Tuesday, October 17, 2017

When hope promises, faith delivers

Photo by Jeremy Yap on Unsplash

HOPE is an experience the other side of suffering, that God often grants us amid our struggle, where, in trust, we believe.
Faith is the phenomenon of leaving behind the world of reality — pain, seemingly a destiny — in hope that a better reality is possible. Faith is action that believes in such an ideal.
Faith knows and accepts pain is part of the process. But it refuses to accept that pain is a destiny. It knows better. It believes in the redemptive plan of God. It believes beyond this world’s reality. Faith simply sees more. Much more. Indeed, ideally, faith rises above despair in a confidence that trusts, with God, all things are possible.
Here are some tangible considerations:
Imagine in our depression a time coming when we know it was an important experience to have. This is not discounting our pain. The symptoms and signs of depression could be ongoing. That doesn’t mean there’s no purpose to it. There is understanding growing within us that transforms our ignorance into compassion; our hardness of heart is being softened; we view others who are distressed with warmth, not judgment; our inclination is to include and not deny them.
God is using our depression to help us to know
how to love people better who sorely need His love.
Imagine in our anxiety, a hypervigilance that is building effectiveness and efficiency within us. See how our anxiety may form the basis for a diligence God is training us in. He will not waste the experience of our anxiety if we conform our anxious moments to faith. That is, if we believe that God can grow us despite our anxiety. If we believe God can even use our anxiety as His instrument for our growth, then, over the years, He transforms us through it.
Even as we pass through deepest trial, in over our head, God is with us, and never abandons us. Indeed, via faith, over the passage of time, God redeems every trial.
When hope abides in our heart, our mind is delivered in the faith action of trust.

No matter the pain in our lives, God can use it to bring us closer to Himself, and to make us more like Himself.

Saturday, October 14, 2017

My 8 purposes for life

Photo by Jeremy Bishop on Unsplash

TRYING to make ends meet, you’re a slave to money, then you die… the immortal words of the Bittersweet Symphony. Life must have more significance than that! And it does.
In a salient moment’s reflection, God gave me this. I exist for these reasons:
1.      To stay alive. I feel God has given me the mission to work hard for Him for a definitive length of time. By His will and for His work, I will finish that mandate well. Then, He bids me retirement. Ultimately, we have a firm idea how long we wish for me to live; an age to attain. We all have a responsibility to stay alive; to promote health. (Psalm 23:6; 91:16.)
2.      To live straight. Integrity is the most important thing as far as the ‘how’ of life is concerned. And to follow God’s ancient path is the way, including the confession and repentance of sin. (Proverbs 3:5-6.)
3.      To love family. God has put a range of persons into my life as family. To love them to my fullest capacity is both my joy and responsibility.
4.      To preach well. Not only by the words I’m blessed to deliver both publicly and privately, He wills me to preach well by the way I live. I must plan and prepare and deliver His messages with all due diligence, and respect feedback as the stewardship of others as their love seeks to sharpen my own.
5.      To care compassionately. The gift of life experience has been a gift where spiritual gifts have become useful skills. Compassion is as important as integrity is. (Matthew 9:36.)
6.      To bless others. This is the uncommon love of Jesus done in common life. Everywhere, always, in the everyday, in all situations, to bless others is the summum bonum — the supreme good. (Romans 12:9-21; 1 Corinthians 13:13.)
7.      To enjoy life. I’ve been blessed to breathe and walk this life out; to enjoy it is to make the most of the seconds and hours and weeks. Because some parts of life require us to go backwards, walking forwards should hence be a duty of delight.
8.      To glorify God. Yes, ultimately, nothing else matters. And all the previous seven culminate in this! (Mark 12:30; James 3:17-18.)

