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JPC Allen Writes

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Scripture Saturdays

Scripture Saturday — Last Thoughts on the Solar Eclipse

bible-998150_1280In the days leading up to the solar eclipse, my husband mentioned how extraordinary the phenomenon is. The moon is the perfect size to block the sun and leave the corona visible. Both the sun and the moon are the perfect distance from each other. According to Wikipedia in the article “solar eclipse”, if “the Moon were in a perfectly circular orbit, a little closer to Earth,  and in the same orbital plane, there would be total solar eclipses every month. However, since the Moon’s orbit it tilted at more than 5 degrees to the Earth’s orbit around the Sun, its shadow usually misses Earth.” To read more of this article, click here.

The eclipse reminds me that in God the Creator, He combines the Ultimate Scientist with the Ultimate Artist. Although the nature we see isn’t perfect due to death, it still functions with a beauty that makes us smile and catch our breath. Can you imagine what perfect nature will be like in the new heaven and new earth?

Perhaps we limit ourselves when we try to split science from art. Some inventions work, but we like the ones that work beautifully. An artist still has to understand the elements of his art. A sculptor must know how different materials behave under different applications and which one would be best to accomplish a particular work.

I am going to keep this in mind when I write. There is a “science” in writing — understanding parts of speech, word definitions, sentence structure — and I should take full advantage of that “science” so I can meld it with the art and creat something beautiful.

Scripture Saturdays

bible-450298_1280I’m sorry it’s been so long since I posted in this category. My time got away from me this summer and I have just now found it. Since Easter, I’ve been reading the Psalms and Proverbs.  I like the structure of the Psalms. The verses are usually a kind of couplet in which the same thing is described two different ways.

Psalm 37:1-2:

“Do not fret because of those who are evil or be envious of those who do wrong; for like the grass they will soon whither, like green plants they will soon die.”

I’m not sure where I read it, but a writer pointed out that because of this structure, the Psalms translate into any language. Its poetry isn’t dependent on rhyme.

Proverbs also uses this dual structure. Sometimes it does it the same way as the Psalms, such as in Chapter 17:17:

“A friend loves at all times, and a brother is born for a time of adversity.”

But many of the Proverbs are couplets that demonstrate an opposite.

Proverbs 14:23-24:

“All hard work brings a profit, but mere talk leads only to poverty.”

“The wealth of the wise is their crown, but the folly of fools yield folly.”

My favorite chapter in Proverbs is Chapter 30, “the Sayings of Agur”. It uses a structure only found in this chapter.

Proverbs 30:15-16:

“There are three things that are never satisfied, four that never say, ‘Enough!’: the grave, the barren womb, land, which is never satisfied with water, and fire, which never says, ‘Enough!'”

Proverbs 30:24:

“There are three thing that are stately in their stride, four that move with stately bearing: a lion, mighty among beasts, who retreats from nothing,; a strutting rooster, a he-goat, and king secure against revolt.”

I like how these list are constructed and would love to be able to write some with modern meanings. Now that I’ve found my time, maybe I will do that.

Here are some of my favorite verses from the Psalms:

Psalm 24:1:

“The earth is the Lord’s and everything in it, the world and all who live in it.

Psalm 24:7

“Lift up your heads, O you gates; be lifted up, your ancient doors, that the King of glory may come in.”  I like this verse because it is the first line of a hymn I grew up with.

Psalm 133:1, 3:

“How good and pleasant it is when brothers live together in unity!” “It is as if the dew of Hermon were falling on Mount Zion, for there the Lord bestows his blessing, even life forevermore.”

Psalm 121:1:

“I lift my eyes to the hill — where does my help come from? My help comes from the Lord, the Maker of heaven and earth.” I like this verse because I love mountains.

Scripture Saturday

flower-429645_1280What Easter Means to Me

I am trapped.

The boulder is heading straight for me and I know I can’t escape.  What good would it do anyway?

I’ve ended up in this exact situation before, too many times before, so why try to get away?

It’s my own stupid fault.  I finally get that.

There’s nothing I can do.

I huddle down against the impact, wondering how much this will hurt, wishing being truly sorry mattered.

I’m knocked to the ground.  But not by the boulder.

A man, a stranger, shoves me out of the way, and I just have time to look up and watch the boulder smash into him, shatter into a pile of rubble, and bury him.

I am too stunned to do anything but gape.  When I finally recover enough to move, the pile moves, too.  I stop, my eyes glued on the pile.

Flinging off the rocks, the man stands up.

I splutter, “B-b-but how?  But who?  But why?”

Brushing off the dust and dirt, the man gives me a huge grin and answers all my questions with one sentence.

“Dad sent me.”

Scripture Saturdays

hope-2046018_1280Still Hoping

I wanted to tell you how I was doing with giving up worrying and taking up hope for Lent.  Not very well is the answer.  I have been worrying a lot.  Not the stomach-sickening, paralyzing kind of worry, but the sneaky, persistent sort that makes me feel miserable before I can figure out why.

It is so alien to my nature to hope.  It feels false, like I am wearing an outfit I don’t like.  And our culture in general, in the arts specifically, equates hope with rose-colored glasses and chasing rainbows.  I can’t even estimate the number of times I have read that a TV series has “improved” because this season the storyline is darker, or an actor is excited her character has taken a dark turn.

I understand why artists turn to dark themes.  They believe that can get more dramatic mileage out of the destruction of a marriage than the restoration of one, out of a best friend’s betrayal than her faithfulness.

But it’s extremely difficult to live with such depressing expectations.  Since my feelings in this area often trick me, I will go with what I know, and what I know about hope I have found in the following verses:

Psalm 31:24: “Be strong and take heart, all you who hope in the Lord.”sun-622740_1280

Psalm 42:5: “Why are you downcast, O my soul?  Why so disturbed within me?  Put your hope in God, for I will yet praise him, my Savior and my God.”

Hebrews 6:19: “We have this hope as an anchor for the soul, firm and secure.”anchor-57748_1280

This is one I love Jeremiah 29:11: ” ‘For I know the plans I have for you,’ declares the Lord, ‘plans to proper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.'”

Yesterday I actively hoped instead of worried about a problem.  I felt my heart grow lighter.  I came to the conclusion that since neither hoping or worrying changes the outcome of a situation in reality, I might as well hope.  Like any other skill, I have to practice it.

Scripture Saturdays

fire-2116361_1280Why Should Christians Hope?

I said last week when I gave up worrying last Lent that I didn’t think to put something in it’s place.  I know now I need to hope.

In The Case For Hope, author Lee Strobel states the Bible mentions hope 97 times in the Old Testament and “83 in the New Testament”.  It’s clear God expects his people to be hopeful.  Why?  Because He is the ultimate hope.  Hoping in Him give us perfect love, complete forgiveness of our sins, and the joy of living with Him forever.  And in Jesus we have the example of what a person can be in a relationship with God.  We can’t be perfect like Jesus, but we have the hope God will change us to be more and more like His son.

So why do I have such a hard time hoping?

I think it’s a combination of physical wiring and and mental habit.  In the next week, I will try to rein in my my wild worries with a few strategies.  My focus will be Hebrews 13:6 “The Lord is my helper; I will not be afraid.”  I will also do try the following:

Imagine a positive outcome for a negative one.  I need to break my automatic response of imagining the worse.  That’s helpful when plotting fiction, but it’s a lousy way to live my life.

Become objective.  When I consider my worries, I will judge how likely they are to become reality, based on my past experiences.

I am reminded of a quote attributed to Mark Twain, “I’ve had a lot of worries in my life, most of which never happened.”

 

 

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