There's a Trick of the Light I'm Learning to Do

This is a collection of songs I wrote and recorded in January - March, 2020 while on sabbatical from ministry. They each deal with a different aspect or expression of the Gospel. Click on the image above to listen.

Three Hands Clapping

This is my latest recording project (released May 27, 2019). It is a double album of 22 songs, which very roughly track the story of my life... a sort of musical autobiography, so to speak. Click the album image to listen.

Ghost Notes

Ghost Notes
A collections of original songs I wrote in 2015, and recorded with the FreeWay Musical Collective. Click the album image to listen.

inversions

Recorded in 2014, these songs are sort of a chronicle of my journey through a pastoral burn-out last winter. They deal with themes of mental-health, spiritual burn-out and depression, but also with the inexorable presence of God in the midst of darkness. Click the album art to download.

soundings

soundings
click image to download
"soundings" is a collection of songs I recorded in September/October of 2013. Dealing with themes of hope, ache, trust and spiritual loss, the songs on this album express various facets of my journey with God.

bridges

bridges
Click to download.
"Bridges" is a collection of original songs I wrote in the summer of 2011, during a soul-searching trip I took out to Alberta; a sort of long twilight in the dark night of the soul. I share it here in hopes these musical reflections on my own spiritual journey might be an encouragement to others: the sun does rise, blood-red but beautiful.

echoes

echoes
Prayers, poems and songs (2005-2009). Click to download
"echoes" is a collection of songs I wrote during my time studying at Briercrest Seminary (2004-2009). It's called "echoes" partly because these songs are "echoes" of times spent with God from my songwriting past, but also because there are musical "echoes" of hymns, songs or poems sprinkled throughout the album. Listen closely and you'll hear them.

Accidentals

This collection of mostly blues/rock/folk inspired songs was recorded in the spring and summer of 2015. I call it "accidentals" because all of the songs on this project were tunes I have had kicking around in my notebooks for many years but had never found a "home" for on previous albums. You can click the image to download the whole album.

blogs I follow

Readings, 2020

Readings, 2020
Paradise Lost, John Milton

Adorning the Dark, Andrew Peterson

The Soul of Shame, Curt Thompson

Cure for the Common Life, Max Lucado

Halos and Avatars, Craig Detweiller, ed.

Fool's Talk, Os Guinness

Brendan, Frederick Buechner

The Screwtape Letters

Surprised by Joy, C. S. Lewis

The Pilgrim's Regress, C. S. Lewis

Becoming Whole, Brian Finkert and Kelly Kapic

Real Sex, Lauren Winner

Out of the Silent Planet, C. S. Lewis

Voyage to Venus, C. S. Lewis

That Hideous Strength, C. S. Lewis

Till We Have Faces, C. S. Lewis

random reads

The Thursday Review: Apart from the Father?

First published September 26, 2012



I sort of killed a sparrow yesterday. Not singlehandedly, and certainly not intentionally, but I was walking my dog last night, and as we came down the side walk, I noticed a sparrow sitting in the grass at the edge of a lawn. My dog was on one of those spring-loaded retractable leashes, and she rushed ahead curiously. For a brief moment it occurred to me I should rein her in, but in just as brief a moment, I decided that the sparrow would fly away long before pup could do any damage.

The sparrow did fly away, first to the top of a picket fence edging the lawn—and I could tell from its erratic flight that it had been injured somewhere—and then, still startled by the dog, it fluttered wildly out across the street. With her injured wing and all, she could only attain an altitude roughly the equivalent a Toyota 4Runner's grill.

I know this because that’s what brought its panicked flight to a thudding stop. The vehicle was clipping along at about 40 clicks—not fast, mind you, but fast enough that the bird bumped up, arced over the hood and landed, lifeless, in the gutter.

The timing of the whole event was so precise as to seem inexorable.

I felt sad; I wished I’d reined in the dog; and this morning I’m thinking of Matthew 10:29.

Because according to our Lord’s teaching, what happened last night should have had the effect of emboldening me in my Christian life. Here’s how he says it: “Are not two sparrows sold for a penny? And yet not one of them will fall to the ground apart from the will of your Father. ... So don’t be afraid; you are worth more than many sparrows.”

But I’m thinking about that sparrow dropping to the asphalt last night—a victim not just of my own neglect but also of the rush and worry of the car-infatuated culture I inhabit—and to be honest, it’s left me with a lot more questions than answers.

Did God in fact will this bird dead? Was this sparrow’s death-by-4Runner somehow preordained, and if so, to what end? Does Jesus really want me to draw solace from such a seemingly arbitrary and pointless death? And, in my most cynical moments: is the divine handling of this sparrow’s life really supposed to inspire my confidence in the Sovereign’s loving plan for me?

These are the questions they wouldn’t let you ask in Sunday School.

And I don’t have any easy answers, but I do have this: “Not one of them falls to the ground apart from the will of your Father” is how the NIV renders Jesus’ word here; and it’s certainly how many would take it (I had someone cite this verse to me, for instance, as biblical evidence for Predestination). But in fact, this is actually more than what the verse literally says. Not much more, but more.

Literally all Jesus says is: “Not one of them falls to the earth apart from your Father (aneu tou patros ‘umōn).”

All Jesus says is that that sparrow didn’t die apart from God. The “will of God” bit is the NIV’s attempt to make sense of the verse (and for the record, almost every other reputable translation takes Jesus at his word without the metaphysical speculation, and translates the phrase simply, “apart from your Father”).

Which is how I’d translate it, too. Because personally, I don’t think that Jesus’s point is that God willed that sparrow’s death, but that he was involved in it. And not involved like a curious puppy, sniffing after its own purposes regardless the consequences to injured birds... nor like a neglectful pedestrian who, for reasons inscrutable, chose not to rein-in the hound of fate ... and certainly not like the reckless motorist in the careening 4Runner of our destiny.

He’s involved in precisely the way Jesus says he’s involved: as loving Father.

I thought I was sad to hear that dull thump.

If I can take Jesus at his word, God was intimately involved in that sparrow’s entire existence, watching over it lovingly, from shell to sky to earth to gutter. And in the moment it met the crushing force of that 4Runner’s grill—if I can take Jesus at its word—it was intimately present to God, more present, perhaps, than I was, watching it fall to the ground. And if I can take Psalm 84:3 at it’s word, then even this sparrow has a sacred space reserved for it near the altar of God.

As insignificant as it may have seemed to me, or to the car I accidently chased it into—Jesus says that this sparrow’s death was not in vain, and more, that it did not die alone; it was not abandoned or neglected by the loving Creator that made it in the moment of its passing.

And then for hope’s-sake, he assures me: nor will I be, at the moment of my death when my turn comes. And in that knowledge I do find a beautiful seed of confidence.

0 comments: