I live alongside a mysterious lake. With volume enough to cover all of North and South American in a foot of water, Lake Superior is staggeringly in size, beauty and inspiration. Her scene changes daily: one day there are waves large enough to crash over the break walls of the harbor, the next day a perfect mirror reflects every cloud that passes overhead.
On this particular day, the day we were driving home from a family wedding in Iowa, the water couldn’t seem to tell itself from the sky. Out my window was a blur of serene white, with no distinction between lake and atmosphere. The two, stitched together with an invisible, binding thread, were like an obsessive thought that had no end.
To see the lake this way, undefined and virtually lost, was disorienting. When my eyes span the vastness that hems in 150 miles of Minnesota, I expect to see the horizon, the edge that tells my brain here is the end of one thing and the beginning of the next. When I don’t see it, I feel as lost and undefined as the water appears.
Because, as much as I might seem to be a free-spirit (whatever that means!) and as much as I am a person who appreciates days without agenda and home decor whose theme is ‘a lack thereof’, I have a deep and relentless need for boundaries.
I need to know one thing from the other.
I’ve learned that if I don’t know where I end and where my husband (my daughter, my friends, my family, my neighbor, etc.) begins, I lose myself and make poor decisions. (I could dedicate an entire blog to my personal history’s outlandish examples of this!)
If I don’t know where the tragic news that defines our world’s reality ends and where God’s sovereignty begins, I am easily swallowed up and consumed by fear.
If I don’t know where tomorrow begins (all its demands & expectations) and where today ends, I become hopelessly blind to today’s moments of beauty, every small joy-detail, every fragile leaf that flutters in the ever-present breeze of grace.
If it all becomes a blur, I am lost.
This is a dire matter, as far as I’m concerned. Because if I’m not careful, if I’m not vigilant about knowing this from that in the small things, I’m confident I won’t be able to tell this from that in the grand scheme. If I can’t tell today from tomorrow, how can I be trusted to know the difference between truth & lie, immense life & utter death, the heart’s freedom & its enslavement?
This is a dire matter because this broken world is wrought with forces bent on blurring the horizon line between these crucial opposites. And left to its own devices, this heart of mine is bent on permitting this blur to such an extent that when I survey the vastness, no distinction can be made between these critical polars.
I trust the reader to understand the severity of the situation without the writer waxing poetic on the dangers of a heart not recognizing the distinction.
Before compasses, sailors relied on the horizon and a star’s finger-width distance from it to navigate accurately. No horizon, no latitude measurement, no sure way of knowing which direction to go. The horizon was also, and still is, a stalwart and unmoving assurance that helped keep the sailor’s stomach from churning right along with the waves. And I can imagine a horizon line was the promise that made them feel safe. Like the strong arms of a mother around a scared child, the four walls of a house during a storm.
My journey as a human on this earth is akin to that of a sailor on an open-sea voyage. Where there is no horizon line to keep me sane and assured, there is only confusion, sickness and a desperate, fruitless clamoring to not get lost.
Fortunate for all of us on this rolling, watery tide called human existence, there is a Horizon. And just because there is a force that delights in blurring Its edge, its existence is not negated. Look for it. Ask to see it. Trust that it is there.
Then keep your eye steadily, determinedly on It. Because where there is no Truth, no blessed assurance of salvation, no Promise Kept, there is only a vastness of lies, dashed hopes & death determined to ruin the vessel and drown the sailor.
The Horizon is the necessary distinction.