God’s creative fingerprints are all around us. Nature points to His talented hand and reveals evidence of His original vision. The variety and complexity of God’s creation is, for many, the deciding proof of His existence. While I too appreciate the petals of a peony and sun reflecting off snow-capped mountains, I more often sense God’s presence in things created. God is the original artist. The earth is His glorious exhibit and His work promises to outlast time. We are created in the image of God. In that image, we too are given the authority, not just to appreciate God’s artwork, but to partake in crafting ourselves. I feel closest to God when I investigate the creations of His created. Regardless of an artist’s motivation or beliefs, I see God on display in artistic expression. I sense His compassion when grace transcends tragedy in “Quiet Uptown” from Hamilton. I understand God’s view of people in “The Little Princess” when a poverty stricken Sarah declares herself royalty. I recognize the struggles of those who seek Him scattered throughout the Harry Potter series.
In the conclusion of The Order of the Phoenix, Professor Dumbledore confesses to Harry Potter, "I cared more for your happiness than your knowing the truth.” In Dumbledore’s omission, J.K. Rowling illustrates the struggle between flesh and faith. I know the freedom that comes from the truth of the Gospel. It breathes life into my otherwise vacant soul. However, it also costs something. To walk outside the lines of society creates friction and leads to suffering. Although there is nothing worth more than the life promised by truth, my flesh craves comfort and longs to provide it for others. Dumbledore understood this internal battle. For a long time, the headmaster chose Harry’s childhood and happiness over the harsh reality of Harry’s necessary sacrifice. In the end, Voldemort could not be defeated unless Harry willingly gave his own life. Without this precious knowledge, Harry’s fight against evil would fail and the books would end on a much darker note. His acceptance and surrender to this hard truth led to Voldemort’s demise. Moreover, Harry’s decision to give up everything actually led to a more abundant life for him and the entire wizarding world.
I, like Dumbledore, find it easier to conceal the reality of life here on earth and instead feed into the illusion of momentary happiness. It’s a fool’s errand. In the end, the concealment of the truth costs much more than obedience to its revelation. No one escapes suffering in this life. We merely have the choice to suffer for something enduring or for something fleeting. To suffer for my faith is to suffer as Christ did and this suffering promises that I will share in Christ’s glory.
“Blessed are those who are persecuted for righteousness' sake, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. Blessed are you when others revile you and persecute you and utter all kinds of evil against you falsely on my account.” Matthew 5:10-11 (ESV)
In surrendering my own life, I, like Harry, have so much to gain. The shared glory Christ offers conquers death and promises eternal life devoid of suffering and pain. More than that, through obedience and trust in a gracious God, I have the opportunity to taste future glory while still a resident of this broken earth. God graciously shares glimpses of what is to come to ensure I do not lose hope.
“But they who wait for the LORD shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings like eagles; they shall run and not be weary; they shall walk and not faint.” Isaiah 40:31 (ESV)