Monday, July 14, 2014


  •  By Tony Harriman

It seems to me that any discussion on the topic of light has to include at least a mention of mirrors.  Mirrors quite cleverly reflect images in the form of light waves.

Mirrors, in effect, are curious things.  When we look at ourselves in a mirror, we see everything about us reflected horizontally.  Our left shoulder now looks like our right shoulder, and so on.  Because of the way our eyes work in our heads, the mirror does not reflect our image vertically; in other words, we don't see our head where our feet should be, etc.

As common as modern domestic mirrors are, the earth actually survived a long time without them, relying largely on buffed-up metal surfaces.  The foil-backed glass and plastics that comprise what we generally think of when we think of mirrors actually show up almost everywhere:

• Vehicles
• CDs (Compact Discs)
• Cameras
• Telescopes
• Security Systems
• Public Restrooms

To name just a few.

In common mirrors the reflective surface is applied behind the glass, and a very faint second image is produced by the reflection of the glass surface itself; the reason being that a very slight refraction is caused by the light passing twice through the glass surface of the mirror.  Mirrors which are to be used in astronomical telescopes are either produced using highly-polished metal, or have the mirrored surface applied to the front surface of the glass, or whatever substrate is to be used.

All of the planets and moons in our solar system have no light of their own; the only reason we see them as they shine at night (and sometimes during early evening and morning, as does Venus) is because their surfaces act like mirrors, and the light of our sun reflects off of them.  Our moon is as bright as it is because it reflects light from our sun.  Though a very dim representation, the moon and planets are in a sense acting as mirrors; there's no high definition of images, but definitely lots of light.

I once read an article about a mirror which had been set up on the moon, and which pointed at earth.  The purpose being that a beam of light may be sent to the moon, and its speed measured by how long the beam took to return.  That's the simple version; but it took some clever, engineering minds to work it out.

Mirrors really are everywhere in the natural world, from the still, calm surface of a lazy summer lake, to the northern harbors of North America;  in fact, just about every body of water -- large or small -- offers itself as a reflector of something in the distance.  Even the lowly puddle will look back at you if you look into it.  Some liquids, such as mercury, will cast a gorgeous reflection; some of you may remember that all thermometers contained mercury before it came to be recognized as a toxic substance -- hence the expression, "the mercury is rising," meant that summer was coming.  Mercury's molecular structure is so dense that its surface is super smooth looking just like a silver mirror.

Here's an interesting observation: most of us know what a mirage is.  A mirage, in simple terms, is what appears to be a reflection off of the atmosphere showing objects and events which exist perhaps many miles beyond where the reflection of them is actually seen.  A real curious phenomenon which many times I have promised myself I would investigate further is that of reflections which may be seen on hot road surfaces.  The phenomenon I'm referring to is the one that makes the road look like there's a huge puddle of water in the distance in front of you as you drive.  As you approach the puddle, it disappears.  What's really curious about this is that the puddle of water ... which isn't really there ... reflects objects which are beyond itself, so that you may see the colors of distant signposts,  or the images of cars traveling toward you.  I used to think that, for this oddity to appear, the sun had to be behind you just a little; but these mirrors in the road (mirages) even show up at night, and it seems not to matter whether the air is cold or hot.  In a documentary I watched recently, evidence was presented that the iceberg which sank the Titanic was hidden from the view of the lookouts for a full thirty minutes by a cold water mirage, where the air in front of the ship acted as a lens, masking the deadly iceberg with a reflected image from a long way away.  I'm seriously going to have to investigate this a little further.

Some other time I suppose someone should raise the discussion of cloaking technology which is designed to bend light around an object, making it appear that the object is not there at all.  But not right now.

Right now, let's consider a spiritual application of the mirror, how will reflected spiritual light from God be seen by those looking at Him through us?  Won't people have a distorted view?  Won't everything seem backward?  Well … yes — and no.  Light from God doesn't come directly from God to us.  If I understand my Bible correctly, light from God begins its journey to the human family as a reflection off of the person of Jesus.  So if I am acting as a mirror, then by the time the light reaches another soul the adjustment will be made naturally before it reaches that soul, much like a periscope works on a submarine; multiple mirrors are set up so that the image seen is a true picture of what's going on above the surface of the water; turn the periscope left ... and you'll see left.  It seems that God had this thought in mind when He made us, since Jesus very plainly stated that a person who sees Him will be seeing the Father.  it would seem, then, that our responsibility as those who see God through Jesus, should spend our energies turning others to Jesus so that they may see the Father for themselves.  The Father, of course, probably doesn't need an elaborate setup of spiritual mirrors to communicate with us, any more than a computer would need its data streamed in back to front.  But because I am a believer in the idea that all created things are telling us something about their Creator, I have to stop and wonder what is being taught by the concept of the mirror.

