Pilgrim Notes

Reflections along the way.

Page 2 of 71

A Song in the Shadow

dancingshadowBehold, you have made my days a few handbreadths,
and my lifetime is as nothing before you.
Surely all mankind stands as a mere breath! Selah
6  Surely a man goes about as a shadow!
Ps 39:5–6.

Just a moment, just a twinkling of an eye, and I’ll be gone. Forgotten. A mere breath. A shadow.

At first, I feel completely insignificant. A speck of nothingness before the vastness. I feel that empty sinking feeling of gazing into the galaxies beyond number, containing billions and even trillions of stars in each galaxy. In light of the immeasurable creation, I am less than a blink.

With the Psalmist I acknowledge, the utter evanescence of my existence. The Psalmist beholds the glory of God and the vapor of human life together. Instead of despair, he finds hope.

And now, O Lord, for what do I wait?
My hope is in you. Ps 39:7.

This little prayer, prayed ages ago is still ringing, singing in my ears.

Oh what cause for joy! I am so minuscule, so minor, so fleeting, and yet, I am here. In His good pleasure, He did create me. He sang His life into me and my heart still pounds with the dance.

The God beyond measure gathers me, you, and all His people up in His love, His grace, His utterly surprising creation.

Yes, we are frail and fading, but we are here in this blink, this breath, this shadowed moment. So we rejoice, we rest in Him.

We hope. We trust that He remembers us and will remember us and will remember us and will continue remembering us as we rise, in just a moment, to the fullness of His glory.

Sliding Shadow image by Annalisa Antonini (used by permission by Creative Commons).

Behold Your Salvation is Near


For salvation is nearer to us now than when we first believed. The night is far gone; the day is at hand. So then let us cast off the works of darkness and put on the armor of light. (Romans 13:11–12)

On some nights, the fog of fear and doubt bewitch the mind and torment the heart. We can be trapped in a moment of anguish that feels like ages. For some people, this moment extends to days, weeks, even years. In C.S. Lewis’s novel, The Silver Chair, the prince has been bewitched by the dark Queen of the Underland. He forgets who he is and becomes her slave. When the children try to rescue him, the Queen tries to seduce them and soon they are ready to doubt the sun, the world above, and the hope beyond them. They are falling under her spell.

The constant bombardment of dark news and sad stories can quickly convince us that darkness is rising and the light is fading. Continue reading

Beginning the Advent Journey

adventThe year begins in darkness. Long nights, short days. We gather before the dawn–in the dark of human struggles and fears and loss. What lies ahead? What obstacles may block our way? Will we lose our way in the valley of the shadow of death? Night terrors haunt our days with division and distrust all around us. The nation is shouting. Brother against brother. Fathers and sons turning apart. Our country and even our world seem doomed to repeat another year of anger and hatred; another year of striving. Continue reading

Murmuring the Psalms


It’s 1:30 in the morning, and I sit soaking in the old familiar Psalms. During the quiet of the night, ancient songs wash over me, renew me and gently lead me back to sleep. These same phrases have quieted my soul for decades. Little phrases linger in my mind, “Teach me your way O Lord, that I may walk in your truth”; “Give light to my eyes or I shall fall into the sleep of death”; and the simple “Bless the Lord O my soul.” In nights of distress, days of darkness and even moments of pure joy, these Psalms give articulation to my stammering heart. Continue reading

On Meeting


“On almost every occasion when I have met somebody, I have met somebody else.” – G.K. Chesterton

“All real living is meeting.” – Martin Buber

When my dad was just a boy, his father took him to the TN Valley Fair. They were sharing a bag of peanuts and walking. His dad walked up to a stranger and offered some peanuts. He grabbed a handful. In a few minutes, they were swapping stories, laughing and becoming friends. My dad told me that story again and again and again. Continue reading

Holy Fire


“The Lord comes roaring out of Zion.” The shepherds weep. The mountains wither. It is a dreadful thing to fall into the hands of the living God. Advent may be far more risky than we ever imagined. The coming of the Lord may cost us everything.

