Light Beams and Musty Old Sheds: Meditations on Earlier Meditations

Imagine you are in a dark moldy shed and the only light coming into the shed is a singular beam from the roof. Being the only source of light, the beam is really the only visible thing in the shed and you are able to view it in its entirety. You see its width and length and the multitude of dust particles drifting in and along it. You are ‘looking at’ the beam.
Now imagine you step into the beam and look up along it towards the roof of the shed. You are able to see outside the shed and into view come trees and sunlight and a small sliver of the world outside of the shed. You no longer can view the beam of light itself because you are in it. You are ‘looking along’ the beam.

For C.S. Lewis, this illustration was important in describing the difference between Enjoyment and Contemplation (see his ‘Meditations in a Toolshed' essay for further clarification). Lewis thought knowledge could be divided into these two sub-categories, knowledge as Enjoyment and knowledge as Contemplation. The differences between the two are reflected in the beam illustration. To know something Contemplatively is to know it impersonally, scientifically, to identify its attributes but to be outside of it ‘looking at’ the beam. For example, I know my wife is physically beautiful (not my subjective opinion, this is just objective fact), she has brown hair, green eyes; she likes chocolate chip cookies and is a good athlete. To know something through Enjoyment is to know it deeply, personally, to be surrounded by it, to be ‘looking along’ the beam is to surrender to its influence and allow the beam to illuminate your line of sight. For example, sharing life with my wife, in the reality and influence of her presence, growing deeper with each other, being challenged by her and growing as a man/husband because of our love relationship.

I mention this, random though it is, because it got me thinking of how I ‘know’ Jesus. As someone who loves to read and learn about Jesus I often find myself growing in my Contemplative knowledge of Christ (which is a good thing) but neglecting my Enjoyment of him.
Think about when you came into a relationship with Jesus and surrendered your life to him. For many, there was a definite Contemplative reason(s) for wanting to commit their life to Christ but the actual act, the moment (or series of moments) of surrender was akin to moving from ‘looking at’ the beam (Jesus) to stepping inside of and ‘looking along’ the beam. In fact the very act of stepping into the beam is in a sense ‘surrendering’ to the beam and allowing it to transform your field of vision. No longer is Jesus something you look at but He becomes the light by which you see the rest of the world.

I do not think I am alone in this struggle for a deeper Enjoyment of Jesus. I’ve found that many people, especially younger people, struggle to find a healthy balance between Contemplating Jesus and Enjoying him. In today’s world everyone is an information junkie and input is nearly unavoidable so the Christian constantly has opportunities to learn more and more Contemplatively about Jesus without pausing to reflect on Him.
But ultimately the transformation Jesus brings is less through Contemplative knowledge of him (important though that is) and a whole lot more through Enjoyment of him, being in his presence, allowing him to illuminate everything else. There is only so much ‘looking at’ Jesus can teach us about him if we are not stepping into his Glory and light to Enjoy him. If we are content to ‘look at’ the beam instead of ‘looking along’ it, we are confining our knowledge of him and hindering the transformation Jesus constantly brings to a life. We are in effect, refusing to surrender and playing it safe, rather than risking the transformation and life changing awe a life lived in Jesus’ presence brings.

For many students in San Francisco, pondering Jesus Contemplatively is a necessary start, but it is hardly the end. We (Alex, myself, our ministry team) don’t simply want people to think about Jesus impersonally but to surrender their life to the Enjoyment of him, to be engulfed in his glory, forgiveness, love and strength and to live their life ‘looking along’ the truth of Jesus, rather than simply ‘looking at’ it.
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"Well," and "Enjoying God"

Hello fellow friends and supporters! I realize it has been a while since we have given an update on our ministry and what has been going on in Josh and my life, on our blog at least, so here it goes!
Ministry Update:
Currently we are still in Glendale raising support, hoping to be in San Francisco by the end of the Fall. We have 75% of our support raised which means we have 1/4 of the way to go. We cannot fully express how much God has blessed us through your continued prayers and support. The fact the Lord has brought in 75% of our support already is a huge blessing and something we thank Him for daily.

The school year in San Francisco started the last week of August and our directors Chris and Christine had a baby about a week before the first day of school. His name is Nolan and (based on the pictures I see on facebook) he is adorable.
Currently the City Cru team at San Francisco State is 5 strong (well 6 if you count Nolan), with Chris and Christine, interns Matt and Leah, and second year intern Anthony, all of whom I believe you've heard about through our last prayer letter. The other intern Kyle, as well as Josh and myself, are still in the support raising process and trusting the Lord's timing in bringing in the necessary funds.
Please continue to pray that the Lord gives His abundant love, guidance, protection, and endurance both to the team and City Cru students as the school year moves along.
Other Random Updates:

Josh - God has really been convicting and challenging me to Enjoy being in His presence. Often I am content to simply learn about His intellectually and not allow that knowledge to sink in and transform me. I'll be elaborating on this in a post later this week, but it has been super cool to focus on enjoying Jesus in my times with his. It sounds elementary but you'd be surprised how often we can spend good time with Jesus and forget to enjoy Him.

Alex - People ask me everyday, "How are you doing?" Most of the time I will reply, "Well," not having the time or energy to express what's really going on and also understanding this question is most often a civility used to begin a conversation. However, truthfully that is just how I am doing at the moment, "Well." Support raising, I have to say, is not the most thrilling part of doing ministry, though it is a very necessary part. My preference is to be going, doing, and experiencing significant results from my work. Yes, I go, do and see results though the support process, but it is at a much slower pace and the results are very much out of my control. This has been hard for me, but becomes easier everyday. The Lord has been teaching me to sit, rest and be "well" in His presence. Must I always have something going on or conquering some new venture to be well? No, I can be well sitting here typing this post, sitting outside on the ground listening to the rustling leaves or even just even waiting around for a support call. I am learning to be "well" simply because I am His.

On a lighter note, I just finished reading two books, quite an accomplishment for me as I am a slow reader, A Severe Mercy by: Sheldon Vanauken and The Great Gatsby by: F. Scott Fitzgerald. Both were great books and gave two very different pictures of "love" idealized and then realized, one beautiful and one tragic, yet I wholly enjoyed both tales. I end with two quotes, one from each book, that particularly moved me...

"...though I wouldn't have admitted it, even to myself. I didn't want God aboard. He was too heavy. I wanted Him approving from a considerable distance. I didn't want to be thinking of Him. I wanted to be free- like Gypsy. I wanted life itself, the color and fire and loveliness of life. And Christ now and then, like a loved poem I could read when I wanted to. I didn't want us to be swallowed up in God. I wanted holidays from the school of Christ."
-A Severe Mercy

"They were careless people, Tom and Daisy- they smashed up things and creatures and then retreated back into their money or their vast carelessness or whatever it was that kept them together, and let other people clean up the mess they had made."
-The Great Gatsby
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