Posted by: Dan | November 26, 2004

Overwhelmings

It is love who mixed the mortar, it is love who stacked these stones, it is love who made the stage here, though it looks like we're alone.
In this scene set in shadows, like the night is here to stay, there is evil cast around us, but it's love that wrote the play.

– David Wilcox, Show the Way

David Ford, a theologian with the heart of a poet, says that our lives are shaped by our interaction with the overwhelming. I tend to think of things that overwhelm us as negative things. Ford does well to speak of “overwhelmings”, a multiplicity of things that overwhelm us – things both positive and negative. Thus, I can be overwhelmed by horror but also by peace, by ugliness but also by beauty.

So which overwhelming becomes the most formative? Which of these shapes our lives most dramatically? Ford argues that the solution is found in living in the midst of overwhelmings in a way that lets one of them be the overwhelming that shapes the others.

Here we face a crucial decision about the way in which we choose to perceive the world. Whether we choose to see the world as a brute (and brutal) fact or as made by love for love determines whether a negative or positive overwhelming becomes the one which shapes the others. There is no absolutely convincing argument one way or the other and so all of us engage in an act of faith when we make this decision.

Ultimately, Ford asserts being overwhelmed by God is the overwhelming that should shape all the others.

I love Ford's words, his insights and his gentle strength. I resonate with this. It is because I have been overwhelmed by God that I can move amongst so many other overwhelmings and remain hopeful. It is because I have discovered the tenderness and passion of God that I can continually love and be tender to the people I journey with without hardening or breaking.

We are afflicted in every way, but not crushed; perplexed, but not despairing; persecuted, but not forsaken; struck down, but not destroyed; always carrying about in the body the dying of Jesus so that the life of Jesus may be manifested in our mortal flesh.
– Paul, 2 Corinthians 4.8ff

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Responses

  1. I am reading David Ford’s book right now and am also quite taken in his use of how overwhelmings can shape our lives. Much to ponder…


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