Wednesday, October 11, 2017

The salubrious art of Turning difficulties into Training

GROWTH is the serious endeavour of ardent Christians. They know it’s life’s purpose.
Without growth we rescind. Fortunately, God has a great plan for our growth!
And difficulty is His key instrument. God uses difficulty to train us. Oh, how I wish I could always see it this objectively!
Difficulties have had their role in my life, and will continue to. In some situations, difficulties verified my character as relatively true. God gifts us all mastery over some difficulties, sometimes to test our pride, and where we’re found wanting, highlighted are the need for deeper difficulties yet to be revealed and experienced. In other situations, my difficulties proved exasperating, even overwhelming. Some broke me. A few have done that day-in-day-out, over months or years. Sure, losses fit firmly into this category, but also a plethora of other everyday annoyances that piqued my pride and caused me to see, through my fears and frustrations, where I still have room to grow.
Ill-handled difficulties made me aware of cavernous gaps in my maturity.
These are the difficulties God foresaw for my growth, and He sees them worthy to fit to me. I have observed the hard way, many times, there’s no use resenting a difficulty’s existence. Indeed, the opposite perception is blessed; difficulties when embraced.
When difficulties become less difficult there’s the evidence of learning, growth and maturation.
The way we take difficulties, and the way we respond to them, is where God’s Spirit speaks most poignantly. We only need to hold the truth by faith, that He is for us, never against us, to see this.
Difficulties are not a curse; they’re actually the avenue to eventual blessing.
Difficulties have a purpose of training us in patience, a fruit of humility, a blessing of resilience.
Patience is behavioural, observable, within us as we reflect, as much as it’s noticeable to others. Patience is a virtue of Jesus. Cyprian of Carthage (200 – 258 ce) pled that “in Christ a full and perfect patience may be consummated”[1] in each of us.
One sign we’re overcoming a particular difficulty — a symbol of real growth — is when we can laugh within the truth of such a trial. God gives us this capacity. It’s no proud laugh. It’s a laugh that accepts we don’t like it one bit; yet, we laugh because we can. It can even be, and often is, a laugh within a cry, as we wrestle with the reality amid His goodness. It’s possible as we face the stark reality, even when life has appeared to turn its back on us.
So, as James says, consider it pure joy when you face trials of many kinds…[2]
God is disciplining us — His sons and daughters — through training.[3] Because He loves us.

[2] James 1:2-4.
[3] Hebrews 12:7-11.

Sunday, October 8, 2017

Humanity cursed itself and God | God forgave and blessed humanity

Photo by Ben White on Unsplash

HAVING washed his hands of the blood of Jesus, the next thing Pilate hears are the chilling words of an angry mob, some of whom had previously followed Jesus:
And all the people answered, “His blood be on us and on our children!”
— Matthew 27:25 (ESV)
Don’t miss the important details in this verse, above: all the people… His blood… be on us… AND… on our children. Astounding.
All the people. That’s a representation of many diverse kinds of people, not simply the Pharisees and scribes. Some of the crowd would have been silent or silenced. But the overwhelming voice of the crowd was cursing God to death, and their tenor was a curse to their very selves — much like what occurred at the Fall. All the people! All the people had no idea that Jesus really was who He and so many others claimed Him to be. They had lost their ability to be impartial.
They had forgotten the miraculous works of Jesus. They had failed to understand the true Kingdom relevance of Jesus’ teaching. They had forsaken their Old Testament Jewish writings that testified to Jesus being the Messiah. And they had fiddled with justice! But it was God’s plan from before the beginning to thwart Satan.
His blood. That crowd had no idea (as we, too, would not have) of the power of the statement ‘His blood… be on us… on our children.’ A statement that curses Jesus, blesses the curser with blessing the curser does not deserve.
Such a curse pronounces a blessing, for the sacrifice God has made meshes well the wish that is inherently evil with a love so true it loves those who reject it with the perfection of grace. It is the pronouncement of blessing even upon one’s children.
“Forgive them (us), Father, for they (we)
do not know what they (we) are doing.”
Luke 23:34
The guilt of the angry mob is no less on us than it is on them. Yet, Jesus forgave, pleading their (and our) case before the Father.
No more than twenty-five verses down Matthew 27 and we read that Jesus breathed His last (v. 50). That curse that was ushered forth during that same day was annulled the moment Jesus died.
The possibility for all humanity to come alive through belief in His name became reality when He died.
Only God could thwart an enemy who would foresee salvation any other way than via God’s own sacrifice.
God foresees rejection and rejects its curse with His blessing. Only love would do that. Only love could do that.

