Something I was not searching for, but I found serendipitously from an anonymous note I received, came in a flash of thought. Neither fight nor flight, dismissal nor belittlement occupied my reaction to it, only empathy for an unknown soul expressing bewilderment in an unsigned letter. Drifting into reflection about its author and what the letter said, I wondered how meaning comes about.
Isn’t meaning what we give to experience? Or is it there, dormant, silent, patient, waiting to be found between our words and our experiences? What does this suggest?
In every experience, those who have yet to understand God’s transforming love and those who choose to rely on their understanding alone, there appears to be only two reactions. One is to contend with it as if by sheer will alone the good can be claimed and the bad of it overcome. The second is a benign resignation to inevitability, to flee from responsible intentionality, to say it is God’s will.
Said another way, mankind often applies the adjective “good” to only what is right in accordance with general agreement. And he will apply terms such as bad and evil to what is considered harsh and painful. Both are subject to either our imposed will or resignation. But doesn’t the good man, in God’s care, find good in pain? Doesn’t the bad man, lost, place upon the Good every idea that is wrong with it?
Psalm 25: 8,9 says, “Good and upright is the Lord; therefore, He teaches sinners in the way. The humble He guides in justice, and the humble He teaches His way.”
Do those without ears not hear? Do only the humble hear God? And to each humbled through experience, the meaning discovered leads to another choice, a meaning pointing to God.
C.S. Lewis wrote, “The good man’s past begins to change so that his forgiven sins and remembered sorrows take on the quality of Heaven: the bad man’s past already conforms to his badness and is filled only with dreariness. And that is why, at the end of all things, when the sun rises here and the twilight turns to blackness down there, the Blessed will say, ‘We have never lived anywhere except in Heaven,’ and the Lost, ‘We were always in Hell.’ And both will speak truly.”
Of faith, hope and love, the greatest of these is where God is taking us. Either through retrospect or by pain or by blessing, God wishes us to realize there is another choice, another response to both the good and the bad we experience. The humble man finds meaning in both. To see in love is to see as God sees.
Another thought occurred to me as I read the letter. Out there, somewhere, lives an unknown soul I have not met and may never chance a meeting.
This soul is unknown to me but not to God.
“Those who have ears to hear, let them hear” (Matthew 11:15, NKJV).