“’The youth gets together his materials to build a bridge to the moon,’ Thoreau noted mournfully, ‘or perchance a palace or temple on the earth, and at length the middle-aged man concludes to build a wood-shed with them.’ The writer returns to these materials, these passionate subjects, as to unfinished business for they are his life’s work.” Annie Dillard, The Writing Life
Annie Dillard quotes Thoreau to tell of the writer’s diligence to return to the “passionate subjects” that make up her life’s work. These words make me think of the Apostle Paul. How many different ways can Paul say it – his life’s work, his passion, his subject matter are summed up by one story, the gospel: “To live is Christ…” …”For I am not ashamed of the gospel…” or, as Eugene Peterson puts it in The Message, “I, Paul, am a devoted slave of Jesus Christ on assignment, authorized as an apostle to proclaim God’s words and acts.” (Romans 1:1)
What about us? As new creations, redeemed and transformed by the love of Christ, we too are ‘on assignment,’ servants of the King, and called to proclaim the good news that God has changed us and can change anyone or anything. Since God’s mercies are new every morning, we should be like the youth, gathering the materials of the gospel, faith, hope, and love, among many others, to build “bridges to the moon.”
Look around you. What broken place is within 10 feet, 10 yards, 10 miles, of you right this very moment? How can you bring the hope of the gospel, the imagination of redemption, into this place? What will you do with the gospel you have been given to live and proclaim? I confess I’ve tossed up too many wood-sheds and resigned myself to the cramped life they barely afford. I pray for myself and you that we may dream and build gospel palaces, places to invite the least and the lost to come and celebrate the glory of God’s wild grace.