I like contemplation. It doesn’t always lead to action, but that’s ok. The act of thinking is under-rated. Good thought processes require good foundations, something severely lacking in modern society. The tree of information we eat of becomes the system that we live from.
A good foundation
That’s why I appreciate my Christian upbringing. The Bible stories my parents read to me whilst young shaped my thoughts, the songs I heard at church and in the home did the same. Beyond that, after I got filled with the Holy Spirit, I began to set myself times for prayer and Bible study. I closed the door and wouldn’t leave the room until at least an hour was finished.
When I began, it was five minutes of prayer followed by fifty-five minutes of thoughts. I would often do battle with those same thoughts, as they were distractions. I found that reading the Bible first would set a pattern and language to think and pray in, making the time pass quickly.
Jesus never insisted upon time limits for prayer, but he did leave us an example. Hours in secret prayer will change your life. It takes time and space to deconstruct falsehoods and bad thinking, then more time to construct better thoughts, prayers and actions through the Holy Ghost. Space grants time to contemplate.
The wonders of space
Space fascinates me. It gets me philosophical. How could you look at the stars and not fall in love with wisdom! It sure explains why one of my favourite movies is “Interstellar”. The imagery, music and theoretical concepts involved make it something I can watch over and over. So when I chanced upon a preview of the latest sci-fi starring Brad Pitt called “Ad Astra”, I wanted to see it and so I did. It didn’t disappoint.
Sitting in V-max on my own, I took it all in. The film is masterfully constructed to the point where I felt immersed in the silence and vastness of outer space itself. The film contained a few purposeful, very subtle, timed religious statements or prayers at different points, I couldn’t help but imagine them as important metaphorical moments.
The story is of a father and a son. A heroic yet absent father searching for intelligent life in the heavens leaves a son behind who survives and excels in his work by compartmentalising his life and memories, allowing him to supress emotional attachments and distance present difficulties in order to achieve mission success.
The son, played by Brad Pitt, is given the chance to reach out to his presumed dead father. Once the journey commences, his mental fitness which is constantly monitored, begins to waver and slowly unravel. During his journey toward his father, the son must overcome his pre-conceptions of a father he only ever really knew from his own imagination and what others had told him about him.
Finally coming face to face with the man he thought he knew, the son meets a father entirely different than he imagined him to be. Sadly, he must cut the cord and let him go in order to survive. Once the cord is cut from his imaginations and false notions of his own father, the son sees clearly enough to begin cutting the cord from the false self he had developed and maintained all his life through a false narrative in his mind.
His striving and working to please someone he never really knew, and search for meaning in other worlds is replaced by the realization that the search for relationship with a distant father had detached him from the relationships he already had.
The gift of the Holy Spirit
It reminded me of the gift of the Holy Spirit. Without the Holy Spirit, religion can only lead us on a quest for a Father who we don’t really know.
Our heads are plagued by doubts concerning God. ‘Is He good or bad?’ ‘Does He love us or is He trying to kill us?’ ‘Will we make Him proud by our efforts in case He sees us?’ These are the futile thoughts of an abandoned son. We religiously evaluate ourselves but never to the point where we won’t derail from the track we know.
When the Holy spirit comes, He reminds us of truth and of the love we eternally have. He gives us peace that we are not searching for a distant Father, but one who is with us, even in us. He cuts away all our illusions so that we may come back home to our origin.
A fellowship face to face with Father and Son, the place where we were conceived through the word of God, where love and life eternally exist. The Holy Ghost allows us to see the beauty in our search, but in the end reveals that there is no place like home, and His presence in our present is altogether satisfying. The Spirit of Truth is our memory of a life forgotten, face to face with our Father, and that is a thought worth contemplating.
Joshua Robbie is currently serving the Lord under Pastors Ronnie and Shirley Naidoo of KZN Celebration Centre in Tongaat South Africa. He and His wife Rene’ moved from Australia to South Africa in April 2016. Their desire is to help in whatever way they can so that the church can become all that God has purposed her to be. Josh is a painter by trade and also enjoys sports such as surfing, basketball and boxing.
Josh Robbie previous articles may be viewed http://www.pressserviceinternational.org/josh-robbie.html