Monthly Archives: September 2015

Last Words . for Now

Blind Faith (No. 39, 2015)
Weekly Devotional for September 24, 2015
Last Words . for Now

Last words.. To keep from being too dramatic, adding the “. for
now” is crucial. Blind Faith weekly devotionals will take (at least) a
sabbatical after this post. Expect an announcement in December about any
developments regarding the future of Blind Faith. I will miss our virtual
visits at the end of each week – although I am looking forward to the
freedom from deadlines for coming weeks. I’ll keep you in my prayers.

That “last words .” notion hit the play button for my mental
soundtrack. No hymns came up on the playlist this time, but a favorite Billy
Joel album started playing immediately. Billy Joel’s River of Dreams album
was released in 1993. It was his 12th and final studio album, to date. He
has released live concert albums and “greatest hits” collections and boxed
sets since, but he has not returned to the studio to produce any newly
written and recorded songs. I have contended from the first time I listened
to the River of Dreams album that it is a profound secular parable of an
achingly unfinished spiritual quest. The album should be listened to in the
order that the tracks are listed, not in shuttle or random mode in order for
the story to come through clearly. The first tracks chronicle a spiritual
wasteland of materialism, betrayal by supposed friends, the transitory
nature of sensual pleasures, and unfulfilled hopes for personal
relationships. Answers that once seemed certain are found to crumble into
ambiguity. Yet later songs voice an unrelenting drive to find enduring
meaning and a sense of spiritual wholeness. The title track, “The River of
Dreams,” confesses the continual search for truth over dry platitudes,
genuine faith over disorienting doubt, and sacred presence over paralyzing
fear. The quest is fully recognized as a lifelong spiritual hunger. As the
song fades on the album, a single, seeking “Gloria!” can be heard.
Unfortunately, no resolution of the yearning for soul-sustaining meaning is
heard. The final track, “Famous Last Words,” offers a refrain I identify
with as I think about closing this series of Blind Faith devotionals:

These are the last words I have to say
That’s why this took so long to write
There will be other words some other day
But that’s the story of my life.
(“Famous Last Words,” River of Dreams, Billy Joel, 1993)

I don’t quote Billy Joel’s words or refer to the story of River
of Dreams to indicate in any way that I have concluded that the search for
spiritual wholeness is futile. On the contrary, I am firmly committed to the
transformative, sustaining hope offered by God’s grace through faith. These
Blind Faith devotionals have often dealt with everyday events and
experiences shared by many people. I have sought to touch on elements of
spiritual seeking that can show up even in what seems to be the most mundane
daily actions. All humanity seeks constantly for spiritual wholeness –
integrity of faith – in order to live in the most authentic relationship
with oneself, God, and others. The Bible, hymns, and exemplary acts of
faithfulness combine to clarify God’s promise of hope and God’s sustaining
presence alongside each of us as we keep on searching for spiritual
wholeness. My hope has been that you might have been conditioned to discover
God’s grace in the routine events of your own life. For now, I have written
what I feel God has prompted me to write to point the way toward faithful
resolution of the quest – again, for now.. Blind Faith has been a cherished
part of the story of my life.

So, the closing tracks for this iteration of Blind Faith contain
statements from the Bible that state very well my own sense of pursuing my
life of faith and also my prayer for you. One of my favorite contemporary
Bible translations, the New Century Version, renders Paul’s words
expressively. Reflecting upon his life and ministry to that point, and
looking toward the future with uncertain but hopeful expectation, Paul wrote
to some of his favorite readers:

I do not mean that I am already as God wants me to be. I have not yet
reached that goal, but I continue trying to reach it and to make it mine.
Christ wants me to do that, which is the reason he made me his. {13}
Brothers and sisters, I know that I have not yet reached that goal, but
there is one thing I always do. Forgetting the past and straining toward
what is ahead, {14} I keep trying to reach the goal and get the prize for
which God called me through Christ to the life above. (Philippians 3:12-14

For now. I don’t know what may lie ahead for Blind Faith, but I pray that
God will guide me to share his grace faithfully in whatever format the
future may present.

Paul also prayed for his readers, as I pledge to pray for each
of you I know to be Blind Faith readers – and for those unknown to me who
have read Blind Faith because of your forwarding and reposting the
devotionals. His prayer expresses the core motivation for writing all these
years. This has been my prayer for you all along. It will be my prayer for
people who access the archives of devotionals at
http://www/ :

For this reason I kneel before the Father, {15} from whom his whole family
in heaven and on earth derives its name. {16} I pray that out of his
glorious riches he may strengthen you with power through his Spirit in your
inner being, {17} so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith. And
I pray that you, being rooted and established in love, {18} may have power,
together with all the saints, to grasp how wide and long and high and deep
is the love of Christ, {19} and to know this love that surpasses
knowledge–that you may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God.
{20} Now to him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or
imagine, according to his power that is at work within us, {21} to him be
glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, for ever
and ever! Amen. (Ephesians 3:14-21 NIV)

These are the last words I have to say. for now! God’s blessings

– J. Edward Culpepper
J. Edward Culpepper
Huntsville, Alabama, USA

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