August 4, 2012

Like Ripples . . .

It seems part of my nature to beat myself up when I think I have failed, and often when I don’t. I suspect most people are not satisfied with themselves, and whether that dissatisfaction expresses itself in bragging (to compensate) or bemoaning (fishing for affirmation), everyone needs assurance of their value.
When Jesus Christ came into my life, He gave me a new nature. The old is still there, dead to God but alive to sin. I’m supposed to consider it dead and put it off, not allowing it to rule my thoughts, words or actions. Instead, I’m to put on the new life God has given me. This new life has no problem with self-esteem for God created it. Self-pity and boasting are activities of the old nature and no longer needed. Instead, I am to pay attention to what God says about me and base my worth on His Word.
For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them. (Ephesians 2:10)
As a Christian, I am a product of the working of God. In this amazing verse, the Greek word for “workmanship” is poēima, from where we get our word “poem.” I looked up “poem” on an online dictionary and found this quote from John Ciardi.
For a symbol is like a rock dropped into a pool: it sends out ripples in all directions, and the ripples are in motion. Who can say where the last ripple disappears? One may have a sense that he at least knows approximately the center point of all those ripples, the point at which the stone struck the water. Yet even then he has trouble marking it precisely. How does one make a mark on water? ... The ripples continue to move and the light to change on the water and the longer one watches the more changes he sees. And such shifting-and-being-at-the-same-instant is of the very sparkle and life of poetry. Of poetry and of life itself. For the poem is a dynamic and living thing. One experiences it as one experiences life…. One is never done with it: every time he looks he sees something new, and it changes even as he watches. And that very sense of continuity in fluidity is one of the kinds of knowledge, one of the ways of knowing, that only the arts can teach, poetry foremost among them.
The imagery in this quote makes me shiver. Is that what God means when He says I am His poem? That I can shift and change and sparkle with life that is always new and always offering to others a fascinating continuity? 

My ‘beat myself up’ self almost laughs at this possibility. Yet I know that Jesus Christ is like that. He is the ultimate work of art, the very Word of God made flesh. In Him are the glories of the Living God. He is the Word, the One who acted when God spoke the world into existence. 

And I am His workmanship. He says so. My challenge is to believe Him and stop listening to that self-centered and self-depreciating old nature that is dead but refuses to lie down and shut up.

Lord, this image of being a poem, being like ripples on water, ever changing and always filled with the sparkle of new life, Your life, fills me with awe. Yet I know that if I am to live as Your workmanship, I cannot watch myself no more than a ripple can watch itself. Instead, I must keep my eyes and focus on You and walk by faith for You are the ultimate Word, the poetry of God that is my dynamic, my very life.

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