When I flew out of New York for Reykjavik, Iceland on March 11th, I had no idea that I was leaving, perhaps forever, a way of life that I had been living for a long, long time. I was one of millions who assumed that the essential features of my daily life were solid and would last. Essentially, I assumed that when I returned on the 17th I could resume my daily activities unimpeded, that the world I lived in, as well as the world constructed by my imagination, could be picked up and continued just as I had left it before flying off on a short trip to a foreign land. But as the whole nation has suddenly been placed on an obligatory pause, so too it might be an ideal time to look at our own assumptions about the life we have been living up to this point. All of this caused me to recall Wordsworth’s lines in his sonnet “The World:”
The world is too much with us; late and soon,
Getting and spending, we lay waste our powers:
Little we see in Nature that is ours;
We have given our hearts away, a sordid boon!
This lament might apply to many of us and our relentless day to day pursuit of an earthbound paradise. Wordsworth’s diagnosis is right, but he replaces one false hope for another: The worship of Nature, rather than “Nature’s God.” Indeed, we have “given our hearts away,” not just to getting and spending but to a vault of things that separate us from the God of the Bible and from his son, Jesus Christ. We should all pause for a moment and reflect on the question Jesus asked Peter and the disciples at Caesarea Philippi: “And on the way he asked his disciples, ‘Who do people say that I am?’ And they told him, ‘John the Baptist; and others say Elijah; and others, one of the prophets.’ And he asked them, ‘But who do you say that I am?’ Peter answered him, ‘You are the Christ.’ And he strictly charged them to tell no one about him.” (Mark 9:27-30)
The President has called this virus “an invisible enemy” and he is right, but anyone familiar with the biblical narrative can’t help but realize that we, as human beings, have been involved with this fight for as far back in time as we want to reach: “Four our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms.” (Ephesians 6:10-12) Wordsworth and his contemporaries would have rejected Paul’s understanding of the nature of the battle that we all are participating in; he would have agreed with Alexander Pope and the emerging secular conceits of the age: Know then thyself, presume not God to scan; The proper study of mankind is man. It is my hope that many will use this pause to look at our lives through a lens we know about but may not have used very much. That lens is God’s story as found in the pages of the Old and New Testaments. For example:
What does the Bible say about Creation?
What does the Bible tell us about the nature and character of God?
What is the origin and nature of “the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms”?
Really who is Jesus and why does it matter?
If we do not believe that God exists, what do we actually believe in?
What is sin and why has it become a “forbidden” word in our culture?
Is the Bible a living document for our times (and all times) or is it just a dusty tome that has no relevance to our lives and the way we choose to live it?
When I first started addressing some of these questions myself, I had no idea where to look. I approached the questions of God, time and eternity from the standpoint of someone who had lost their way and who had no idea where to look or who to ask. Twenty-eight years ago, though, I did discover a way ahead through reading passages from the Bible on a daily basis in a systematic way. Today, one place anyone can begin their own journey is by visiting my website. It is designed for the beginner and uses daily engagements with the Bible through podcasts, blogs, daily reflections and much more. I invite you to come and “taste and see.” This is the link: erickampmann.com