From the Well - 10/11/2018

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Ephesians 1:15-23 (NRSV) 
15 I have heard of your faith in the Lord Jesus and your love toward all the saints, and for this reason 16 I do not cease to give thanks for you as I remember you in my prayers. 17 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, 18 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, 19 and what is the immeasurable greatness of his power for us who believe, according to the working of his great power. 20 God put this power to work in Christ when he raised him from the dead and seated him at his right hand in the heavenly places, 21 far above all rule and authority and power and dominion, and above every name that is named, not only in this age but also in the age to come. 22 And he has put all things under his feet and has made him the head over all things for the church, 23 which is his body, the fullness of him who fills all in all.

Dr. Gordon Allport in his preface to Viktor Frankl’s most important work, Man’s Search for Meaning, writes of Frankl’s amazing survival and almost mystic transformation in spite of the horrors he endured as a young man in the German concentration camps of World War II.

Allport writes:

. . . there he found himself stripped to a literally naked existence. His father, mother, brother and his wife died in the camps or were sent to the gas ovens, so that except for his sister, his entire family perished in these camps. How could he--every possession lost, every value destroyed, suffering from hunger, cold and brutality, hourly expecting extermination--how could he find life worth preserving? A psychiatrist who personally has faced such extremity is a psychiatrist worth listening to. [1]

Frankl then answers Allport’s question by recounting his experience immediately following his liberation from the camps:

One day, a few days after the liberation, I walked through the country, past flowering meadow, for miles and miles, toward the market town near the camp. Larks rose to the sky and I could hear their joyous song. There was no one to be seen for miles around; there was nothing but the wide earth and sky and the lark's jubilation and the freedom of space. I stopped, looked around and up to the sky--and then I went down on my knees. At that moment there was very little I knew of myself or of the world--I had but one sentence in mind--always the same: "I called to the Lord from my narrow prison and he answered me in the freedom of space."

How long I knelt there and repeated this sentence, memory can no longer recall. But I know that on that day, in that hour, my new life started. Step for step I progressed until I again became a human being.[2]

Released from one of the most leprous of episodes in human history, Frankl could do nothing but kneel before his creator and express extreme gratitude. When Jesus touches us, we can do no less. Think about it as you pray this closing Psalm:

A PARAPHRASE OF

Psalm 66:1-9

On the far side of the mountains, a new world spreads before us.

Rocky ridges give way to rolling grasslands;

the shadows of our past give way to endless sunshine.

The far horizon shimmers in holy celebration.

In sacred silence we stand,

speechless before the rebirth of possibility.

You tested us terribly, God.

At times, we thought we would die, adrift, alone.

You scorched us on the deserts;

you froze us on the glaciers.

We could not help ourselves.

But you gave us shade against the sun,

and fire against the cold.

With your help, we survived every obstacle.

Through our trials you taught us

that you alone are almighty, and not we ourselves.

We owe our survival to God.

We had run out of our own resources.

but God kept us alive and struggling;

God kept us on our feet when no one else cared.[3]

Matthew

[1]Viktor Frankl, Man's Search for Meaning (New York, NY: Simon and Schuster, 1984), 7.

[2]Ibid, 96.

[3]Jim Taylor, Everyday Psalms (Wood Lake Books, 1994).