Avraham called the place ADONAI Yir’eh [ADONAI will see (to it), ADONAI provides]- as it is said to this day, “On the mountain ADONAI is seen.” Gen 22:14
When God sees something, when he looks at something, he is moved, and he sees to do his part. Abraham had caught God’s attention on the way to the mountain God pointed out to him. He had obeyed and even with faith proclaimed that God would provide a lamb as sacrifice. And God did. Not a lamb, but a full grown ram, as he always does more than we can imagine.
When Jesus saw the needs of the people, he was moved with compassion and healed them all, fed them all, set them all free.
There is a power in looking at things. Seeing something triggers thoughts, emotions, and eventually actions.
But what if this is even true on a deeper level?
Let me explain.
God works with us in our framework of understanding, stretching it from the starting point of the familiar to the vastness of the eternal, as far as we allow him to go, in the speed we can take and grasp.
So with me, God talks about books. Tons of books.
God showed me reality as a big library. I mean, a BIG library. Unlike in the bible, where John tells us that if everything were written down that Jesus did or said, that the whole earth could not contain the books, in this library, everything that ever happened is written.
Those books are written by the best writer ever, the Holy Spirit. And just as it sometimes is with a great book, the books spring to life when somebody starts reading. The reader is totally immersed into the story and becomes part of it – the story becomes his story. Interestingly enough, all books at all times were alive. Even if nobody was reading the story, the story lived within the framework of the book. The stories were so alive, that at any moment, every moment of the story was playing out. One could turn to a book and open it at any page, and plunge right into the action – as it was now.
Even more than that. As I was reading a story, I became co-author of it. The stories I had read before influenced the story I was reading now. I could take over most of the authorship, have the Holy Spirit be my ghost writer, or co-author the story’s future under the lead of God.
You maybe have noticed that I, as soon as I looked at my role as reader and co-author, started using words like before, now, and future.
My role in all this is twofold: I obviously am part of a number of books in this library, a character in some of the stories, but then I am also reader and co-author. As reader I live in another world as the characters of the book, even though they become one once I start reading. But as reader I am limited. My senses can only interact with the story within their limitations. This has some intricate features and characteristics. First, the amount of story line and facts I can take in at a given time is limited, and my conscious can work with even less. I miss a lot of what is told. And then, as I am subject to time, the story starts playing out in a timeline, one thing after the other manifests in the world I create reading.
This world exists on the intersect of the reader with the book. It exists and is created by the words of the story in my mind – and since it is so much alive – even in my whole life and experience. I become the protagonist of the story.
Since I am co-authoring the story I am reading, the world created within me is not only influenced by my words, my imagination, but also by the imagination and the creative words of God. Thus, many of the stories the Holy Spirit co-authored influence my story. Many of the scenarios written by other authoring teams intersect with my story and co-create my world. As God is the common thread in all those stories, a common world is created through those worlds, allowing for communication, shared experiences, and different world views.
When I studied information sciences, I wrote a paper about virtual realities. The topic: if virtual realities become so good that people immersed in them cannot distinguish them from the real world, would you die in the real world if you died in virtual reality? I came to the conclusion that yes, and that it would not only happen when virtual reality was a near perfect simulation of the real world, but as soon as you identified with it and accepted it as real.
Berthold Brecht would probably disagree and tell me that identification is futile and does not lead to lasting changes – his question was a little different: can somebody be taught through literature using identification with the hero of a story. And granted, your super hero feelings after a X-Men movie only last for so long, don’t they?
But then again, the stories in this library are so alive, they become our lives. We fully identify with the protagonist and view the world as reality.
I came to understand that I am not this person only. How that?
Yes, I am the protagonist of the story I am reading and co-authoring, and therefore shape the story. What I live through in this story determines partly what the story will go on to tell. What I focus on while I live the story does the same. Because my focus determines, which parts of the story I will miss, and which I will treasure.
Yes, I am the reader of the story. As a reader, I can lay books aside and fetch a new one. I can change my focus, my story drastically.
And finally, I am the co-author of my story. I can depend on the influence of God more, I can change the flow of the story, I can build the world around me, I can create.
This concept is hard to understand, because we have been immersed into our story for so long. And we have been taught that there is another reality waiting for us once we finished our story well – we call it heaven, and for me, it just might look like a big library.
But if I see myself as reader and co-author of my story, do I have to wait for death to enter? I know it is hard to lay aside a book before it is fully read. It is hard not to start another one right afterwards. I would love to spend my time here on earth just reading books. But I can look up and stroll around the library, engage in a conversation with my co-author, look into some other books, spend some time with the librarian or interact with some other readers, and even go outside for a walk.
Even here, whatever I focus on, plays out and influences and shapes my world. Time does not matter. Focus does.
Solomon tells us that everything has a season: mourning has a season, and joy does. Death has a season, and life does. But it is not the time that determines the season, it is our focus that does.
What do you think, what do you focus on?