It is so easy to forget that He is a Consuming Fire. Continue reading

Advent Calendar


We had a simple cardboard Advent calendar that marked the days until Christmas. Each day had a small flap that opened to reveal a little picture beneath the larger picture. This simple, inexpensive calendar opened a window to a world of wonders just beyond my grasp. Continue reading

Advent in the Midst of Christmas Rush


We call the weeks prior to Christmas, “Advent.” We order this time for intentional watching and waiting on the coming of the Lord. And yet, during these same weeks we feel the pressure to buy, celebrate, and feast. How do we live into the call to watch and wait while juggling Christmas shopping, decorating, multiple parties, and the ongoing challenges of work and home? Continue reading




Let not steadfast love and faithfulness forsake you;
bind them around your neck;
write them on the tablet of your heart. Proverbs 3:3

Words unfold.
Like the night-blooming cereus, words
open to the patient listener. A treasure
unveiled in the dark night of waiting
and watching. Words like
love and faithful
fragrant the soul with sweetness:
a surprise of hope in the midnight hour.

Love pulses its mystery in giving
and receiving: the Father running
like a child to his prodigal grown old;
the squeals of delight
echoing from the boy and his pup;
sisters’ embrace through the howls
of hard rain coming down.

Faithful takes shape
in a world of pure gift:
water running, roaring, rushing
forward to cracked, parched ground;
last year’s apple tree split by lightning,
bursting with more fruit than ever before;
sunrise rippling across land and sea,
ending the endless night.

Love and Faithful bind me like
the Akedah. Isaac climbing to
his ending and beginning.
Following the bloodstains
to the place of skulls,
I am planted in the Savior’s grasp,
blooming briefly
with love’s light
in the dark of night.

Doug Floyd

Image of Night-blooming Cereus by Cristóbal Alvarado Minic (used by permission via Creative Commons).

Torah and Worldview


Note: I may use this blog to think out loud about the relation of torah and worldview as part of a larger project called, “Discerning Culture: Wisdom and Worldview.” I welcome thoughts and challenges via email or comments.

How might we speak or think about torah and worldview? We might first ask, “What is worldview?” In James Sire’s classic text, “The Universe Next Door,” he suggests that a worldview might be understood as follows:

“A worldview is a commitment, a fundamental orientation of the heart, that can be expressed as a story or in a set of presuppositions (assumptions which may be true, partially true or entirely false) that we hold (consciously or subconsciously, consistently or inconsistently) about the basic constitution of reality, and that provides the foundation on which we live and move and have our being.” [1]

Instead of beginning with philosophical propositions of Christian worldview, I’d like to peer at worldview via the periphery.  As Sire uses the language of story, David Naugle talks about narrative signs,

I suggest that a worldview is best understood as a semiotic phenomenon, especially as a system of narrative signs that establishes a powerful framework within which people think (reason), interpret (hermeneutics), and know (epistemology).[2]

These narrative signs surround us from birth. We are born into a world of language, story, song, jokes and more. The idea of worldview speaks to the compulsion of the mind to grasp our world as a whole. James Orr, one the early writers on worldview, suggested that Christian faith provides a standpoint to view the world as an ordered whole (see Naugle for a good summary of Orr’s thought).

Our worldview is shaped in the family, in the church, in the culture. In other words, it is shaped in the background, on the periphery. Michael Polanyi suggests that “we know more than we can say.” [3] From the moment of birth, we enter a field of knowing. Our view of the world, our standpoint begins being shaped long before we can speak.

With this brief overview in mind, we can begin to think of torah and worldview. Torah is God’s Word sounding forth in this world, his people and the surrounding cultures. It comes as judgment, deliverance, instruction and fundamentally as relationship. Torah is a set of commandments and instructions as well as a set of prescribed rules for worship and sacrifice. It is communicated in law but also in story and song. The Old Testament tells a grand story of a people that God’s calls to Himself and promises to bless all families of the earth through these people.

By reading and reflecting on the stories and songs and wisdom and even laws of the ancient Hebrews, we can find a way to consider worldview through a family, a culture, “a system of narrative signs.” By re-flecting upon these stories, we might be able to see hints of worldview in our own stories, our own family, and our own culture.  In our peripheral vision, we may also catch glimpses of patterns of thought that are enslaving, dehumanizing, anti-creational and more.

[1] Sire, James W. (2009-08-20). The Universe Next Door: A Basic Worldview Catalog (p. 20). InterVarsity Press. Kindle Edition.
[2] David K. Naugle Jr.. Worldview: The History of a Concept (Kindle Locations 146-147). Kindle Edition.
[3] Michael Polanyi. The Tacit Dimension. London, Routledge. (University of Chicago Press).

Image by Dirk Knight (used by permission via Creative Commons).

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