Thursday, October 5, 2017

And Jesus said, Always pray and Never give up

Photo by Kristopher Roller on Unsplash

GOSPEL accounts remind us how confronting Jesus actually was, especially the parables. The purpose of the parable of the widow and the unjust judge (Luke 18:1-8) is exhortation. The Lord casts a polarizing tale before the disciples to magnify the role of persistence in prayer.
Consider this single verse precis:
“Then Jesus told them a parable about their need to pray always and not to lose heart.”
— Luke 18:1 (NRSV)
In other words,
Every day
no matter how empty your cup
always pray,
and never give up!
From verse 2, our Lord speaks a story where the personification of powerlessness — a widow, with no rights — has influence over an iconoclast of privilege and power — a debased judge who fears nothing and nobody, least of all God. The widow has suffered a cruel injustice, and goes, again and again, persistently, to the wicked judge to plead her case. Desperate to be heard she cannot rest. Time and again, he has no compassion. Indeed, he would be bribed, but the only currency the widow has is her courage to persist.
Listen for the stark contrasts. As mentioned above, the judge holds the ultimate power, a seat at government, and the widow is as powerless as any in that society. He is the image of vice, all she has is virtue. He holds the most trustworthy position of society but continually perverts the course of justice. She is the quintessence of beneficence — embodying all that is good and right about life. And, finally, the judge fears for absolutely nothing, until now. Jesus says for the first time in his life the judge experiences fear: that the widow might wear him out with her endless requests.
The message behind the parable is also a massive contrast. Something to always do coupled with something never to do — always pray, never give up!
Imagine if we were to think of the unjust judge as those forces in life that prevail against us: our at-times frail mental health, discouraging circumstances in life, the prince of this world, and the world itself. Imagine simply having the pluck to joyfully persist in the face of any discouragement. Imagine disregarding the weight of the burden against us. Imagine not being hemmed-in by the power imbalances against us. Imagine wearying the world’s processes such that persons in authority — good or evil — would take notice. Imagine embodying hope.
This is the spirit of how Jesus wants us to pray.
Not just that, but our Lord commends us to the faithfulness of God — the All-Righteous, Ultimate, Eternal Judge who judges what no human judge can. Prayer trusts the ultimate justice giver. Prayer is the vehicle of our influence. The Judge promises to listen to us. And we pray not as a people who are powerless; we, His chosen ones! Jesus Himself tells us, His disciples, that God will grant justice quickly.
This is the sort of fruit of faith He is hoping to find when He returns (Luke 18:8).
If God is abundantly good, will He not make a way for us through what we’re presently undergoing? If a wicked judge who has no scruples will cede to the request of someone who he has totally no regard for, how much more will God cede to us who He loves regarding what we need? How much more influence do we have with a compassionate, listening Lord God than does a widow over a callous judge? How much more will God bend toward us, His chosen ones? And how much more faith ought we to have that our petitions would be heard and answered swiftly?
David and Goliath struggles there will ever be in life. Always pray and never give up!
Bible Gateway’s New Living Translation account of Luke 18:1-8
Parable of the Persistent Widow
18 One day Jesus told his disciples a story to show that they should always pray and never give up. “There was a judge in a certain city,” he said, “who neither feared God nor cared about people. A widow of that city came to him repeatedly, saying, ‘Give me justice in this dispute with my enemy.’ The judge ignored her for a while, but finally he said to himself, ‘I don’t fear God or care about people, but this woman is driving me crazy. I’m going to see that she gets justice, because she is wearing me out with her constant requests!’”

Then the Lord said, “Learn a lesson from this unjust judge. Even he rendered a just decision in the end. So don’t you think God will surely give justice to his chosen people who cry out to him day and night? Will he keep putting them off? I tell you, he will grant justice to them quickly! But when the Son of Man returns, how many will he find on the earth who have faith?”

