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Facing Reality

Updated: Aug 6, 2022

Reality is large, at once so obvious and yet so difficult to grasp. “Reality” said Hans Rookmaaker, ”is facts plus meaning.”

This is beautiful. Just after reading those words I walked out into the garden here at the CityGate house in Bratislava. Tuula, my wife, was arranging some flowers in the bright sunshine, the house was full of people thinking about the meaning and purpose of their lives, and she was giving meaning to the life around her in the creative way she does, nurturing beauty with tenderness. This was reality and I had deeper appreciation for her. Meaning comes out of the relationship of people and things to each other. The facts are what we arrange.

The joy of reality is that we are human and the sadness is that we are also fallen. These two facts, our dignity and our depravity, run together through every fibre of our being. They cannot be divided. Today, I have been in a mental fog, this makes me angry. Other people feel the anger and are afraid and we fight though it to grace, but it does not come easily—this is reality and it hurts. There are so many places to hide from the pain of it. We retreat into our addictions and idols. We retreat into the “safe” places, afraid to confront who we really are. We can cower on the sidelines of life, becoming shadows of ourselves, living in our illusions, or we can step out and face the reality of who we are and become “men with chests”[2] as God meets us with his grace. But this repentance is painful, pride must be broken. This is why truth must be spoken in love, because we are fragile. Difficult truth must be delivered in perspective and proportion. Truth delivered in anger does not accomplish this.

Our anger takes us back to the past and our fears draw us into the future. But we meet Christ in the present reality, moment by moment. We worship him in truth: the reality about him and about ourselves, the Spirit[3] convicting and comforting. We meet him in our prayers. Forgiveness frees us from the burdens of the past and trust in his loving kindness frees us from the anxieties of the future. “I am with you always,” whispered into trembling hearts. And so we come into the present, into his presence, the great “I AM”, the infinite and personal source and centre of all reality, and we bow down and worship. The experience of God always happens in the reality of the present moment, all experiences do.

Therefore, pray that we do not hide from the ugly truth about ourselves or the beautiful truth. Pray that we face it as those who believe and demonstrate to the world that there is no gap between the reality of Christ and everyday life.

[1] Hans Rookmaaker Complete Works, Vol. 6

[2] C.S. Lewis, The Abolition of Man

[3] Gospel of John

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