As I became quiet before the Lord this morning, the words and tune of a beautiful secular song about love were involuntarily going through my mind – “Take my hand I’m a stranger in paradise, lost in a wonderland….” And suddenly I thought “How true”. Here I am, we all are, exiles from paradise due to Adam and Eve’s disobedience. With Adam and Eve and every person since then we have been thrown out of Paradise and eternal life (the right to eat from the tree of life) blocked by two cherubim who are wielding a flaming sword preventing us from entering. Yet, through the huge grace of God and the work of Jesus the true Adam, we have once again been granted entry into this “Wonderland”. Not entirely physically yet, but completely in a spiritual sense. But, heh, we are actually still “strangers” to this magnificent and beautiful garden and we need the One who is completely at home to take us by the hand and lead us through it, so that we can become familiar with it and live in the harmony which it represents, with God Himself and all else in creation. I thought to myself, how much do I need that guidance and yet it just takes my desire to take His hand and He will lead me all the way until I enter the real physical Paradise one day. Whew! What a thought, my heart is bouncing in my throat, my palms are sweaty and my eyes filled with tears at the thought of it.
Now back to he theme of our blog as I invite you to “listen to Jesus”. Coming to the end of the book of Colossians there are a number of verses which appear to have little spiritual significance, if we are not careful. As I went through them I was astounded by what Jesus said to me from them. Maybe you would like to sit down with a pen and paper and write down what Paul is saying in these vss, say 4:2-18. Here are some of the things that I felt He was saying to me:
Paul writes from a position where he is “in chains”, vs 18. Just before that he urges Archippus to complete the work he has received from the Lord. Well what does this say to me? I am sort of “in chains” tied down to my house, as it were. The exciting thing is that that does not mean I am of no use to God. He has put me here. Now, if the message to Archippus is for me too, there is still work for me to do, not just any work, the work the Lord has given me. So here I am at 82 with the promise that God still wants to use me, He still has plans for me, a work He has given me. Even if that work is just loving and caring for Emily, it is a very special work because God Himself has given it to me to do, and I must complete it. There is of course the possibility of other things He wants me to do as well, but that alone gives me a new impetus to joy and thankfulness in my situation, doing the special work he wants me to do.
Then of course going back a bit I read in vs 12 about Epaphrus who is described as always wrestling in prayer for the recipients of the letter. Well actually he had been their pastor earlier so he knew them pretty well. Of course it is not only him that should be wrestling in prayer, we are all to be “devoted in prayer”, 4:2. I am now trying to work through this one. I feel my prayer life falls far short of what it should be. I can’t exactly say I picture myself as wrestling in prayer. I am sure there are some of you out there who are doing it far better. But I do know you and I am praying for each one of you and asking God to help me do it more effectively.
There’s more there in that passage, but I will stop there and urge you to take time and see what God (Jesus) is saying to you. I get so excited when I meet with our Lord and sense His opening up His word for me. That is really what it means to be alive. To not only see words on the paper, but to see the words as a portal, a window which opens and displays a vast and beautiful scenery and Jesus can take you through that window, soar on eagle’s wings into HIs very presence. No wonder I feel “lost in a wonderland”.
2 Replies to “A Stranger in Paradise.”
How very beautifully written, Ian. It is indeed a privilege to be “lead up to the ‘portal’ … and told to “look and listen”. Will do some ‘homework’ now.
Reading ‘Wonderland’ again I was left ‘wondering’ where and when I could have ‘wrestled’ in prayer more effectively when listening to Jesus. I wrestled ‘with God’ once, beating my forty-something fists on the the mattress and crying out ‘why me, Lord, why me?’… the answer came swiftly and almost audibly :”Why not, my child? Remember Gethsemane”. Years later visiting my Dr in Greyton (such a tender, caring Christian) he said: “What’s with the limp?”
I blurted out…. “I guess I’ve been wrestling with God like Jacob” (Gen.32:24-32 in Peniel).”Aha! You should never wrestle with God but before Him!” Now that was a lesson learnt.