Tuesday, October 3, 2017

Our Focus as we Ascend

Photo by Jake Hills on Unsplash

ASCENDANCE is a Christian activity.
Not in correspondence with prosperity doctrine, but in congruence with resurrection reality. We were saved to follow Jesus, to die to self and be raised in Him.
In practical terms, this means a direct correlation between losing what we cannot keep to gain what we cannot lose. We seek the Kingdom and His righteousness (Matthew 6:33) and God gives us the desires of our hearts (Psalm 37:4). Because those two things are uncompromisingly aligned, the latter linked with the former.
Seek what God wants and
God will give you what you seek.
See how these are one and the same thing?
We are a resurrection people. We are into building, not destroying. We are people who may stumble but don’t ultimately fall. And even if we do fall, we do rise again, by virtue of the fact we don’t give up.
Here’s what I mean:
Where’s our focus? It’s not on the people who do or don’t like us. It’s on those people who seem to ‘get’ our purpose. It’s on being kind to all no matter how they treat us, and we save a special form of respect for those who mistreat us. This is a Jesus teaching. How good it is to do kindness to those who cannot be anything but our reproach! We know our kindnesses are not motivated for our own gain, but for God’s glory. This is why we’re unconquerable when we choose joy in untenable circumstances, and hope when despair hits the ground running. How? Because we can. And we’re not perfect, we get that. Love for enemies is what we strive for. Because it’s powerful and dignifying to treat someone with respect when they’re disrespectful to us. See?
It’s on those situations that build people up, and it’s not on those circumstances that tear them down… why on earth would we make the cancer spread? It makes no sense!
The Holy Spirit comes in power
when we seek what God wants,
and that power gives others power.
Social media in this age is responsible for suggesting something insidious in our psyches. We seem to be in constant comparison mode, and there is a significant portion of our population who are stressed through the fear of missing out. Or, the other nemesis is getting set on ‘having’ our opinion, as if it glorifies God to fight for our right, which it almost never does. There’s no use in obtaining the whole world through influence if we lose our soul in cutting down our neighbour.
Before we know it, as Christians, we get sucked back into the ways of the world, forgetting we’ve been saved from these tyrannies. But we must work out of the grace we’ve been given. And that grace is surrender; the forfeit of ego.
It’s too easy in this life to focus on the things that destroy others and therefore ourselves, what with bitterness and self-esteem issues at the forefront. What stands before us as Christians is a simple choice. Which way will we go? To build up or to tear down. To appreciate or to deprecate.

Every choice is either one or the other.

Thursday, September 28, 2017

Traveling true through hell to the New You

A sample of the worst days of my life
that helped make my life what it is today.
REMINISCING over 14-year-old journal entries proves a thing true: a hell-of-months traversed through consistently, blesses, for such memories never fade.
Vanquished was joy, bereft was peace, forlorn was hope, the grief so lamentably memorable, that those journal entries, read a third-of-a-lifetime further on, reveal:
©     Not one day in that season of comprehensive loss was devoid of both hope and hopelessness; hope a day would come where joy, peace and hope would return; yet, hopelessness was the incontrovertible sense that that day was a long way away. Both these feelings never left me. Together they tormented me. But they held me together.
©     I see now the eternal provision then that’s now become eternal possession. The coalescence of hope and hopelessness was a God-intended corner that grief backed me into, and it proved safe and effective, no matter how excruciating the experience was. It locked me in and it assured me of my ultimate restoration.
©     The promise and reality of God’s Presence is something that makes such a season endurable. But that’s not all. What continues to unfold is incredible. Restoration of life, post-grief, means that God’s Presence is but the embodiment of the eternal possession. And what more with it?
©     Thankfulness for God’s faithfulness swells when He commends us for our obedience. Done once, we’re compelled to do it again and again and again, for the power of the Kingdom is ours, something we would never deny again. A new me emerged. I am the same person but completely different.
Grief is a manifestation of hell in this life. Never go through such a journey without clinging to God. Indeed, only in this worldly life is it possible to endure hell with God’s company as comfort. Travel through it true. No matter how senseless it might seem.
Thank God for the hope in you that you cannot explain, despite the wretched pain, but is there and real and true. God has taught us something supremely and eternally valuable.
God adds hope for the journey that seems hopeless. He gives peace we never understand. And somehow, we make it through hell knowing we must keep on going.
God proves Himself real through a hope we can’t deny, and we learn to endure numbness and anguish. And that becomes our possession of faith.

Thursday, September 21, 2017

Loving Everybody in the Same-Sex Marriage Debate

Photo source: Unknown.

