Sunday, March 13, 2011

Sunsets & Reconciliation with God ~

Hear from heaven, your dwelling place, and when you hear, forgive. 
1 Kings 8:30

Grace and love like mighty rivers
Poured incessant from above,
And heaven's peace and perfect justice
Kissed a guilty world in love.
                    ----Robert Lowry (1826-1899)

Today we're in Chapter 27 of Meeting God in Quiet Places: The Cotswold Parables by F. LaGard Smith. In this parable, sunsets represent reconciliation to God. LaGard says that "sunsets are a daily declaration of the majesty of God. They speak of infinite beauty and of the power of Him who created the incomparable realms of heaven and earth. They tell of God's greatness and, by comparison, my own smallness." What does he see in sunsets that we can also find? The gentleness that comes with getting older, a clearer meaning of life and loved ones, and an understanding of the end of a life of faith on earth and an expectation of a life to come. All of these are touching and meaningful, but there is an even more appealing image.

No writer captures the imagination as well as the psalmist, and in his vision of sunsets, he sees "heaven reaching down to kiss the earth, and in that rapturous moment bring peace." If the image of heaven kissing the earth is hard to grasp, think on these words of the psalmist: "Love and faithfulness meet together, righteousness and peace kiss each other. Faithfulness springs forth from the earth, and righteousness looks down from heaven." Beautiful imagery which brings God and man together, imagery which is at the heart of Christian's very essence caught in a sunset--heaven has kissed the earth! The King James version says that "Mercy and truth are met together." In other words, the truth of man's unrighteousness and sinfulness meets with God's mercy in the salvation of man.
Modern translations speak of "love and faithfulness" meeting together rather than "mercy and truth." But that doesn't mean, as we might think, that our faithfulness meets God's love. We are NOT faithful. We aren't good at keeping our promises to each other, much less to God. We fail miserably at keeping our marriage and other social contracts. In truth, it is God's faithfulness and merciful love that brings us peace. 

And here, I quote LaGard: "The peace of God is not the mere peace of tranquility, as in the 'peacefulness of the Cotswolds.' God's peace is harmony where there was disharmony; acceptance where there was rejection; rightness where there was wrongness. Because of God's own righteousness, whatever is wrong can be put right." And the source of God's righteousness is seen in His love and faithfulness.

And where is the love of God most profoundly seen? In the life and sacrificial death of Jesus Christ: "For God so loved the world that he gave His one and only Son!" Now that's an image we can all relate to! Christ dying for our sins is a phenomenal event which had been promised by God for centuries. Only God's faithfulness brought about the birth of Jesus. And with this event, God came near. Heaven and earth rejoiced. The heavenly hosts sang, "Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace to men on whom His favor rests." No longer was the abyss of sin standing between heaven and earth. Like the sunset kisses the earth, God had come down to earth, bringing peace between God and man--heaven kissing the earth. 

All of this is mysterious and full of wonder, but in searching for inner peace, we know that it can only be found in reconciliation with God. It is the death of Jesus Christ which makes this possible; we are no longer alienated by sin. Not that we won't have trouble in our lives, but that we can find inner peace in spite of our troubles. Because of God's love and faithfulness, we can even transform our troubles into triumph! And remember--a time is coming when we will have eternal peace living in the presence of God. In the meantime, let the sunsets you see each evening remind you that heaven is kissing the earth!

Have a wonderful Sunday!


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