how faint a whisper

glimpses of God in a heaven-crammed earth


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“He who has God has nothing less
than he who has God, and everything else.”
– Heath McNease, The Weight of Glory

I just downloaded Heath McNease’s cd, The Weight of Glory, knowing nothing about him or it except for the fact that each song was based off a different work of C.S. Lewis’. That was good enough for me. I mean, someone who likes reading C.S. Lewis enough to undertake a project like that can’t be a totally horrible songwriter, or at least I hoped. I listened through it once in the car last week, and liked his fun, unique sound and a lot of what I could catch from the lyrics. I can’t ever get all the lyrics the first few times through though…really I like to listen to it and read along in the cd booklet, cause I’m a nerd like that, but he doesn’t have a cd booklet or even lyrics to most of the songs anywhere online that I could find. So, anyway, I’m listening, catching bits and pieces, and honestly, my mind was sort of wandering – you know, paying attention to the road and all that – by the time the last song came on. But I heard this line, and it caught me. “He who has God has nothing less, than he who has God and everything else.”

Really you could stop after the first half of the phrase and have enough truth to chew on for a while with that alone: He who has God has nothing less. Period. End of discussion. Less than what? It doesn’t matter. To have God is to have fullness, to have nothing less of anything that is possible to actually have in this life. Fullness.

Fullness is an interesting word, really. Especially when I consider what the Bible has to say about fullness compared to how often in life I actually feel full. I like to think that I’m a pretty content person, that I don’t desire a lot of things, that I don’t “ask much” of God. But then I’m horrified by seeing my heart in that statement – not even only for the pride in it, but because it’s as if I think I “deserve” the few things I ask for simply because “I don’t ask for much.” Arrogant and self-righteous. great. And hypocritical, really! Because I do want things. Right now, very specific things, honestly, and whether I receive them or not is not the issue, for if I were to receive them I would instantly want more. But…He who has God has nothing less. The Bible says I’m full, but I don’t act much like it. I don’t act like a person who has the fullness of God in the love of Christ, and the fullness of joy in His presence. I don’t think like a person who is the tiniest speck in a world whose fullness belongs to God. There may be sacrifices and struggles and things asked of me in this life, but never do I have to sacrifice the fullness of the joy and presence of God. Then why do I constantly act like a child who doesn’t know where their next meal is coming from, grabbing and gorging and stuffing all I can out of this life? Constantly looking over my shoulder or into tomorrow, never sure there is enough. So rarely resting with the contented sigh of fullness in the arms of the One who gives it.

I’m not really a numbers person, but it’s like that ridiculous argument children have that culminates in something like, “well, I’m cool times infinity!” “oh yeah? well, I’m cool times infinity plus one! ha!” You can’t add to infinity. Infinity plus one doesn’t exist, it’s contained within infinity. As is infinity plus 56,948. The number has no significance whatsoever. Either it’s already covered in infinity, or, with infinity taken away, it’s so completely incomparable. God plus money, God plus job satisfaction, God plus ministry success, God plus marriage, God plus children, God plus comfort, God plus beauty…the plus doesn’t matter. Those are all good gifts, but they are contained within and come from God. And He gives and takes away, as Job so beautifully knew. With or without any of these gifts, what we have is God. And without Him, we really have none of it. We have a 3 stacked up next to infinity. The classic “ignorant child who wants to go on making mud pies in a slum,” that Lewis writes of in his book The Weight of Glory, “because he cannot imagine what is meant by the offer of a holiday at the sea.”

I have a friend that made me think about all these things recently. She is truly one of the most amazing people I know: passionate, steadfast, sacrificial, intelligent, and fun. A loving wife, an amazing mother, and incredibly competent at her job. But recently she was sharing her struggles with simply not having enough hours in the day. No matter how much she does and how well she does it, she constantly feels like she is failing in something. Things are accomplished only at the sacrifice of something else, and since she desires to do all things well, the failures can seem to weigh heavier than all the successes. Since we are often the most critical of ourselves, I look at her from the perspective of a friend and am blown away by what she does, and does well. So knowing how this weighs on her weighs on me also. When I heard this song, she was the first person I thought of. And the reasons for that are contained in a lot of the history of our friendship as well, not just this most recent conversation. We’ve talked at length about brokenness, and basically, as Rich Mullins says, how “we are not as strong as we think we are.” We are broken people living in an incredibly broken world and more and more the journey seems to start with seeing that. Seeing our failures and our inabilities and our weakness and our sin. Because then we realize again that the important part is the beginning of the phrase – she who has God. She who has God has nothing less, even when we feel like we are the less. We fail. We still have God. And God is still enough.

I think I was so excited to remember this truth for my friend because I also needed to remember it for myself. Though our circumstances are vastly different, I realize that I have also been fighting discouragement from feeling like I am failing. Feeling like my life is in a permanent holding pattern and I am accomplishing little of meaning. Feeling like the things I desire are good things (as is my friend’s desire to do all things well), so why do desires for good things have to remain unfulfilled? To help me to remember the fullness of God, even in the brokenness of myself and our world. Maybe that’s part of what the weight of glory means. In his song, McNease also calls it “the hope of this burden.” The hope that this fullness that we know we have and yet constantly have to fight for, will someday be a fight no more. But until then it is a burden, because we’re aware of it, and aware of our failures. And though I feel crushed beneath this at times like now, the truth is that I have God, and that is nothing less than the everything else I desire, including even the desire to be free from that crushing weight.

I’ve read a good amount of C.S. Lewis, but I haven’t read The Weight of Glory. It’s getting bumped up on the list, though. From a quick search of quotes, I can already see that so much of McNease’s song (including the quote above) is straight from the pages of the book, a reshaping of Lewis’ words. But both the words and the reshaping are beautiful, and I’m thankful for what they remind me today – the reality and the promise.

“At present we are on the outside of the world, the wrong side of the door. We discern the freshness and purity of morning, but they do not make us fresh and pure. We cannot mingle with the splendours we see. But all the leaves of the New Testament are rustling with the rumour that it will not always be so. Some day, God willing, we shall get in.”
– C.S. Lewis, The Weight of Glory

Heath McNease’s cd is currently free on Noisetrade.

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