I WAS going to call this article, Why Everyone is a Loser on the Topic of Same-Sex Marriage, but it is too divisive.
This article is probably not what you think it is. I’m not ‘hating on’ anyone. I hope that’s what comes across. Or, perhaps I’m hating on everyone? Of course, by having a view — however neutral I think it is — I may inevitably be polarised into both camps. But here goes…
I think everyone’s a loser on the topic of same-sex marriage in Australia presently, because whatever side you’re on — and there are four I can see — you probably find yourself frustrated.
The question:
Should the law be changed to allow same-sex couples to marry?
If you vote ‘yes’ you may not understand how others cannot see this as a moral / human rights / fairness / justice issue. You may only see bigotry and homophobia in the ‘no’ camp. If you vote ‘no’ you may not understand how others cannot see the threats posed beyond a continuation of, and consequences within, rewriting the law. If you’re neutral, you may not understand how others cannot see the importance of people respecting each other’s views. A fourth group constitutes those who have flexible views and may be undecided. You may not understand how others cannot see the complexity of the debate, and your right to be undecided, and you are probably silent.
Actually, silence is an important response to explore. You may be silent because your views don’t sit well with some you love and / or respect. Your silence might be because you don’t want to be shouted down. There are many reasons why people are silent, the worst of all, perhaps, that the circumstances of hateful behaviour on both sides of the divide have silenced you. You don’t want to upset people and therefore yourself. You desire peace over principle.
Over the years I have tried to look at all dimensions of this incredibly dynamic and complex debate and it confounds me as to how all-consuming it has become. Everyone seems stressed about it. (Although I’m sure there are some / many who aren’t.)
I wonder if I can introduce the following quote as emblematic of the concept of love as it meets conflict:
“When you give and expect a return, that’s an investment.
When you give and don’t expect anything back, that’s love.”
— Unknown
When people on all sides of the debate engage in ways that expect others to be convinced of their views, it’s not love. But when people can engage with the freedom for having their view — feeling safe within a community of two or more to hold those views as sacred — without judgment or recrimination either way — love is encountered.
Whenever we expect others to think as we do, we fall short of love, no matter how ‘right’ we are. But when we appreciate a person amid the right they have for their view, we meet love.
The SSM debate is so divisive because sexuality is fathomless in its complexity.
Firstly, everybody’s sexuality is complex. Maybe nothing proves our innate brokenness than our vulnerability regarding our sexuality.
Secondly, our human biases see our sexuality as either superior or inferior to others’ — sexuality in a broken world is inherently shaming unless it is valued and treated as redemptive. Yet, as sexual beings, none of us is inherently better or worse than anyone else.
Thirdly, our brokenness either deforms our views or it compels us to redeem our views. The redemption of views results when all persons are seen as bearers of God’s image — all as equally precious in God’s view — all as deserving of their sexual dignity.
And there is a plethora of other views that could be considered, but for brevity here, won’t be.
Perhaps the key response we can make is to have empathy for how the SSM debate is affecting individual persons — whatever their views are — whatever their stake is or appears to be or feels like, for them, not us.
If we can appreciate another person’s truth — what is real for them — we begin then to meet love, because we’re meeting them. From such a place, trust emerges and truth can begin to coexist with love in the realm of conflict. The endpoint, the perfection of understanding, is truth as love — both seamless within each other.
Every view expressed respectfully has value, but it’s people on the opposite side of their view who determine whether it’s respectful or not. If it is respectful, and it appeals to a context of truth, i.e. it has logic about it, whatever the content of the view, it is loving.
I feel for the gay man, the lesbian, the bisexual person, the transgender person, and others of sexually diverse groups. You deserve to be loved and respected as much as anyone else, and perhaps in your vulnerability more so. You deserve more than my or others’ ignorance.
I feel for the conservative, for their fears whether well-founded or not. Your true views that you may be scared to voice ought to have their place.
I feel for those who represent other important societal issues, drowned out because of the heat within the present debate.
I feel for anyone who genuinely feels indifferent or frustrated or something else.
I feel for the peacemakers and peacekeepers on all sides of the debate, who hate the stress it places people under.
It’s good to conclude on the concept of love.
Many bandy-about the words of Jesus as if they have the market cornered on love.
Well, love was never meant to be a thing, a philosophy, a statute of right-and-wrong. Love in this context is a verb, it is observable; a behaviour. The use of Bible verses by all sides of the debate to convince, compel or conquer is not love; it’s a doctrinal activity aimed at edifying others, and it can clearly be done ignorantly or arrogantly, which, pushed to its extreme, constitutes spiritual abuse.
Love is only given as it is received. Love is not love if it isn’t received as loving.
Love is always more about the other person than it is about the giver of, or how they, love.
We cannot say we are being loving if it isn’t perceived as loving.
Jesus is clear: in all things, love. Especially in conflict. Especially when solutions are beyond our comprehension. Especially when there is space for a divergence of views. And there always is.
Only then is everyone a winner. That’s when love finally is love.
Love seems so far beyond us in the vast divergence of views and presented maturities.

