settled. These did not go away, but only settled. My life had flashed before me. It was not yet time for the snatching away. This morning, writing in the still dark of the night just passed, I believe it was a foretaste.
I think all of this came in the wake of the spirit of forgiveness. There is such power in this. We hold on to so many things; it is only human—but this is the old humanity. The foreign thing—the new humanity—is letting go, and not only letting go, but thinking good, returning good, and being good.
Think of a world where this flows out from us, and comes back in like measure. God knows, we all need it. I wonder if this is the definition of love.
In the peace, I prayed for everyone. I prayed for my mom and dad, and for my sister. I prayed for my sons. I prayed for my wife Rebecca. I prayed for every person in the world. I was no longer fighting against flesh and blood; I was no longer fighting at all. Evil comes from the Adversary, but the Adversary comes from God. All is of God. One day, this will be my constant apprehension. For now, I can only embrace it when it comes. I hope to embrace it more often.
We lived life in the house I grew up in at face value. Things that were, were. And if they weren’t, they weren’t. Life this way is so easy to live. It comes in and out so naturally, like a breeze moving summer drapery. I credit this, today, to the blocks of that basement, to the smooth wood, and to the man and the woman who fashioned such a dream for themselves, for the God they knew, and for the two sacred beings, brought into this world, by their steadfast love.
© 2012 by Martin Zender
© 2012 by Martin Zender