The other day I posted a picture from last year’s (2012) Founder’s Week at Moody Bible Institute on Facebook; a friend and I had gone to celebrate our 25th reunion since graduation in 1987. Another of my friends asked me to post the original photo from that year, so I went in search of the old yearbook. Now I was quite involved with the yearbook back then, taking pictures and writing. One of the pieces I wrote got a bit messed up by the printer, so I thought I would reprint it here in the form it was supposed to be in. Reading through it, I remember exactly what I was thinking when I wrote it… now 26 years ago. And in spite of the brain injury, 6-week coma and other events that have shifted my perspective, the core of my theology remains the same. (And the piece would have been written before I got my degrees in geography… although if I’d done it now I would have written the measurements in kilometres…)
Signs and Wonders
reprinted from the Arch, 1987
Chicago – 100 miles
We pass them all the time, everywhere we go. We hardly bother to notice them, yet we need them to get where we want to go. They sit on the side of the road, just signs, pointing quite unobtrusively to a destination that is far from where they are.
Chicago – 80 miles
Jesus Christ is our destination. He stands on the horizon and beckons us toward him – and we walk, run, scramble and crawl in his direction. He’s our primary reference point. By looking at him, and drawing on his power, we can tell exactly how close we are to what we were made to be.
Chicago – 60 miles
But sometimes things get in the way. We fall into dark holes or stumble along some obscure path; we look in the wrong direction or simply decide that the road is too difficult and we want a rest… now. That’s when it gets hard to see where we’re going. It hurts. It’s frightening when we feel like we’re lost.
Chicago – 40 miles
That’s why God put other signposts along the way. They, of course, are not the actual destination: they simply point the way. They’re people: and they’re flawed, although they can stil point to the right road. Usually the best ones are the people who aren’t trying to be what they are; they’re too tired and bruised and heartsick trying to get to the destination, refusing to give up to worry about making a big deal pointing. They show the way simply by going that way. A neon sign with fluorescent lettering, flashing light bulbs and fireworks draw more attention to itself than to what it wants to say. But that’s the way our society thinks: make the sign more spectacular, and then they’ll see the directions. But it doesn’t work that way: the “then” gets in the way. Everyone forgets to look beyond the sign, and sometimes we forget to direct them, even if they did. The ontology of a signpost is not an easy thing to comprehend.
Chicago – 20 miles
When I think of a parallel to a sign that points to God, I picture one of those little rustic signposts that sits out on a country lane, rather weatherbeaten and slightly tilted. It only has one or two words on it, and sometimes doesn’t even have the mileage. But the weary traveller who passes by is glad to see it. And there are many people in our world today who are just like those signposts. I suppose that’s why it’s been some of the more quiet men and women on campus who have impressed me this semester. Shouts and raucous laughter face quickly from my memory, but the sounds of silence linger with a haunting stimulation in our rooms. Snow falling in the plaza. Third Coast and Coffee Chicago. That quiet quality, so subtle and yet so powerful, seems to be what really touches a man’s heart and binds us as a community for this eternal journey.
Chicago – 10 miles
So Lord, Grant me the ability to clamber after you; and in finding your reflections learn to point myself. Thanks for those who’ve taught me thus far. I eagerly await the morning I’ll wake up and find that I won’t have to point any more. I’ll be