Life

I came that they may have life and may have it abundantly.

— St. John 10:10

If we will but let our God and Father work his will with us, there can be no limit to his enlargement of our consciousness. We have no conception of what life might be, of how vast is the consciousness of which we could be made capable. As little as any man or woman would be inclined to call the existence of a dog an existence to be satisfied with, as little could I, looking on the common human endeavor around me, consent to regard them as worthy the name of life. What in them is true dwells amidst an unchallenged corruption, demanding repentance and labor and prayer for its destruction. The condition of most men and women seems to me a life in death, a possession of withering forms by spirits that slumber, and babble in their dreams. That they do not feel it so, is nothing. The day must come when they will hide their faces with such shame as the good man yet feels at the memory of the time when he lived like them. There is nothing for man worthy to be called life, but the life eternal—God’s life, that is, after his degree shared by the man made to be eternal also. For he is in the image of God, intended to partake of the life of the most high, to be alive as he is alive. Of this life the outcome and the light is righteousness, love, grace, and truth. The ignorant soul understands by this life eternal only an endless elongation of consciousness; what God means by it is a being like his own, a being beyond the attack of decay or death, a being which came out of the heart of Life, the heart of God, the fountain of being; an existence having nothing in common, any more than the Eternal himself, with what can pass or cease.

Commentary
 

Moving Towards The Dawn
by Stephen Carney

George MacDonald says, “The condition of most men and women seems to me a life in death, a possession of withering forms by spirits that slumber, and babble in their dreams.  That they do not feel it so, is nothing.  The day must come when they will hide their faces with such shame as the good man yet feels at the memory of the time when he lived like them.  There is nothing for man worthy to be called life, but the life eternal--God's life, that is, after his degree shared by the man made to be eternal also.  For he is in the image of God, intended to partake of the life of the most high, to be alive as he is alive.”  I have quoted the above passage at length, as it is important to understanding MacDonald's theology, and also what I am about to comment on regarding this all-important truth.  MacDonald believes that we live our lives broken by sin to the point that it is difficult for us to imagine the real life that we were meant to live out in Christ. 

I remember a book by I.K. Marvel entitled Dream Life, and it seems to me that is a good definition of what MacDonald is tying to help us see.  For him, it was a life lived out by “possession of withering forms by spirits that slumber, and babble in their dreams.”  We hear much of this in our current culture.  People long to “live out their dreams” or live in the fantasy world of comics, movies, or a virtual reality that often doesn't require special glasses but only a connection to the internet.  People dream of romance, picturing the perfect marriage, and are disappointed when what they wind up with doesn't live up to the fantasy.  Some dream of being famous or great. 

But, like many of those who enter one of the television shows where singers compete for stardom and a contract, the reality of their abilities do not always live up to the dream.  People often dream themselves greater than they are.  I often wonder how much we have hindered our children by telling them to “dream big” or “you can be anything you want to be” or even worse, “you are special.”  Being a part of this culture of self-aggrandizement, nearly all of us have said these things at one time or another.  But a child may want to be a doctor, yet not have the mental fortitude to do that; or even if they do, they might not beat out the other students for the few spots there are in medical school.  A child may want to grow up to be president, but that is much like winning the lottery, and a person may not get the party support nor the popular vote needed to be elected.  How many politicians have come so close but missed it?  Who can forget the hanging chad election in which Al Gore came so close, but missed it by a chad. You can try to live out your dreams, but they may or may not come true.  Everyone thinks they just might be the one to win the jackpot lottery, but out of the millions who play, only on or two might win.  Not very good odds on your dream. 

For those who do win, sometimes the dream becomes their nightmare.  But that's the rub, often times getting what we want is not the same as getting what we truly need.  What we need for life might be the strong medicine of the doctor or, if we want soul life, we might need the strong medicine of the Holy Spirit to woo out of us the terrible infection of our selfish dreams and awaken us to the dawn of true life in Christ.  Often it is dream life that keeps us from a real life in God.  Our dreams may blind us to what is really going on around us, just as a daydream may make on oblivious to the car in front of us as we are driving; or who hasn't been caught daydreaming as the teacher called our name to answer a question.  Daydreaming may be a fleeting thing, but dream life can lead to some terrible nightmares.  For many times our nightmares are just the hard light of day shattering out egotistical fantasies. 

God is calling us to a higher life, but for that to happen he must wake us from the delusions of dream life and wake us to move towards the dawn of eternal life.  “Awake O' sleeper!  Arise from the dead and Christ shall give you life.”  It is often a rude awakening.  We hate to lose our dreams, but soon that will pass and we will begin to see how small and trite our selfish dreams were when compared with the “eternal weight of glory” which lies “beyond all comparison.”  As MacDonald says, “...there can be no limit to his enlargement of our consciousness.  We have no conception of what life might be, of how vast is the consciousness of which we could be made capable.” 

We need to travel this life with no expectations, and just see what door the Eternal Hand opens to us.  In my own life, none of the dreams of my youth have come true, for which I am grateful.  But I have lived a full, wild, and exciting life that has been greater than my dreams.  I have traveled to many places around the world, hiked the Grand Canyon and the Tetons, scuba dived, skydived, been loved, hated, hurt, helped, broken, cared for, preached sermons, read wonderful books, been attacked, I have sinned and repented and sinned and repented. I have been lied about and even had the truth told on me.  God has spoiled me by giving me some of the best friends a man could ask for,and he has also given me some of the finest enemies you could ever hope to have.  It has been far from a perfect life, but none of it was planned.  I had no idea where this adventure with God would take me; I just chose to go through the open doors that God gave me, and it has made all of the difference.  Some people get it in their heads what the trip is supposed to be like before they even take the first step on the journey, and they are usually disappointed.  But travel with no expectations and let God surprise you with what he does in, and for, and through you. 

Move towards the Dawn.