Reflecting the light of God appears often to be an involuntary action on the part of human beings.  Though the meaning is not fully understood, mankind has been made in the image of God.  In our frame appears to be the ability to, not only act as prisms giving definition to the light shining in and out of us, but also to reflect the light off of us.  God has made us so, and there is probably very little we can do about it.  I imagine we could be an excellent surface in the service of God, off of which He might fully shine ... if we'd just keep still and cooperate.  I'm reminded of a verse, "Be STILL and KNOW that I am God."

There is another avenue we might travel as we explore the mirror phenomenon:  and that's the avenue down which we may consider the idea of God actually hiding His people from those who would do them harm at the close of the world's history.

Obviously God doesn't need to use smoke and mirrors such as a magician might do; but it would be a big mistake to ignore the very real notion that God has ways of hiding and revealing things from human eyes as He sees fit.  To my mind the Bible is full of accounts where the senses of human beings were either closed or opened as the need arose:

• Elisha's servant had his eyes opened to the reality of an entire army fighting for them (2 Kings 6:17).

• God opened the eyes of Hagar and she saw a well of water (Genesis 21:19).

• God opened the eyes of Balaam (Numbers 22:31).

There are also many accounts of God closing or opening the eyes of perception: 

• Isaiah prophesied of the closing of the people's eyes of understanding (Isaiah 29:10).

• Daniel was told that the words he was inquiring about were closed and sealed till the time of the end; so it wouldn't have mattered how clearly the words were explained, Daniel would not have been able to understand them at that time (Daniel 12).

• The eyes of Adam and Eve were opened as they ate the forbidden fruit (Genesis 3:7).

So read again the verse: "Be still …," and picture a moment when God has His hand around you, shielding you from your enemies.  You can see them, but they cannot see you.  At that moment … be still … don't make a sound; because if you do, someone will hear you.  Does anyone remember the accounts of Jewish families hiding in the attics and cellars of Samaritans in an attempt to escape the slaughter of the Nazis?  Have you ever read books about how the families had to be motionless during the daytime so they wouldn't be heard?  God is well able to protect you … just shut up and be still.

Josephus, a Bible-times historian, wrote of the siege of Jerusalem in AD 70; he recorded that in the sky were seen images of Roman armies gathering for battle.  Obviously the armies weren't in the sky; they were just reflections, supernatural or otherwise.  So whatever you want to make of that, you shouldn't miss the fact that people in Jerusalem were given a glimpse of an imminent attack, and if they were going to get out, now was the time to do it.  And many did … and lived to tell the tale.

Just a snippet of an observation worth mentioning, though maybe unnecessary, is that a person may not see his or her reflection in either a photograph of a mirror, or in a video recording of a mirror.  You have to stop and think about that thought for a moment, and maybe you've never considered it before, but it's worth thinking through -- because somewhere in that reality, God has provided Himself a way of protecting you.

From the idea of mirrors we can see how God, the Inventor of mirrors, can make something seem very close when it's not close at all.  We can also see how something may be hidden from our eyes completely.  The thing or person may still be present, but cannot be seen because of a very simple introduction of the shield and buckler of the Lord, hidden under the shadow of His wings.  Perhaps these verses with which we are very familiar, even though they have a spiritual counterpart, actually mean exactly what they say.  I'm willing to place my trust in that.  

And that's just my take on it ....

Wednesday, April 9, 2014

Prism Breakout!

  •  By Tony Harriman

If you weren't listening closely, you could easily confuse the sounds of the words "prism" and "prison."  Though very close in sound, these two words couldn't be farther apart in meaning.  If you wanted to have a little tongue-in-cheek wordplay, you might say that these two words are antonyms of each other.

A prison is designed with the intention of keeping something in.  The effect of a prism is to set something free.

Let's explore ….

There comes a time in a person's life when they are introduced to the idea that there are bad people in the world, people who intend to do us harm, and prisons have been built to house them and keep them away from the rest of society.  The worldwide prison system idea has been around a long time … because bad people have been around a long time.  Once a person goes behind the gates, unless they break out, there they will stay until their sentence is completed.  The prison is specifically designed to keep them in.

