A collection of past contributions…
Investors in the “market” have had a rough ride recently. With the stock markets’ radical performance, risk tolerances have been seriously tested. A lot of nervous people are concerned about the future of their hard-earned savings. Will there still be enough to meet our financial goals? Will this impact our plans? Will we have to readdress our expectations? Should we look closer at gold, silver, or palladium? The “what-if’s” rob us of sleep then awaken us again at 3 o’clock in the morning!
These concerns are real, but remembering another reality may be helpful. Whether or not we decide to consider moving assets into precious metals as a hedge against losses, we can decide to move our hopes towards some investments that will ensure long-term significant dividends.
The reality is that our assets are a stewardship – an entrusting to us. When we are done – I mean done done, gone, someone else will possess our possessions. That’s a 100% sure thing. Psalm 49 expresses this brutal truth. Also Jesus, speaking in Luke 12:20, challenges us to keep it in perspective. Describing someone planning a prosperous future: “But God said to him, ‘Fool, This night your soul will be required of you; then whose will those things be which you have provided?’” (NKJV) Someday it all goes away.
So what can we do about it? We can do our best with it while we have it. Our best? Diversify with investment in eternity. First be sure our sins are forgiven and that eternal life is legitimately ours. Only then can we actually have a future and a hope when life’s done. Then invest in things that last forever. That means invest in people and in God’s Word. Matthew 6:19-21 encourages us to send assets ahead, where moths and rust don’t corrupt and where thieves (or the market) can’t break through and steal. Those investments are safe.
Balanced, orderly, organized, even – all words that could describe symmetric. We may think of kaleidoscopes or remember vaulted medieval chapel ceilings. Crystal structures like snowflakes and tiny cubic salt granules have their own symmetries, their own organized orders and designs. Some people (including me) especially enjoy finding balance and order in nature. Maybe it’s about trying to understand the whole by understanding the parts and how systems work together to fulfill purposes, even if those purposes are only beauty.
When we search for “symmetry” in our life experiences, we are also searching for how the individual parts fit together to give purpose or beauty. How do my experiences balance out? Where is the order, the design? Where is this going? Those questions often have elusive answers.
Adult coloring books have been found for many to be stress-relievers. The focus on creating balanced colorful beauty is evidently calming. If seeing physical symmetry brings peace (or settling) in our physical world experience, clarifying our understanding of physical relationships, supporting our need for order, the opposite is true in the spiritual realm.
Rather than symmetry bringing peace, here peace allows for symmetry. Properly placed and enduring faith gives an internalized peace that trusts God’s purposes rather than those we can perceive without Him. The peace of faith allows God to define the symmetry.
Proverbs 3:5,6 states, “Trust in the Lord with all your heart and do not lean on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge Him, and He will make your paths straight.” (NASB)
And in Psalm 4:8 we read, “In peace I will both lie down and sleep, For You alone, O Lord, make me to dwell in safety.” (NASB)
Understanding God’s perfect purposes, His symmetry for our lives, the big picture and all its interrelationships, becomes secondary to the peaceful rest provided by trusting His goodness and faithfulness.
Image: Covered bridge interior structure, Northern Ohio, USA
It was against the rules to play the sanctuary piano after hours. Yet I found myself sitting on the stone steps of Philadelphia College of Bible listening to another late night story of Tim’s life. I was Assistant Dean and it was my responsibility to enforce the rules, but this was not the time for that. That evening I chose instead to just listen again to Tim. He was brilliant. Playing without music, the dissonant chords followed impromptu, tortuous tunes that begged for consistent melody.
A younger student came by, passing on the stairs. “Aren’t you going to stop him?” he demanded. “He’s not supposed to be playing that piano.” I invited him instead, “Sit down and listen.” So we sat. And Tim played. Sometimes wildly, as if he were attacking the piano in anger and grief. It went on and on. Then, almost imperceptibly at first, melody began to emerge. First hidden in the dissonant sequences. Then becoming dominant as the confusion of chords gave way to beautifully peaceful tones.
Tim had worked through his faith again. And as he finished, quietly closed the piano and left, I turned to the younger student and asked, “Did you hear it?” He nodded and went on his way to the dorm.
Tim didn’t know we were listening and that I had refused to interrupt his journey.
We are not expected to immediately find the melody, but if we continue playing, the melody has time to emerge, as it did for Tim. We can learn from others’ journeys, and we should listen closely to their struggles and learn how they learned the patience of trust. God keeps His promises. He has promised to see us through our difficult times and help us obtain an eternal perspective, helping us see past the trouble to the enduring heart melody that only God Himself can supply – from His loving heart to ours.