Saturday, 13 June 2009

I Will Give you the Treasures of Darkness

Entrance to the oldest salt mine in the world, in Hallstatt, Austria.


Salt is still mined here today. 20% is used for consumption and medical purposes. The other 80% is used as salt for strewing on roads in winter.

We visited the mine earlier this week. It gave me a whole new perspective on Jesus' words, 'You are the salt of the earth'. The salt needs to be got out of the veins in the rock. It's a dark, difficult job where one has to remain underground for hours. In modern times the process requires exploding the rock with dynamite, but in the olden days men dug with antler horn, bronze and then iron tools by the light of torches.

In the same way, we have to seek the spiritual harvest of salt in the dark of the world. It takes hard work sometimes - perseverance, to love people into the Kingdom of Light; to bring them out into the Sonlight, where they can be savour to and heal their own society and protect others on their road of life. We need the light of Christ in us so that we can be among those in the darkness, otherwise we will be unable to see and to dig where the salt can be found; in the hardest places of all.

The salt is in the Rock, which is Christ. He knew us before the foundation of the world; we were already predestined to be in Him. From our side, it takes perseverance and longsuffering to form Christ in us. So much of our old nature rebels against the process of salt gathering. The stones which He is building into His Temple are always rough, with sharp and jagged edges. The salt crystals in the stones sparkle in the torchlight of the miners' lamps, but the rocks (chips off the old block) are often hard and sometimes seem to refuse to be changed. That's where the longsuffering of the Kingdom comes into being.

Loving, forgiving; suffering long, in circumstances which seem beyond us, with people who do not ever seem to change or even be aware of the blindspots in their lives, is hard, but it produces salt in us. We may not be aware of it, but Father is. And we live to Him; not to ourselves.

I am telling myself this; because I need to hear it again and again and again. Salt is always needed. Jesus said, 'Have salt in yourselves and be at peace with one another'. I need to keep coming to the Rock, where the salt can be found, so that I can be at peace in myself and with others.

It would seem to be easy to up and leave those that Father has put us together with. One could seek out new people to live with. But we all invariably find that as soon as we get to know new people well, their faults appear more clearly than their qualities.
This results in the endless search that many find themselves on, for the perfect church - perfect friends - little knowing that Jesus already sees the church as perfect. He has made her so. In His eyes, she is already spotless with His righteousness. If we saw each other with His eyes, instead of seeking to remove the splinters in theirs while a great plank sticks into our own, we will never be satisfied. If we embrace the Cross, the place where sin was dealt with once, for all, it will only serve to magnify His glorious perfection.

We hurt each other, annoy and irritate each other - but only when we don't walk in the light. If we walk in the light, as He is in the light, the faults of others no longer seem so obvious, or if they do, they become tools of grace to change our own lives. This is the work of the Cross. The light causes each stone to sparkle and shine and look beautiful in our eyes, and the faults of others seem to fade into insignificance, as do our own in the Light of Jesus. The Cross is the pair of hammers with which Father strikes the chips off us and causes us to shine.
Lord, please work Your longsuffering into me. Help me not to see other's faults, but to see You in them. Forgive them, because they don't see or know what they're doing and they need your grace as much as I do. I forgive them too. Thank you that You are allowing them to be tools in Your hands, to shape and change me into Your likeness. I praise You for choosing them and giving them to me. You knew exactly what I need. Bless them and bless them and bless them again. Keep me focussed on You; the Rock, from which I am cut; You are in the Light; You are the Light. In Your Light, we see Light.

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