There comes another time in a person's life when they are introduced to the concept of the prism.  A person doesn't have to go very far, or spend a lot of money on college courses, before they can see a prism at work.  Prisms are doing their thing almost every time we turn around.  When light hits a prism, wonderful things happen.

There are so many observations that can be made about the wonders of light that would take far more time than I want to invest right here; so this will be brief.  I know for a fact that some of you reading this short piece will have all kinds of lights going on regarding this topic, and I invite you to share those observations in a short paper — because they're worth sharing.  I'd like to park on a few of my own observations for just a couple of minutes.

Probably the first place any of us notice a prism at work is in a sunny sky after a rain shower; that huge multi-colored bow is caused by the reflection and refraction of light passing through and among tiny water droplets in the sky.  Countless droplets are producing the behavior of prisms and, acting together, they cause that dazzling phenomenon we know as … a rainbow.

With the sun at your back, rainbows are only ever seen in the sky in front of you; a rainbow caused by the sun never appears between you and the sun.  The colors are always in the same order in a rainbow: red on the outside, blue on the inside.  Occasionally a second rainbow appears outside of what is known as the "Primary Rainbow," and the colors are then reversed: red on the inside, blue on the outside — reversed, but always in their order.

Since the rainbow is also a product of our eyes — our perception — it may never be approached.  One can never dig up the pot of gold at the end of the rainbow, because one can never stand at the end of a rainbow he or she can see with the eyes.

A black-and-white photo of a rainbow produces no perceivable banding such as can be seen in a color photo, just a gradual intensity and less intensity of image.

Rainbows can be caused by any form of airborne water, including the jet of mist coming from that little hole in the garden hose.

The application of some serious math causes what we know as rainbows.  Should a person be dropped off on a desolate, unorganized world somewhere out yonder and be told to make it pretty, that person would be hard pressed to invent some of the serious calculations needed to make even a start on a rainbow.  Imagine if that person wanted to invent a soap bubble; not only would he or she have to invent the math necessary to enclose a lump of gas in a non-solid object, but now a way has to be found to have the inside and outside surfaces of the bubble produce … a rainbow.  It's just a simple bubble — but not so simple to invent.  Bubbles and rainbows have been around a long time, and were probably on the mind of King Solomon when he observed that there was nothing new under the sun.  Human beings invent cell phones, computers and televisions (out of existing material, we might add); we don't wake up one morning and introduce the world to a whole new natural phenomenon we just invented — like floating axes or jugs of oil that never run dry.

My wife is a person who enjoys the beauty of light reflecting off the many shiny things of our world, so this past Christmas I bought her one of those wind chimes that comprises a sparkly butterfly and a small multi-sided crystal.  The sound of the chimes is delightful in the breeze, but the instrument really comes to life when the sun hits the crystal; the whole side of the house gets covered in a living tapestry of moving rainbows — totally delightful!  And the colors? Always in their order.  The little crystal is acting as a prism, casting forth small packets of colors as it turns.

One may ask, "Where do all the colors come from?"  The truth is … all the colors of the rainbow are contained in a single beam of light; all the colors mixed together produce what we see as white (at least as close to white light as seems natural).  On the other side of the prism, the side toward the light, the light in appearance is actually colorless to our eyes.  All the colors are there, but, unaided, we are unable to see them.

My mind is brought back to the passages in the Bible stating that "God is Light;" that Jesus is "The Light of the World;" that the disciples of Jesus were to continue the quest of being "The Light of the World;" that they are to "Walk in the Light" as He is "In the Light."  Though definitely not fully comprehended in its day (or even in this), the concept, to my mind, was definitely an inspired idea.

So with that thought in mind, let's explore how we might find spiritual parallels in the world of light.

God, of course, is the ultimate source of light — spiritual light — light that matters to the heavenly welfare of thinking beings.  Human beings might be regarded as the instruments — the prisms —  being used on earth to set loose among the people the many aspects of that light … at least, the light we can see (remember, in the physical world, the human eye can distinguish only a fraction of the light available).  So, in a sense, it's our job to keep our surfaces clean and polished so that all the available light can get through to us — and also get out of us.  Knowing some of you as I do, I don't doubt that many of you who are reading this just dusted off many pages of mental information regarding what must be done to keep the windows un-misted.  That's not where I want to go, so let me pull your attention back to the light.

