the colossians project: studying & blogging, one verse at a time

the limits of a linear life.

By on November 21, 2013 in colossians project, my stuff with 1 Comment

linear-01In the beginning of Colossians chapter 2, Paul gives voice to a heartache we all share:

For I want you to know how great a struggle I have for you and for those at Laodicea and for all who have not seen me face to face… Colossians 2:1

Paul shares his great internal war — his weary soul-battle — for something he has not yet seen.

I sat with a few of those struggles this week.

A mother who pours everything into her daughter, longing to see something good drip back out.

A girl who is taking steps away from addiction, but hasn’t yet broken its chains.

A friend who loves and trains people well to build the team she wants at work, only to have them move on or move away, taking her knowledge and care with them.

Each one works and prays for a dream she longs to see face to face. Each one invests, hoping that this step or that plan will pay off in the end with the prize.

We long for our lives to be linear like this — a flawless, ordered timeline. Birth, school, graduation, marriage, babies. Perfect job, and happy life.

We crave cause and effect. If this, then that.

With linear, friends stay close, people don’t stray, teams stay together. No one divorces or disappoints or disowns us. Everyone behaves, everyone loves, everyone dies in the right order.

But then it happens. Linear breaks. Whether in work or marriage or parenting or friendship or church planting, the line splinters off in shards and pieces, and we find ourselves wandering out on the graph. Nothing is making sense. Nothing is making a difference.

We’ve lost sight of the line.

We’ve lost sight of our God.

Because, we know, of course, that God is the Alpha and the Omega — the start and the finish. He is the author of linear, His timeline stretching out in one long, eternal arrow from east to west. To stay close to Him, we think, we must stay close to the line.

But we are wrong.

God is not linear at all. He is exponential, dimensional, an infinite sphere.

The earth is filled with His glory, His beginning and end expanding eternally in all directions. Every point, every line, every plane is full of Him. All the causes, and all the effects. A plus B equals any letter He chooses — maybe letters we haven’t even heard of yet — to the praise of His glorious grace.

We look back at our line with longing — making our lives about a small series of dots — interpreting our story through the lens of linear.

And we miss it.

We miss how He can light our faithfulness into a lamp for the world (Psalm 37:6). How he can grow our grief into oaks of righteousness for a display of His splendor (Isaiah 61:3). How he can ignite our simple obedience into fireworks of redemption for our descendants, blazing in all directions (Genesis 22:18).

We miss how He holds our trust in Him up as a treasured prize, displaying us as trophies of His grace for the heavens to see (Ephesians 2:6-7).

God is writing our stories for His exponential glory. Because our lives are now woven into His, they have impact beyond all we can imagine.

Even if we’re off the line. Even if we skip some points, or plot them backwards, or never see them face to face.

We find our peace and purpose beyond the limits of linear, in the embrace of our infinite God.

Read the next post in The Colossians Project.

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About The Colossians Project

About The Colossians Project: I’m blogging through the entire letter from the Apostle Paul to the church in Colossae. You can start from the beginning here or learn more about why here.

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1 Comment

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  1. Brenda says:

    The limits of a linear life (The Colossians Project) has given me much insight into my experience of my dots going into a disarray. Thank you for showing how no matter which way the journey takes God has everything in his hand. Many thanks.

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