Wednesday, July 6, 2011

Seeing from the Backside

Things are not always what they seem.

Dr. Ellsworth Kalas wrote a series of books taking a fresh look at ancient stories. He suggested we approach the familiar in an unfamiliar fashion, and referred to this as viewing from the backside. I like what that method does for us. Catches us off-guard. Makes us think or re-think possibilities.

The chapel pictured above is beautiful in its setting. Highly regarded designer uses natural materials to construct a family chapel. That is a story in itself. I loved the intimacy of it before I stepped foot through the doors. But it was upon seeing it from the back side that I discovered its real beauty.

The chapel's domed ceiling rose upward, and the windows were entirely open-air. Walls did not define the space, but provided frames for nature as far as the eye could see! The altar would not be contained within four walls. It was altogether lovely and refreshing as a design for worship, weddings and funerals. The expansive view allowed all of nature to join 'in manifold witness', as the old hymn says.

A gleaming cross stands watch as a focal point on the backless chapel of wood, stone, brick, iron and whitewashed stucco. When viewed from the back side, this chapel is turned inside out. Fresh air flows through the wooden benches and recirculates unhindered.

Do we ever feel more comfortable with "four walls and a ceiling" -- a predictable, reliable framework for living that does not call us to stretch the imagination and perhaps grow in a direction God may be leading us? Sometimes it is scary to venture beyond the familiar routine and commit to a new way of serving or living out the faith.

Maybe it is fear of what lies beyond the 'walls' that keeps us tethered to a pew-under-roof. Some would rather have the safety of a predictable, sheltered seat rather that risk the gusty wind of the hills and fields that beckon beyond.

I just talked with a friend whose mission field is her own hometown, but she ventured far from the walls of her neighborhood or church and out into a culturally distant land. She is living boldly and with great love. She is impassioned and courageous.

Her example makes me wonder, am I continuing to view things from the back side?

O, Lord, I pray that I do not try to confine You to a box of my own making. Help me to grasp how wide and how long and how high and how deep is the love of Christ, because I cannot fathom such love on my own. May this great love ignite a spark of showing bold love to others. Amen

Ephesians 3:18


  1. Such fuel for our journey.I give thanks. God is so big. His love so vast. Thank you for the reminder we can never box him in.