One of the ways investigators in the policing world determine whether or not a suspect is telling the truth is that the suspect is asked to give an alibi … what was he or she doing at the time of the crime being investigated.  After the suspect gives an account, he or she is then asked again to gives details of the time in question — but in reverse order.  A made up story will be very difficult to keep track of, even under the best of circumstances.  A suspect who leaves out a detail — however minor — will quickly get attention from those who are paying attention.  By contrast, if light from God enters the mind of a human being, then that light will always tell the same story, whether it starts at the beginning, or the end.  Light from God never lies; it always tells the same story.  Heavenly light shared by a human being may be a little dim; the colors may not be so vivid … but all the colors will be there nevertheless — in their order.  Once you become acquainted with the orderliness of the colors of the rainbow, you recognize the pattern every time you see it.  If you should ever be introduced to a rainbow whose colors where not lined up correctly, you would spot the error immediately.  The colors may be in a different order than you are used to, but once you understand why, then the fix in your mind is easy to make.

As far as we can tell, human beings get heavenly light from one or more of three sources: The Book of Nature; the Book of the Bible, and from mental inspiration and stimulation.  These three God-given methods, if they are from the same source, will always tell the same story, never deviate from each other.  If one of these methods appears to contain a unique snippet of information, then that snippet should be added to the information offered by the other two methods.  If the Book of Nature appears to tell a story which differs from the other two stories, then I believe close examination should be made of my interpretation of the story given by the Book of Nature.  If my mind wakes one morning with the flash of an idea, an idea I believe has been given by inspiration from God, but the idea conflicts with the lessons offered in Nature or the Bible, then I really ought to give some serious consideration regarding where that inspiration might have come from … because there is evidence of another spirit, a darker spirit, seeking to enlighten my mind to who knows what end — certainly not Heavenward.

To my mind, the Word of God — in the Bible, the Book of Nature, or inspiration — should always paint the same picture.  Take the colors of the Ten Commandments as an example; they always read the same.  Actually, all the colors of the Commandments read the same … even if you jumble the colors up.  What lesson from the rainbow might we apply to the Commandments if we are introduced to the idea that one of the colors doesn't belong in the rainbow?  What might we conclude about an artist who paints a rainbow for us, but leaves out one or more of the plainly-visible colors?  Well, of course, that math is easy to do, isn't it?  The artist has unwittingly, or otherwise, filtered out part of the light.  Perhaps the artist is color blind — a color-blind person would probably not be a reliable artist.

Occasionally accounts arise in the Bible that seem most unreasonable:

• An ax head that floats when sought by someone tossing a stick (2 Kings 6:4-6).

• A cruse of oil that never runs dry when blessed by the prophet (1 Kings 17:16).

• Manna that falls from heaven for six-day sessions, but not on the seventh day (Exodus 16).

• A child born from a virgin (Matthew 1 & 2).

• The feeding of 5,000 men from the lunch of a young boy (Matthew 14).

• The raising of Lazarus four days after his death (John 11).

These Biblical accounts, and many others like them, may baffle us.  Though unlikely, not one of them is a direct contradiction to any other part of inspiration — be it in the Book of nature or due to direct inspiration from heaven.  In other words, just because our understanding of reason and physics dictates that the world should behave in a certain way, doesn't mean that there is no more to learn.  Our understanding of physics dictates that water shall boil at a certain temperature; but one day a man realizes that the water he is heating begins to boil at less than the prescribed temperature.  Eventually it is realized that the man was half-way up a mountain, where the differing atmospheric pressures change things — the physics don't change … but the physics have additional math applied which, up to that point, no one knew existed.  There is no command in the Bible forbidding the floating of ax-heads; no command forbidding the "actual" raising of the dead; no command saying how many may be fed from a plate of food.

There is evidently no color in the light which is of more importance than any other.  The fact that the light travels packaged together should be an indication that it's all necessary — even the light we are unaware of.  Just because we can't see it, doesn't mean we don't need it.  If the colors of the rainbow had each a mind and a mouth, they would think and state that they are each a part of the body of the beam of light; no color would feel more important than any other.  Each color is different — but no lesser, nor greater than the neighbors.

In a manner of speaking, the prism is setting the colors free.  The colors are being defined for us by an object outside of us.  In reality, the prism doesn't separate the colors; it just spreads the colors out so that they may be more easily defined — but the colors are inseparable.

