By Stephanie Gehring
February 21, 2005
Imagine yourself in a world full of contradictions: imagine cancer and sunrise within heartbeats of one another. Imagine lovers who use words as though they were knives. Imagine lies and beauty all tangled together, and darkness that throbs sometimes with flashes of joy. Imagine all this around you, in front of you, inside you.
Imagine God has found you, and you have finally given in; imagine you want to be found more every day. Imagine the leaves shine with rain, that they say, Remember you, too, are God’s creature. Imagine the leaves make you long for your Lord, but when they try to teach you how to follow Him, you are not sure you understand. Imagine you’re not sure whom to trust anymore, that you’ve run out of faith in yourself.
Welcome to earth. Imagine God is here too. Imagine God has always been here. Imagine you and the leaves are both here because God was first. Imagine God knows that you have forgotten the language of the leaves, though they speak so plainly; imagine that God has caused words to come, telling the same story the leaves tell, starting at the beginning. Imagine God has always wanted to get those words safely into your heart, where they would sprout life. This is why He put them on the lips of the leaves, why He engraved them on stone and spoke them out of thunderclouds, out of fire, out of silence. Imagine God saw that the words weren’t getting in, that our hearts were too well guarded. Imagine God would stop at nothing; imagine the most basic principle of existence, the shining power that gave the universe its stars, come to us as a baby, then a boy, then a man. Then an unjustly accused man, then one tortured, then dead.
And then not dead anymore. But it was not like a jack-in-the-box, snap into the grave, bounce back out; Christ went deeper than death, because He is deeper than everything, because life came first from Him. He went into death; it was a dead end until He went through, and now it is a road that goes on, though its beginning is dark to us.
Imagine you have a part in this story, that it is not finished yet. The leaves know this: Do you see them press into their buds, unfold toward the sun, do the hard work of life? The leaves know things will end in glory.
The leaves know, but you must learn to believe; this is the most important work of your life. It is not too late to start today.
Imagine God has not left you alone, that He has given you the leaves and the sunsets, the lives of those who love you and the whole story of things: creation and death and new life. Imagine that we can enter God’s sorrow, God’s anger, God’s unending love through the words He sent, that the words tell how our lives will change when we believe, when we begin to understand again the song of creation. Imagine that God will breathe into those words if we listen, that even though they are only words, they can be the presence of the Almighty in us, making life grow.Welcome to the kingdom of Heaven. God has been waiting for you always.
Philippians (it’s not that long—read the whole thing)