2007-11-07 - The Sun Also Rises
Proverbs 4:18, "But the path of the righteous is like the light of dawn, that shines brighter and brighter until the full day."
Have you ever watched a sunset or a sunrise? Who hasn't? I remember camping about four hours from the Grand Canyon with a group of High School students when about midnight, there started a buzz about driving up to the Grand Canyon, to see the sun rise. Well, they needed a driver, and about 1 am, far too many students, than wisdom would approve, piled into a van and off we zipped to the Grand Canyon to see the sun rise. We got there, climbed over some "official" looking barriers as only High School students will, and positioned ourselves at the end of a ledge hanging over a drop that any freefall jumper would envy. The sun came up. It was serene, quiet, and even beautiful -- but there it was. It was up, and we had a four-hour drive back to camp.
It is the kind of thing youth groups do on retreats, but there is something about a sunrise or a sunset that can be instructive to us. Notice that the sun does not just appear. It comes up gradually, just as it sets gradually. When the weatherman tells us the sunrise will be at 6:11am, we know that it is not dark the moment before, and light the next. The sunrise is gradual. It comes up by degrees, and I would like to suggest it is the same with Christian graces. Some of us seem to grow rich in grace in a moment, but in truth, any soul that is rich in grace, grows in grace gradually. We move from virtue to virtue, but all along growing deeper, wiser, and stronger in the things of Christ. Being rich can be seen in ways other than possessions, wealth, or friends. We can be rich in grace, and we all ought to be striving to rise higher in that way of shining.
It is common with us to grow frustrated that the things of our faith don't "stick" as we would like them to do so in our lives and experience. There are many who strive hard in the Christian life for a time, but then find that progress is not as it is in other things. Growth comes slowly, and often takes longer than we expected. When we think we have made progress with a particular sin, a new concern rises up. When a particular passage of Scripture, which the understanding of has escaped us, is grasped, then a new passage must be tackled. When will it end? And many give up. Their sun stops rising and starts to set prematurely. It is because the things of Christ are not mastered in a moment. It takes diligence, and there is very little instant gratification, as we progress in faith. We are striving unto perfection, but that's just it: we are striving, ever striving, towards a goal - a goal which will always elude us. Our goal needs to be to keep our sun rising, however. It is our goal to always be seeking new insights, new comforts, new crowning spirituals* that only the child of God understands as precious.
Progress in the Christian faith is often slow. Nevertheless, we strive on. We seek that the glorious rising of our experience of grace may ever be moving into Christlikeness. "And let endurance have its perfect result, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing," James 1:4.
Soli Deo Gloria,
The Sun Also Rises, © 1926, written by Ernest Hemingway, Simon & Schuster Adult Publishing Group, 9780743297332
* The definition of "spirituals" referred to here is: things of a spiritual, ecclesiastical, or religious nature (AOL Online Dictionary)