Someone should share with us their thoughts on the marvelous math and machinery of the lighthouse … the one keeping the sailors aware of the rocks beneath the waves.

Someone should share their observations regarding the beauty and power of what we know as a laser beam, able to cut a hole through steel, and yet be gentle enough to allow the skillful performance of eye surgery.

And someone should seriously investigate what might cause a green rainbow around a throne in Heaven (Revelation 4:3).

Because the lessons of light being continually unlocked by modern science appear to me to have no ending.

And that's just my take on it ….

Thursday, February 27, 2014

We're Better than This!

  •  By Tony Harriman

Last weekend, in one of the largest stadiums in the Russian Federation, the Winter Olympic Games for 2014 came to a close with the usual call to the youth of the world to assemble at the next venue four years on.  It was quite an impressive sight to see so many nations of the world represented by a handful of young nationals, one of whom from each nation having the honor of bearing the flag for his or her country.  There were the usual celebrations of joy … and tears.  National pride meets individual determination, and the crowd cheers for those who do well … and those who come close to doing well.

The Olympic Games have come a long way since their humble beginning in Greece almost three thousand years ago.  Now, just about every nation in the world sends delegates to either the summer or the winter Games, including Jamaica, which actually sent a bobsled team.  Right now, the Games are the only opportunity the people of the world have where they can come together for a common cause.  Yes, everyone is competing against each other, and we would all like our own country to do well in the competition, but recognition is given by all to those who succeed, regardless of the country of origin.

It's sad that 7 billion+ earthlings can find so little reason to assemble themselves together.  Of course, it's not really the fault of the average people; it's the result of centuries of disagreement and distrust among the elders.  Children have to learn prejudices; they have to learn to be bigots, racists, chauvinists, or supremacists.  And do you think they learn those behaviors from other children?  Possibly.  But I would place a hearty bet on the reality that those other children learned those behaviors from adults.  Wouldn't you agree that bullies learn to be that way because they see that behavior in an adult?  A spouse physically or verbally abusing a partner is installing that same warped mental software in his or her children.  Eventually those children leave the playground and go on to lead some portion of the world — maybe just their own family … but maybe to lead some major area of the planet.  And maybe one day they wake up with a grand idea to rid the world of all the troublemakers, whose only fault is that they don't fit the ideal of the person in the Big Chair.  This grand idea was the fuel which powered the Nazi machine, and time hasn't yet healed the wound.

The mindset that should disturb you more than any other is the one that rests on any one of these pillars:

• My toys are better than your toys

• My Dad is stronger than your Dad

• My school is better than your school

• My team is better than your team

• My town is better than your town

• My country is better than your country

• My language is better than your language

• My kids are better than yours

• My skin color is better than yours

• My ethnicity is better than yours

• My gender is better than your gender

• My line of work is better than yours

• My religion is better than your religion

• My church is better than yours

• My view of the world is better than yours

• My understanding of things is better than yours

And, of course, the platform being supported by all these pillars, though not easily seen:

• I'm better than you — I … am better than you!

I don't think it would do any of us any harm at all to try to realign our minds to the true realities of life.  For instance, next time you have to fill in some official form, try to think of things in these terms:

When asked —

• Race?  Answer: Human

• Citizenship?  Answer: Earth

I'm not sure who's responsible, but there are minds on the planet that have a very "small" view of things.  These minds spend very "little" time considering the grand design of creation.  Consider that our own galaxy would take 100,000 years to cross traveling at the speed of light, and that the galaxy contains some 400 billion (with a "B") stars similar (though many incredibly larger) to our own sun.  Then think about how petty and insignificant my views of my own superiority really are, in the light of the fact that there are innumerable galaxies just like our own spread across a universe that appears to have no end — NO END; that's a pretty long way to go on any tank of fuel.

It's unfortunate that we humans are so high-minded.  There would be no need for all these many thousands of languages on the planet if our goals were loftier than simply those of trying to save our own skins, and to be better than everyone else.  But, no, I think MY way of doing it is the best way.  It's true, my way may BE the best way, but I don't have the right to force others to do it MY way.  The world has endured more than its fair share of Hitlers — even the religious kind — throughout its long history, and we don't care for any more, thank you very much!

