September 9, 2020
Pastor Dan Hollis
The problems of our lives and our world can easily become so big for us that they are all that we can see. They are certainly what we need to be focusing on in order to make a better world for ourselves and those who come after, but what’s worse is when they become our entire universe. The problems we face can easily dwarf us, surround us, and block our view of the beauty and blessings that live both far and near.
I read a book years ago called Flatland, by Edwin A. Abbott. The story was a bit abstract; all the characters were geometric shapes—squares, triangles, circles, etc.—and they lived in a two-dimensional world. Think a piece of paper. No concept of up or down, just left/right and forward/back. Flat. Not only could they not look up… “up” just didn’t exist for them.
Take a piece of paper and draw a triangle on it. With the paper resting flat on a table or desk, keep your eye on the triangle as you lower yourself slowly to the paper’s level until your eyes are almost perfectly lined up with the flat sheet. Did you see how the triangle slowly began to disappear for you? Now, right before you reach complete flatness and lose sight of what’s “on top” of the page, what does the triangle look like to you? Or what would it look like if you were a native of Flatland and could truly become one with the sheet of paper? All you would see is a line, right? One side of the triangle (what we in three-dimensions might call a face); all the rest are hidden to you because you can’t see over-top of it anymore. You couldn’t even tell it was a triangle unless you paced the long journey around each side to inspect it from all angles. And you certainly wouldn’t know that it had a “top,” or what’s hidden on its underside on the back of the page.
The main conflict in the story began when a three-dimensional shape (like a sphere or a cube or even you or me) came down to Flatland, plucked up one of the flat two-dimensional shapes, and showed it that there was a whole world above that it didn’t even know existed.
“‘Stay thou there in thy place.’ Saying these words, he leaped with great dexterity into the sea (if I may so call it) of Flatland, right in the midst of the ring of Counsellors. ‘I come,’ said he, ‘to proclaim that there is a land of Three Dimensions.”
That image has always stuck with me, because even as the three-dimensional creatures that we are, there is still more above and beyond the world we know and understand.
The difficulties and the struggles and the pain we encounter in our lives are real and true and complicated, but there is also something beyond. Something that we can’t see. Something that would—if an angel (or angle, even) from a higher dimension could come down and bear us up—completely change our perspective on our own lives. Not only would it reveal a divine universe our spirits struggle to even imagine, but too it would allow us to see so many different faces of the monolithic problems of our world that we think it impossible to get around.
Until that day comes, however, the very knowledge of it should still be able to change us and our perspectives on everything. There is always more going on than meets the eye, there is always more than one face to any situation, and there is always a way around, over, under, or even through… even when we can’t see it.
“I pray that the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of glory, may give you a spirit of wisdom and revelation as you come to know him, so that, with the eyes of your heart enlightened, you may know what is the hope to which he has called you, what are the riches of his glorious inheritance among the saints,” Ephesians 1:17-18
Together, we can bring Christ's word and work to the world.