“The wicked in his proud countenance does not seek God; God is in none of his thoughts.” Psalms 10:4
I guess I should have joined Facebook sooner. If I had, perhaps I would have learned more life application skills that would have really simplified my life. Unfortunately, I am not an early-adopter. It is more my style to let other people work out the kinks on new technology and “advances” in general. So I drug my feet for several years before finally succumbing to Facebook. Even then, I did it more to find out what all the hubbub was about, than anything. After several months of lurking and accepting a few friend requests, I was near the point of pulling the plug on the whole thing. But then, it happened. I was reading through a series of comments about depression as a factor in suicides (pretty exciting topic, huh?) when I encountered a revelation, of sorts…
“We don’t need god anymore. We now know enough about the human body and mind to have a basic idea about the mechanisms of mental illness including depression to understand it sufficiently. Not perfect knowledge, of course, but enough to know there’s no need for a god to explain it. Further, we don’t need to make up fictional father figures to feel love. We have the capacity for love already inside us. We know that part of the human imperfection is that we lose track of that capacity.”
Wow! I actually had to read it several times to really take it in. If this is really true, then I have been wasting a lot of time in church, at Sunday School, praying and witnessing to other people. Oh, and the time this sinner spends confessing to God, now that really adds up over the years. Assuming that I am lucky enough to live another 20 years, one full year will be wasted in all these activities that are apparently useless. Of course, adopting this new worldview will mean that I will need to depend on the “smart people” who have all this wonderful knowledge, and having a little luck will be essential. Maybe I should buy a rabbit’s foot to keep on my key chain as a constant reminder of how important luck will be to me? And the smart people are going to be awful important, so maybe we ought to consider building some shrines to honor them?
And that mushy “love” topic? This new learning seems like the ultimate freedom! Over the years there have been a lot people who I don’t really like, but I’ve prayed for them, taught them and helped them in various ways. Erroneously, I thought I was sharing God’s love with them, but if there is no God, I must have been wasting my time. Whew, that’s going to be load off my plate! If I feel like loving someone, I will; if not, I won’t give it another thought because I must simply not have the capacity for it within me.
Oh, this would be the easy way out. At a glance it looks pretty tempting to adopt this worldview…but at what cost? What meaning would life have if there is no God? How would I navigate through life without the One who is always there for me? There would be nothing to look forward to in the afterlife, and I’ve been planning on lodging in His mansion.
On second thought, I don’t think I will adopt this worldview. After nearly 50 years of experience, I am convinced that there is a God and that I need Him. The Bible is the document guiding my life, but even without it I would know He is there. I talk to Him often and He answers. He has protected me through times when I didn’t deserve it and in places I shouldn’t have survived. He loves me and shows me how to love others, not because of any great knowledge I’ve accumulated or deeds I’ve accomplished, but because I do my best to trust and obey Him. He is sufficient for me.
“For whatever is born of God, overcomes the world. And this is the victory that has overcome the world – our faith.” 1John 5:4
A number of theories exist over the origin of the Celtic cross. The most likely explanation is that the design represents a cross adorned with a victor’s wreath, which was stamped on the back of a gold coin, called the Liudhard medalet, from Canterbury, England around 590 BC. It is speculated that this medallion was worn to proclaim a person’s conversion to Christianity. Indeed, the faith of a new believer is a victory worthy of celebration. Moreover, it is an event to be proclaimed and shared wherever we go, and in all we do. One’s faith in Jesus Christ is a mighty victory over evil, and it is celebrated by our Lord in Heaven, as He welcomes us into His loving arms.
It is about time to wrap up discussion on my Ireland trip, so this will be my final post focused on the subject. My “victories” in Ireland pale against coming to Christ, but the many things I was able to see and experience offered me a number of reasons to celebrate. As mentioned in a previous post, visiting Ireland has been a nearly lifelong dream, so just being there was pretty darn amazing. Beyond the landscapes, castles, and all the other things a person normally would expect to find there, some of the best things were not really anticipated.
Before we headed “across the pond,” Leah suggested we look into catching a glimpse of the Quiet Man Bridge. This small bridge served as a prop for John Wayne in one of the early scenes of the movie, The Quiet Man, in which Maureen O’Hara co-starred. I am not a person that generally holds movie stars in any special regard, but I have to admit that John Wayne has always been my favorite. And The Quiet Man is a fun show that our family has watched a number of times. So with seeing the bridge in mind, we scheduled a night at a Bed & Breakfast in Oughterard, only a short distance away from the bridge.
The Cliffs of Moher are a popular tourist destination, which normally would make me want to avoid them! After all, they’re just cliffs along the coast, how different could they be? Well, they are actually very spectacular when you see them up close, and I am very glad we took the time to do so. In fact, they are so spectacular that at the time of our visit there was a campaign in progress to get them voted as one of the seven natural wonders of the Europe. These nearly vertical cliffs rise from a measly 390 feet above sea level at their point, up to 702 feet near O’Brien’s Lookout, not far from where I took the photo below. Just to get a little perspective on the size of these cliffs, if you look closely, you will see a few people walking along the top edge of them on the left side of the image.
As impressive as the many sights were, I think the people and culture I encountered had the greatest impact on me. Over the 7 days in the country, I never met anyone that wasn’t polite or helpful. Most evenings I had supper in pubs, yet I never ran across loud, obnoxious drunkards. It took me awhile to competently drive on the left side of the road, and in the meanwhile I made several rookie mistakes that created hazards, or at least impediments, for other drivers, but I never was the recipient of any reaction remotely close to the road rage that is so prevalent in the states. As a whole, the culture with which I interacted seemed to be comprised of regular, unpretentious folks that couldn’t have been more hospitable. I may never have the pleasure of returning to Ireland, but I will always remember how welcome I felt as a visitor to their remarkable land.