The conspiracy theorist might tell you that any plan to get the world on the same page has been devised by the Devil, and to a point I would have to agree.  After all, on what meaningful, grand idea would human beings want to work together in the first place?  Well, how about human rights?  And could we come up with a plan that will help people feed themselves without having to rely on a handout of some kind?  How about just keeping the place clean? Or some environmental plan that will help us stop killing ourselves and other creatures sharing the air?  Might we now avoid the spread of many common diseases through simply teaching the world the basics of personal hygiene?  Let's face it, teaching people to wash their hands after they evacuate should be right up there with teaching drivers to use a turn signal on a car, right?  The neglect of one of those two is possibly more dangerous than the other, and infinitely more stomach-turning.  Is it really so hard to consider working alongside someone who is "Not like me"?

Personally, I enjoy the concept of the Olympic Games.  I wish the road to the podium were not fraught with so many bruises and disappointments, but the pain seems par for the course.  One has to lift a pound or two before he can push a ton or more.  The Apostle Paul likened the race of the runner to that of the seeker for an immortal crown.  Paul observed that he who sought the mastery would be temperate in all things.  Paul is definitely making reference to the Greek Olympic Games, but he's clearly trying to help the Corinthians see that there is something better to strive for — not a rusty medal … but eternal life.

Just a little aside here: I have wondered why an iron medal hasn't yet been added to those medals that are awarded to the winners.  Those familiar with the Biblical Book of Daniel will remember the metal man in Daniel 2; he has a head of gold, breast and arms of silver, belly of brass … and legs of iron — seeming to represent a succession of earthly kingdoms, beginning with Nebuchadnezzar.  This image may have nothing to do with anything at the games, but, being a curious soul, I have wondered why there aren't more medals awarded to those who fall even farther behind; it would certainly give the conspiracy theorist something to chew on, don't you think?  Where would you stop with the awards though — clay medallions?

To close on a very serious note, we've got to find a way to stop being so stuck in a rut of our own making — all these walls and fences … some keeping people in … some keeping people out.  This may be who we are, but this isn't who we ought to be.  We may be mammals, but we aren't dumb animals.  If you want to confess that you're better than something, confess this: We're better than this, and it's time we started acting that way.

And that's just my take on it ….

Friday, January 24, 2014

"The Living and the Dead"

  •  By Tony Harriman

In 1998 my family and I finished building our home and moved in just before Thanksgiving of that year.  It was a thrilling experience; everything about the place was so shiny new.  The paintwork was clean and fresh.  The carpet throughout the house looked new; smelled new; felt new.  The bathroom and kitchen furniture was sparkly and squeaky clean.  The cement of the garage floor still had that freshly-poured look and smell.  One of the last things to be finished was the decking out the back of the house.  The deck boards were beige-colored and straight, and allowed us to enjoy the great outdoors without having to share our food with the fire ants.  The warmth lingers a little longer in Alabama in November, and as the sun heated the deck boards the sweetest aroma of freshly-cut wood rose into the air; it was a treat to go outside.

Well, time has gone on.  We've repainted, several times in some areas.  Some rooms in the house have better-looking carpet than do others, since it takes a little more effort to get that kind of stain out of that particular carpet; the concrete around the house looks pretty much like you would expect after all this time.  And the decking — let's talk about the decking, because I believe there's a wonderful illustration lying on the deck boards waiting to be picked up.

Perhaps nowhere else around the house is the evidence of time more clearly revealed than on the deck boards.  All of the wood is gray, despite my best efforts to pressure wash and seal it.  All of the boards and spindles have a curve or a twist, some more than others, but none of them are straight anymore.  The top handrails are especially in need of attention, and the reason for that appears to be that they are first in the line casting a shadow caused by the sun; in other words, the sun hits them full on.

When I look around the forest from our back deck, I see a lot of wood absolutely thriving.  There are huge trees swaying in the breeze, their long, waving branches providing homes for birds and squirrels.  Some of these trees have been there almost as long as I've been alive; why haven't they grayed up and turned to dust?  Well, of course, the answer is obvious: they are alive, and the sun nourishes them with its rays.

And therein lies the incredible contrast between the living … and the dead.

All the while the tree remains alive, it thrives on the rays of the sun.  But once the tree is cut down, cut up, trimmed and nailed to the framework outside my house … a process and a battle begin to keep it looking nice.  Even though the tree is now dead, I can, for a while, keep it looking respectable; but only for a while, because, no matter how hard I try, eventually the wood is going to return to the dust from whence it was taken.  The light from the sun will whittle away at the surface of the wood until all integrity is gone and, in some cases, all that's keeping the fibers together is the paint.  Hopefully nobody will break a leg by falling through a part that looks solid but is actually rotted out.

