Beautiful Tensions

“Who shut in the sea with doors
    when it burst out from the womb,
when I made clouds its garment
    and thick darkness its swaddling band,
and prescribed limits for it
    and set bars and doors,
and said, ‘Thus far shall you come, and no farther,
    and here shall your proud waves be stayed’?

“Have you commanded the morning since your days began,
and caused the dawn to know its place?
Have the gates of death been revealed to you,
or have you seen the gates of deep darkness?

“Where is the way to the dwelling of light,
and where is the place of darkness,
that you may take it to its territory
and that you may discern the paths to its home?” Job 38:8-12,17,19-20

“He has made everything beautiful in its time. Also, he has put eternity into man’s heart, yet so that he cannot find out what God has done from the beginning to the end.” Ecclesiastes 3:11

“Where is he who brought them up out of the sea
    with the shepherds of his flock?
Where is he who put in the midst of them
    his Holy Spirit,
who caused his glorious arm
    to go at the right hand of Moses,
who divided the waters before them
    to make for himself an everlasting name?” Isaiah 63:11-12

It is summer’s middle, and the morning is cool, a startling, relished gift for July in the tropics. Rain pours, thunders, drowning a day’s plans, yet its thudding taps are a soothing symphony against the metal roof above. A loved one nears life’s end, sorrow and love mingle and squeeze into inextricable bittersweet peace. Cherished time together delights and refreshes the soul, but we part with its not being enough.

The beautiful tensions in life are proof of a Masterful Creator who’s instilled eternity in the temporal heart, and made temporal flesh for intimacy with the eternal divine. Such are His mysterious ways, such is His gift, to mix joy with longing, to cause us to hunger when sated.

God is a God of ponderable contrasts. He is a Redeemer from of old who makes all things new. He is the light of the world who made darkness, and overcomes it. He who is boundless sets boundaries for the ocean, and day and night. He tries us in fire of affliction to bring purity of character and joy. He was forsaken so we can be forgiven, He died so we can live. (Isaiah 48:10; 63:16; John 1:4-5; 3:16; 8:12; 2 Corinthians 5:15; James 1:2-4; Revelation 21:5)

These beautiful tensions keep us from complacency in living and spiritual lethargy in worship. Will we ever get enough time together? Can the colors of a sunrise or sunset be even richer, the design and hue of flowers be more exquisite? Why does love for a child expand within so much we think we’ll burst? Or the sound and understanding of a new word ignite desire to learn another? How exquisite is the desire of a worshiper to ascribe and exalt, finding only the Spirit can interpret and verbalize that soul’s cry! I imagine heaven is a place where we will be constantly and perfectly satisfied and always wanting more. (Romans 8:23-27)

Great God, cause every confusion and contrast to ignite my worship of You who hold and handle all in glorious perfection.

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