A middle aged man climbs steadily up the mountain paths. The rocky inclines lead him through peaks and valleys as his journey winds on. His thoughts fly like lonely sparrows across his mind as he reflects on his life.
Perhaps Al Pacino’s right when he says in the film, Any Given Sunday, “When you get old in life things get taken from you…”
He sighs deeply, drawing emotion from a kind of inner weeping that seeps inexorably from his battered soul. The effort of the climb brings a brief sense of release until he reaches a large expanse of desolation haloed by majestic cliff faces.
He finds words to clothe his inner turmoil and shouts them sling like into the air.
Perhaps you too are on a journey? You might also be carrying the pain of loss. The world is full of losses…Lost sheep, sons, keys and coins; lost hope, health and happiness, lost purpose, lost innocence. What is your loss?
What would you shout out into the desolate wind if you were in the same valley as our friend?
The man’s words fly out into the wild, received into the womb of time as aged rocks, green with wisdom, bear silent witness to human brevity.
And then, from the other side of emptiness, comes a new sound. His sadness finds an answer as an eternal echo of truth replies to his pain.
“But whatever was to my profit I now consider loss for the sake of Christ.What is more, I consider everything a loss compared to the surpassing greatness of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord, for whose sake I have lost all things.”
Can you hear the same echo?
Whatever loss may gnaw away at your substance, know that there is something that surpasses pain. Whatever “hyper” loss you name, know that there is an even greater “hyperecho” – the Greek for “surpassing greatness”, which literally means to “hold above everything.”
Knowledge of the Holy, friendship with the generous heart, fellowship with the humble servant from heaven – a surpassing greatness.
He knows all about loss. He lost heaven as he bowed into flesh, lost status as he bent to wash feet and lost life as he embraced human tragedy on a cruel cross.
He went low, but at the same time overcame, and climbed to the heights of glory taking us with him to enjoy the rainbow after the rain. Wounds are transfigured into emblems of glory and pain is forgotten as life’s great resurrection mystery shines forth.
“Crown Him the Lord of love! Behold His hands and side—
Rich wounds, yet visible above, In beauty glorified.
No angel in the sky, Can fully bear that sight,
But downward bends His burning eye, At mysteries so bright.”
Allow the surpassing greatness of knowing Christ to beatify your own wounds in glory. Flaming eyed angels will bow the head in wonder as you find the grace to share the intimacy of your master’s life.
Our friend Paul never lost the wonder of such a glorious mystery. His life became one long quest for the knowledge of his beloved Jesus. He had so much – and yet considered it nothing.
“I consider them rubbish, that I may gain Christ and be found in him, not having a righteousness of my own that comes from the law, but that which is through faith in Christ–the righteousness that comes from God and is by faith.”
May your faith be quickened afresh today as you stand, safe and strong, in the life of Christ.
Let’s go back to our friend in the mountains. His face finds fresh light and youthfulness as he is overwhelmed by the “hyperecho” of heaven.
He looks towards the distant peaks with a renewed sense of purpose, his dreams and hopes empowered by presence. The inner weeping has given way to inner laughter and he throws out a new prayer into the awaiting wild wind.
“I want to know Christ and the power of his resurrection and the fellowship of sharing in his sufferings, becoming like him in his death,and so, somehow, to attain to the resurrection from the dead.”