Thursday, February 25, 2016

Dark Matter

Let whoever is wise pay attention to these things…
               — Psalm 107:43

A few days ago while out for a little trail run I listened to the OnBeing podcast of Krista Tippett interviewing cosmologist Dr. Lisa Randall. Randall is the Frank B. Baird, Jr. Professor of Science at Harvard University. She has a gift for explaining very complex scientific principles and theories so that ordinary people like me can grasp these incomprehensible concepts. 

It was interesting to hear Randall talk about her theory of dark matter and its interplay with ordinary matter. Dark matter is a hypothetical substance that is believed by most astronomers to account for around five-sixths of the matter in the universe. Although it has not been directly observed, its existence and properties are inferred from its various gravitational effects. She believes dark matter is all around us, even moving through us at all times. Yet because our senses can’t detect dark matter we are completely unaware of it. Dark matter doesn’t emit or interact with light so we don’t see it. Neither can we smell, taste, or feel it. Yet most scientist believe it is just as real and ever present as we are, as real as all these physical realities I’m sensing as I run. The cool breeze on my face, the winter-bare trees, the soft dirt beneath my feet, butterflies, water, clouds, the hawks flying overhead.

Dark matter makes up a significant part of our world and our universe but the majority of us humans are oblivious to it. Randall and other physicists, astronomers, and cosmologists have opened their minds to the reality of dark matter. Through their openness to the unseen they are discovering what has been here all along.

As a Christ-follower I couldn’t help but see the analogy of dark matter to the Holy Spirit. We can’t prove the existence of the Holy Spirit but for those of us who believe, his presence is all around us, even moving through us and within us. Like dark matter, the vast majority of humanity is oblivious to the Holy Spirit’s presence and power in our world but for those of us who have opened our minds he is the reality of all things seen and unseen.

Thursday, February 11, 2016

PrayerReach Himalayas

The house is cold, dark, and quiet as I awaken. The fire in the rusty metal woodstove died down hours ago along with the evening’s after dinner chatter. Reaching from under the down comforter I pull back the heavy window curtain to reveal a bright crescent moon and an infinite field of stars. The Spirit is calling me to come away, alone into the night, just as he did my Lord so many times.
Donning the wool beanie my daughter knit for me and a puffy jacket for warmth I slip downstairs into the night. In the yard a billion points of light pierce the veil of darkness over this Himalayan Buddhist kingdom as the nearby water-powered prayerwheel, persistent but futile, chimes with each revolution.

Holding the clapper in the bell hanging over the gate so I don’t awaken the dogs I slip out into the village. Moving by moonlight clockwise around the chorten and down the rough worn steps onto the cobblestone path. Faint images of prayer flags fluttering in the cold mountain winds everywhere I turn. Whitewater sounds call me down the trail and out onto the ancient, heavy timber footbridge. Thunderous snowmelt from the mountain above drowns out the incessant voices in my head leaving the peaceful solitude for which I thirst.

I ponder the symbolism of the bridge as a portal from one world to the next, a threshold from one reality to another. Pausing in the middle as if halfway between worlds I lift my eyes in prayer to the Creator of heaven and earth, praising God for each star, for each person sleeping in the darkened homes around me, for the opportunity to be a small light here in their dark world, for God’s call on my life to be a bridge between this pervasive darkness and the light of God’s love for each of us. Quietly, thankfully, prayerfully I lay the elements out on the bridge railing altar and celebrate the Lord’s Supper in the midst of this engulfing darkness.

I may well be the first person to worship the true and living God in this remote valley, the first to celebrate communion in this place. Psalms 69:30-31 tells us that God desires our praise and thanksgiving more than our offerings. Jesus taught Martha and Mary that God longs for our presence to him much more than our works for him.  The unum necessarium, the one thing necessary is for us to sit at Jesus’ feet listening to what he says.  

It’s incomprehensible how our XMA PrayerReach team being here can possibly make a difference. How our prayers and our praise bring light into darkness. But I rest in personal, experiential knowledge that God works in mysterious, ineffable ways. He made his mystery known to me through the prayers of others. I trust that he has called us here to pray his peace into these people and that somehow he will open their hearts and minds to receive his Word which we have shared.

Go to to learn more about XMA’s PrayerReach ministry and how you can be a part of what God is doing through our prayer and literature distribution teams. You can also request a free copy of Monty’s book PrayerReach — ‘Withnessing’ Among the Unreached.