Jan Johnson

Wisbit - June 2016

Unseen Realities I Need to Remember

Last weekend I went with my family to a “Star Party” at Moorpark College Observatory. There we viewed slides showcasing the beauty of the universe and followed the professor's laser pointer to find constellations and not just one but three planets. Huddled together in the chilled darkness, we had a glimpse of a reality that we do not ordinarily see. Afterward, we got to look through telescopes to view Saturn with its rings, Mars in its glowing redness, and Jupiter with four of its moons. I was overwhelmed, as was the normally Facebook-focused, action-movie-drenched younger generation with me. We felt as if we were in on a big secret that others did not know about!

201606wisbitpicAt 6 AM the next morning in full daylight, I sat on my back porch and grinned to know that everything I had seen the night before was STILL THERE. Different stars were there, Jupiter having moved on in its journey to visit us the next night. I didn’t mind; the sun’s radiance powers household appliances, keeps me from tripping over myself when I hike, and nurtures the magenta bougainvillea in front of my house. I could still imagine the always-existing heavenly realities because I experienced them with my eyes; I knew they were really there!

Two days later I left to assist in the Fuller Seminary GM720 class, a rhythm in my life since 2002. Now that Dallas Willard has transitioned to the next phase of eternity, the class is taught by Keith Matthews and Todd Hunter who help pastors implement life in the Kingdom of God and who teach others to do so. Before I’d left that morning I’d been thinking (too much) about a situation that felt hopeless to me. I sat stunned as Todd’s words about the Trinitarian universe washed over me. I’d somehow forgotten that Father, Son and Holy Spirit invite me into their community of love and power. I closed my eyes and savored the night adventure at the observatory along with favorite phrases from The Divine Conspiracy:

  • The world shouts about the Trinity:  “. . . a Trinitarian universe— a universe grounded in a society of divine persons . . . The material universe is an essential display of the greatness and goodness of God . . .” (pp. 377-378).
  • Our conversation with the Trinity: “we live in a Trinitarian universe, one where infinite energy of a personal nature is the ultimate reality. When we pray we enter the real world, the substance of the kingdom, and our bodies and souls begin to function for the first time as they were created to function” (p. 254).
  • How God’s goodness is passed on: “the presence of a good person touches, influences, and may even govern people nearby through the respect inspired in their hearts, [in] the focused presence of the Trinitarian personality upon [others] through its transformed people” (p. 381).
  • How we grow: “We should find ourselves constantly growing in our readiness and ability to draw our direction, strength, and overall tone of life from the everlasting kingdom, from our personal interactions with the Trinitarian personality who is God. This will mean, most importantly, the transformation of our heart and character” (p. 396).

This last one reminded me of another DC quote: “Jesus’ picture of the kingdom heart. . .That heart would live with full tenderness toward everyone it deals with” (p. 137). That renewed my intention to treat others (even and especially those who frustrate me) with respect and tenderness in order to “make it as clear as you can to all you meet that you are on their side, working with them, not against them” (Phil 4:5, Msg).

    Grace and peace,
    Jan Johnson



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