Getting with the Program | From an Old Soul

by Elouise

Do you long for world peace? George MacDonald’s theme here is similar to earlier sonnets—the slow pace of our progress toward peace. Or, put another way, our full growth as adult children of God.

In the first sonnet (below), he’s saying something like this:

  • Can you believe it? We’ve been invited to ride up on top of the chariot, next to the Lord who has already conquered Death!
  • So why aren’t we up there sitting next to Death’s conqueror?
  • Because we’re stuck. We’re clogging up the works. We’re like a great seabird that can’t soar to the heavens because someone keeps clipping its wing-feathers.
  • Instead of flying or riding up there in the top seat of the chariot, we’re just creeping along.
  • We say we want peace for ourselves and this tired old world. But we’ll never get there at this pace!
  • We need to stop impeding  God’s progress. But how?

For all his belief in God’s power, MacDonald knows we bear our share of responsibility for getting with the program. There’s no such thing as neutrality, and God won’t force our hands. We’re either with the program, or we’re hindering it.

Here are both sonnets, with a few comments below on the second sonnet.

July 8 and 9

Like clogs upon the pinions of thy plan
We hang—like captives on thy chariot-wheels,
Who should climb up and ride with Death’s conqueror;
Therefore thy train along the world’s highway steals
So slow to the peace of heart-reluctant man.
What shall we do to spread the wing and soar,
Nor straiten thy deliverance any more?

The sole way to put flight into the wing,
To preen its feathers, and to make them grow,
Is to heed humbly every smallest thing
With which the Christ in us has aught [anything at all] to do.
So will the Christ from child to manhood go,
Obedient to the Father Christ, and so
Sweet holy change will turn all our old things to new.

George MacDonald, Diary of an Old Soul
Augsburg Fortress 1994

There’s only one way to cooperate fully with the Driver of the chariot. It isn’t to grab the reins or even to be co-pilots. It’s less obvious than that.

MacDonald says that within each of us, as followers of Jesus, is a version of the Christ child. A baby. Not a baby waiting to be born, but a baby already born in us, now living within each of us.

The strength of this growing Christ child in us is related to our growing ability to cooperate with this child instead of standing in the way. When we become all we’re meant to be, so, too will the Christ child in us.

What does this look like? When Christ in us wants access to one of our rooms, closets, attics or barnyard stables, it’s up to us to grant access and to cooperate with whatever needs to be done. Right down to the last dust ball or filthy toilet. It’s called getting with the program.

We play a crucial role in the drama. Yet we aren’t handsome birds preening their already-shining feathers as though we were the stars of the show. Instead, we’re being reclaimed! One cleaned-out closet at a time, one training flight at a time.

When we work with, and not against the Christ child in us, we reflect the relationship Christ has with the ‘Father Christ’ who wills this tired old earth to be at peace. The result? The last line says it all:

Sweet holy change will turn all our old things to new.

© Elouise Renich Fraser, 28 August 2015