I read Donald Miller’s Blue like Jazz years ago. It struck a chord like it did for others my age. The book caught me at the right moment. I still remember a few lines of the book. Bits and pieces here and there. The line I remember most clearly comes from the opening page. It reads,
“I am early in my story, but I believe I will stretch out into eternity, and in heaven I will reflect upon these days when it seemed God was down a dirt road, walking toward me. Years ago He was a swinging speck in the distance; now He is close enough I can hear His singing. Soon I will see the lines on his face.”
It makes me smile as I think about the jagged pen mark drawn under the section. (I like to mark up books that I read, but I cannot seem to draw a straight line. Wise friends have encouraged me to use a book mark as a guideline, but who uses a bookmark? So a jagged line under the text of my book is a line of love. A sign of approval.)
I have always loved the image Miller paints here. Oh, it might not be the perfect theological picture. Salvation is more than a personal relationship with Jesus, and yet it is personal, and the image of Jesus coming towards him is beautiful. It leans toward the belief that Jesus is pursing us. Ours is a suffering with God; God dives right into the middle of our situation. This is the good news of the incarnation and the cross. For God so loved the world. . .
The book is a spiritual memoir of sorts. Don narrates his dealings with Jesus along the way. The highs and lows. The thing I loved about this book was the language it offered my situation. It helped me name my doubts and understand hope differently.
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Each Sunday we close communion with a congregational prayer. In the prayer we thank God for the mysterious food just received, and we end the prayer with the phrase “world without end.”
The phrase catches me each week. The beauty and expectancy of it all. Its hopeful note settles deep in my soul. The way a good song seeps past your mind’s eye towards your belly, full of warmth and richness.
This short phrase draws me into the good news of God. The good news that remains well beyond the misery where real people live. I think of the powerful lion lying down with the lamb. Even more I think of the child playing near the Cobra’s den. What a beautiful image in a society where Sandy Hook is a reality. Where danger lurks for too many children.
I think of our mighty weapons of war being turned into plowshares. The hope that speaks in the face of chemical weapons, terrorist attacks and preemptive strikes.
The promise of reconciliation and newness crosses all over the Bible. A world where unity replaces division. Where walls are replaced by long tables full of men and women, the rich and the poor, the lazy and the hardworking, the disabled and Crossfit champion, the hipster and the not-so-hipster and everyone in between.
And I think about Don’s image. The moment when I will see the lines on His face.
Each week we say “world without end.” Some weeks these words find me high and some weeks they find me in a low moment, but they find me and I am reminded of the depth of our hope. It is much more than a place for eternity. It is a world put back together by creator God and this is good news. World without end.