Monday, September 18, 2017

New perspectives on Time

HEXHAM ABBEY, I recently learned, was built in 678 A.D., which is an astonishing thought — that an original church building is over 1,300 years old. There are church buildings elsewhere in the world that were built as early as the Third Century.
Think of all the persons in all the centuries, all the generations, and all the decades who have come and gone; how many moments. There are 31.5 billion seconds in one thousand years. There are forty generations over the same time period. And even though that sounds inordinately long, and that we only ever witness four or five generations in any one life, all those seconds tick dutifully by, one after the other, with inevitability. Sometime soon, it will be one hundred years from now, and almost all of us who breathe air now will have expired.
If I look back over the time experiences I’ve had in recent days, I see challenges that were overcome, accomplishments made that seemed to breed stress at the time, but now simply weave a story. Three days ago, an early start, anxiety for what I needed to do in a short time period, many people dependent on my role, and yet now I look back at it as simply an interesting event, a blip in my account of lived experience. What if heaven provides a perfect account of every reconciled memory — like a movie library of the ratified days of our lives?
If one of the purposes of our lives is to reconcile time, we have the motive to go back through our days and make an honest account of them. To investigate our attribution of these days’ experiences and make of them an outcome of acceptance.
Time waits for no person, we know this by the fact of a death that seems as an ever-present possible reality — the longer we’re alive, the more that reality bears down in truth. So, we have the rest of our lives — seconds or hours or months or decades — to decide the things we must decide and to do the things we would like to do. But we do this without ever knowing how long life will last. It’s good to bear this truth in the front of our minds.
What can we do with our time now that we cannot do when we’re gone?
How can we further challenge our understanding of time in the realm of experience?
Why are we so willing to deny our finiteness in this world? What fears do we have that are simply interesting?
When is it possible to come to new understandings of time around revelation?
Who told us we had to live from the paradigm set that we have today?
Where is the challenge ahead to debunk futile philosophies of time that do not serve us?

Friday, September 8, 2017

Light Shines Brightest at Night

THERE are foundational salvation truths we learn only in our darkest days. We never expect to be blessed at a time that seems so irretrievably cursed.
But we are.
If we can let go of the threads that bind us to what was.[1]
The most significant word: if.
Of course, it’s easiest to let go when those things we could never let go of are ripped out of our grasp. Such situations are the hardest realities. So what we find in the hardest of authenticities is the easiest of choices, for choice is a luxury we’re not afforded in cataclysmic loss.
And still we must make the choice to suffer as much as possible without resistance.
That must be the key to entering the revelatory world: where light shines brightest at night.
And what a revelation that is! To suddenly discover the existence of upside down realities we always suspected were true, yet had never experienced. And now they’re real. This is where the déjà vu Spirit communicates things we always knew but didn’t know until we did. Then we recognised we had already had a sense of knowing them.
This is the rare life that Christ came to reveal to us, epitomised on the cross. So few Christians, however, have experienced such revelation that precedes Kingdom transformation.
This is because there are two steps: the first step, loss; the second, humiliation. Loss polarises many into wastelands of bitterness and resentment. There is a refusal to be humiliated as Christ was. Whether we deserve humiliation or not is not the point; Christ didn’t. Our flesh must be crucified, regularly and often. None of this is easy to write or read. But unless we’re crucified, regularly and often, we cannot grow into wisdom through revelation.
Humiliation teaches us humility.
Then it is in that night humiliation where the light that shines through is brightest. Because there is now nothing that can come against us that hasn’t already set itself against us. There is no longer anything more to fear. If we survived the worst that life can throw at us, nothing can hold us back in our hope for a restoration some time off.
See how if Christ is for us, nothing is against us?
We could never learn such experiential truths until we 1) suffered loss, and 2) suffered well the humiliation of our pride.
We know we must lose our life to find it.
At darkest point,
at dimmest hour,
let God anoint,
you by His Kingdom power.
Allow the darkness to brighten the light, and God will enlighten your sight.

[1] Even as we let go of that which we never could otherwise, God never truly takes it away. We find later that, spiritually speaking, what was once ours, is always ours.