To my mind, the spiritual application is begging to be applied.  Spiritual light from the Throne of God is constantly pouring into our world.  Whatever the verse fully means in First John which reads that "God is light …," we shouldn't miss the face value of the text.  Whether spiritual or literal, without light our world as we know it would cease to exist.  Perhaps we can break the spiritual concept down:  Spiritual light pours from the Throne, and all things which are conscious and spiritually alive are nourished and live a spiritually thriving life.  You've probably unknowingly spent time around these people; body language and words issuing from them tend toward higher purposes; more attention focused on the well-being of others than on their own spotless behavior.  Someone once made the observation in my hearing that if Jesus were here today, the chances are we wouldn't recognize Him.  I've thought about that over the years, and I tend to agree.  My view of the world and its needs are far too selfish, and I have trouble getting my head out of my own nose long enough to recognize when a good, meaningful work is being done — or needs to be done.  And the chances are that Jesus would want to spend time in places and around people that are beneath my dignity.  That sounds so pathetic; I should consider deleting the thought.

What happens when spiritual light falls on someone who's spiritually dead?  I suppose for this exercise I have to try not to be too judgmental, because I can only use myself and my own senses to find an example.  I have to safely assume that there was a time in my life when I was spiritually dead; I had no interest in Godly things and was tending more toward the grave than toward Heaven.  One day, perhaps in a moment, the light from Heaven crept over my horizon and touched that little part of my spirit that was not completely dead — it had to be there, otherwise nothing would have been nourished.  Perhaps the conditions were so arranged that the seed of Heaven which had lain dormant for so long was finally warmed and nourished.  And just like seeds that awaken in the ground, when they burst forth into life … everything around them gets shifted — literally.  I love that thought, and invite you to dwell on that concept for just a quiet moment.

It has been my observation that when the Lord steps into a person's life, things are never the same afterward.  Things aren't always better, but they often are, and these better things cause believers to carry their testimony to the prison and the stake.

But let's talk more about what might happen when Heavenly light falls on the spiritually dead.  If we can gain anything from the lesson in the physical world, we can find insight into what might happen in the spiritual world.  I believe it would be fair to say that if a dead piece of deck board should be nailed up outside my house, then that piece of decking would have once been alive.  You have to have life before you have death.  So my illustration above should be squinted at.  In other words, I wasn't spiritually dead, I just hadn't been spiritually awakened — my feet and brain were firmly planted on the solid earth, and really couldn't see much higher.

So then it appears that a person who has been very much spiritually alive … can one day wind up very much spiritually dead.  And once that happens, a period of decay — sometimes a very long period — sets in until there is nothing left of the person at all.  I suppose one would have to be careful to avoid spiritual death at all costs, because, in the illustration of the tree … there's no coming back — no return to swaying happily in the breeze.  The dead tree eventually provides food for worms, and nutrients for other vegetation of the forest.

Is it even fair to think about who might be spiritually dead?  Probably not.  Though when you look at the behavior of some individuals around the world, and you consider some of the body language and words spilling off some people, you have to wonder if their anger and lust is the fruit of death, hate and self-righteousness; or is it indeed the fruit of a Holy Spirit of a Holy God?  How can I know who to rely on?  Is this person solid wood?  or just pretty paint covering up rotten wood?  If I lean on this person, humanly-speaking, will he or she uphold me?  Or will I fall through and break a leg?  Personally, my philosophy is that if I don't like the fruit of the person, I don't spend much time around them or feeding on their food.  Yes, I realize that can be construed as immaturity, because how can I be sure that their hideous fruit is not the result of insanity, rather than bad food?  Fair question.  Answer: I don't know.  Have to poke out a toe and test the integrity, I suppose.

A final thought: While we are alive physically, light changes our appearance.  Just take a look in the mirror after you've spent a day working under the hot, bright sun.  The physical sun in our lives changes the pigment in our skin — the Spiritual Son in our lives changes the appearance of our soul.

And that's just my take on it ….

The Story of Redemption - Narrated by Tony Harriman

Steps to Christ - Audiobook

Thoughts from the Mount of Blessing - Audiobook

Christ's Object Lessons - Audiobook

Up a Tree with Christina Bee - Audiobook

Leave the Thorns Alone - Music CD