All Things Possible
Just Thinking Magazine editor Danielle DuRant describes how “We are God’s poiema—his workmanship, his poetry in motion.”
On rocks near waterfalls are often lovers’ sentiments scrawled in stone. I’ve yet to see a line from “The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock,” but then its theme is not typical lovesick fare.
Rather, T.S. Eliot’s poem reveals how an impersonal modern world can alienate us and cause us to feel powerless. The title character, Prufrock, voices his yearning for love and yet his paralysis to speak to his beloved. “Do I dare/ Disturb the universe?” he asks, believing that any movement will be futile and incur rejection. He characterizes the evening “spread out against the sky/ Like a patient etherized upon a table,” yet it is Prufrock who is anesthetized. He repeatedly speaks of coming and going, unaware of his immobility and indetermination. He is stuck.
Similarly, we are often unknowing subjects etherized by our irreligious culture, which inoculates our souls to believe that this world is all there is or that we are powerless to change. As an aside, but relevant, unforgiveness can have the same effect. Unforgiveness can paralyze us and cause us to forget that God is our judge. And, “Will not the Judge of all the earth do right?” (Genesis 18:25).
Prufrock’s world whispers to him that his emptiness and isolation stem from his separation from his beloved. However, his real tragedy is not only alienation from another human being but also from his Creator. He wonders, “Would it have been worth while/… To say: ‘I am Lazarus, come from the dead.’” But no. He can no more rise above his plight than he can raise himself from the dead.
Yet there is another poem—a grand, epic poem. It is the gospel that runs from Genesis to Revelation, from creation to consummation, from Adam to the Lamb at the center of God’s throne “who takes away the sin of the world” (John 1:29). The wonder of the gospel is that “at just the right time, when we were still powerless, Christ died for the ungodly” (Romans 5:6). Through Jesus’s death and resurrection, we are redeemed and restored. We are cleansed, forgiven, and made new. Only the radical, life-transforming mercy and love of God can reconcile us to Himself and to our fellow human beings. Only his Spirit can invite us to live in the light of his love and forgiveness. Only He can quicken us to extend these precious gifts to others—even, as Jesus said, to our enemies.
Only the radical, life-transforming mercy and love of God can reconcile us to Himself and to our fellow human beings. Only his Spirit can invite us to live in the light of his love and forgiveness. Only He can quicken us to extend these precious gifts to others—even, as Jesus said, to our enemies.
In his sermon “Concerning Deliverance from Sinning,” Charles Spurgeon declared,
The Lord knows right well that you cannot change your own heart, and cannot cleanse your own nature; but He also knows that He can do both…. It would be a very wonderful thing if one could stand at the foot of the Niagara Falls, and could speak a word which should make the river Niagara begin to run up stream, and leap up that great precipice over which it now rolls in stupendous force. Nothing but the power of God could achieve that marvel; but that would be more than a fit parallel to what would take place if the course of your nature were altogether reversed. All things are possible with God. He can reverse the direction of your desires and the current of your life, and instead of going downward from God, He can make your whole being tend upward toward God. That is, in fact, what the Lord has promised to do.
When God’s Spirit lives in us, we are no longer powerless to change. We have been set free to love, to receive and offer his forgiveness. We are God’s poiema—his workmanship, his poetry in motion. Perhaps someone should scrawl that on a postcard from Niagara!
Danielle DuRant is Director of Research & Writing at RZIM and Editor of Just Thinking.
This article appears in the 27.3 edition of our award-winning magazine. Click the button below to download a PDF of this edition.