I can no longer remember how I first found Tresta Payne’s blog, but I know I have appreciated her quiet, wise stories for a long time. We’ve never met, and our homes are separated by too many miles, but what I glimpse in her stories is a vision of a life well lived. I don’t mean that her life seems perfect or even that she seems perfect. Only that the thoughtfulness and attentiveness with which she lives her daily life inspires me. And this Advent reflection? It’s a song of hope calling each of us out into the wild world beyond even our imaginations. To the place where God, in all his fullness, dwells.
At the dawn of first light, the Very First Light, there was a song about a savior coming. At Joseph’s court, on Moses’ long trek, at Nehemiah’s return – all through there was a hint of coming, of reigning, of redeeming forever.
I imagine God, like Aslan, singing the world into being and singing the first sunrise up with hope.
You will mess up.
You will fall short.
You will despise Me and think you’ve gone as far away as you can, but I’m making a way back.
Because you will want to return.
I need to imagine it like this, like Lewis did in The Magician’s Nephew. I need to imagine more about God than I think is possible, because my finite brain is tied to my eternal soul and both need more of who God is, less of who I keep being.
I am hopeful against the odds.
There was a message at church a month ago about hope. Our pastor was reminding us of personal revival in a time when the whole world seems a wreck and we so easily lose hope for it. He was encouraging us to think more about God, to remember that He does and is beyond all that we could ask or imagine.
I was challenged to think more of God. Not just to think of God more often – definitely that. But mostly, to think MORE of Him than my logic can fathom, and so to stretch beyond my mind’s small and logical borders.
I want to think the grandest thoughts I can about God, about His plans for good, and about His kingdom in me and you and the one to come. And then, when I’ve thought the best thoughts I can muster, I am challenged to believe that it’s even better than that.
The imagination doesn’t stretch beyond the natural order of things very well, especially if it’s been stifled by years of common sense and religion. But yet, what is natural if not God?
Bring back the imagination, I say. Bring back the awe of God and the understanding that we simply cannot grasp Him, but He wants us to try and keep trying, seek and keep seeking, believe and keep believing.
Before that Baby broke the thin skin between heaven and earth, landing in the rough hands of a carpenter, the world logically understood how babies were born. Mom + Dad = Baby. Of course. So logically, Mary was lying.
I wonder if she spent any time at all defending the truth she knew in her heart, but no one could fathom in their minds? How frustrating, to know the truth about God in a way no one else would believe.
She tucked things away in her heart, like moms do, and I suppose she also learned to think more about God, even more than a virgin birth and God-made-man.
The song was carried by angels that first night of Christ’s incarnation and they sang what they didn’t fully understand. God is too much for even the heavenly hosts to grasp.
Novatian says that if God were to be understood fully, He couldn’t be God. If our human understanding could box Him up all tidy (like we try to) then God would be a god of our making, a god of small minds and little imagination, bound by human experience.
But God is before, and God is behind, and He has to be more than our language can express. He has to be outside of every means we have to fully describe Him or know Him or experience Him.
Yet He placed Himself in us, bound up in the same minerals He spoke into existence.
Voices from the past keep reminding us and I know I don’t quite get it yet. Do you ever feel like you are on the edge of something, about to take a huge leap in understanding or faith or imagination towards God? It’s a good place to be, but it’s not the finale.
There’s always, endlessly, forever and ever, more.
The hope of revival and the revival of hope in me, and the strain to hear that song – it’s Christmas’ reminder. It’s the only fitting thing for a weary world to rejoice in.
He’s coming and we hear the music and we imagine so much more than is possible, so much more than what the pull of this earth allows us.
He’s coming, and that’s enough and altogether too much for us.
Tresta lives in the Pacific Northwest with her husband and 4 kids, surrounded by mountains and rivers and the best little community one could ask for. Her days are filled with homeschooling, laundry, and trying to find truth, goodness, and beauty in the middle of chaos. Any remaining brain cells are used to put words together at sharppaynes.com.