For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways, saith the Lord. For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways, and my thoughts than your thoughts (Isaiah 58. 8–9)
It’s not that God’s opinions about, and approach to, the issues of our lives are necessarily contrary to our own. Of course, they may be on occasion. What Isaiah addresses is, rather, the comparative difference between God’s view of things and ours, in terms of both perspective and scope. In Google Maps you can gradually pull away, upwards, from a view of your house to the … street … town … county … country … and, finally, the world. Thereafter, you can survey the whole planet, as though suspended in space like a satellite. From up there, I more clearly appreciate my place within the larger context; my orientation to what, ordinarily, would be beyond my field of vision; and my connection to other things and people around about me:
God’s eye-view is neither earth bound nor time bound. He sees everything and, more importantly, each one of us in relation to it. (We’re none of us insignificant in his eyes.) Our rationalisation and intuitions about things, however sophisticated, informed, and well-counselled, are limited in their scope and point of reference. For example, we can make what appears to be a right decision; but, in truth, we’ve little understanding of its consequences for ourselves and others beyond the present. A decision may be our best guess on the basis of the available information, in many cases. We are all partially sighted, in this respect. In the Judaeo-Christian tradition, seeking God’s guidance is, in part, predicated upon an awareness of this deficit. Only he can direct our paths in the light of all that can be known, as well as what’s unknowable to us. He sees the biggest picture. That’s a huge comfort.
There was a helicopter out at sea in the early hours. Always bad news. In the morning, it was announced that a young woman had gone missing. 3.15 am: I stirred as night passed into day. Once my mind had begun to focus, the affairs of yesterday arose as out of the blackness of the bedroom. My body tossed and turned until 5.30 am, when I conceded defeat and got up for an early breakfast. 6.30 pm: A review of my inbox and a reflection upon an apposite passage of Scripture (above). 7.30 pm: A communion. My lower-back pain persists, but it’s improving. Periodically, I lie down on the floor and stare upwards. This morning, I literally prayed to the ceiling. (There are other times when I feel that this is really all that I’m doing.) Strangely, while supine, I heard a voice inside my head say ‘Chapter 9’. This was, likely or not, an auditory hallucination caused by tiredness. But my immediate instinct was to ask: ‘Yes! But what book, page, and line?’ Curious:
8.30 pm: Off to School to prepare for another day of presentations. On the way, I bumped into one of our former MA graduates. She’d gifted me a pug mug some time ago – an act of revenge, because I used to diss her pet dog so mercilessly in tutorials. Bless her! She’s missed dearly:
10.00 am: The start of the second day of presentations. The group comprised a younger age range than those who’d submitted yesterday. A distinctly different dynamic emerged. In the spaces between deliveries, I viewed the progress in the studios:
Raine was decked like a forensic pathologist at a crime scene. Sensible:
During my short lunch break, I walked down Plas Crug Avenue; the rain broke gradually, but never came to anything. 2.00 pm:
The last ‘batch’ of presentees, and a thoroughly rewarding afternoon. Those students who were finalising their third year of undergraduate studies this time twelve months ago have developed astonishingly. They’ve used the MA degree well, and exhibit an unusual maturity, confidence, and sophistication:
6.30 pm: At my desk. A difficult letter to compose. A strange evening. At the close, I felt like Abraham, having been prevented by the angel from sacrificing Isaac at the eleventh hour. Perhaps, this is just a stay of execution. Or else, the beginnings of a new chapter in managing a matter. Is this, now, ‘Chapter 9’, perhaps?