A Coal In The Hand

Walking On Water

Reflections on Faith & Art

Chapter 4

I am grateful that I started writing at a very early age, before I realized what a daring thing it is to do, to set down words on paper, to attempt to tell a story, create characters. We have to be braver than we think we can be, because God is constantly calling us to be more than we are, to see through plastic sham to living, breathing reality, and to break down our defenses of self-protection in order to be free to receive and give love.

With God, even a rich man can enter the narrow gate to heaven. Earthbound as we are, even we can walk on water.

~Madeline L’Engle


When we say “God will not give you more than you can bear,” we usually mean troubles, but truthfully we are misquoting 1 Corinthians 10:13 where the subject is temptation.  It is interesting to note that Jesus said the same thing about knowledge.  John 16 reveals this from a conversation with His disciples the night before He was crucified: “I still have many things to say to you, but you cannot bear them now.”  As Leon Morris wrote “There were vistas of truth they could not yet see.”

Light yields light, and the journey is everlasting. As Ken Kovacs said in his book Out of the Depths:

The same is certainly true of us today. The Spirit is still the guide and the teacher and the source of truth, who reveals and discloses to us things beyond our imagining, things beyond our seeing (1 Corinthians 2:6-10), beyond reason, things beyond the limited confines of what we know, whose wisdom leads us forward. We have yet to figure out what it means to really follow Christ, to bear the name Christian. We have yet to fully fathom the heights and the depths of God’s grace and what is being asked of us with our lives. Our hearts need to be as deep and wide as the oceans of God’s love. We have yet to discover what it means when we pray “Thy kingdom come, thy will be done, on earth as it is in heaven”—we certainly haven’t arrived at that new world, that kingdom world.

In Chapter Four of Walking on Water, Madeline L’Engle writes:

We will not have the courage or the ability to unlearn the dirty devices of which Traherne warns us, or to keep our child’s creativity, unless we are willing to be truly “grown-up.” Creativity opens us to revelation, and when our high creativity is lowered to 2 percent, so is our capacity to see angels, to walk on water, to talk with unicorns. In the act of creativity, the artist lets go the self-control which he normally clings to and is open to riding the wind. Something almost always happens to startle us during the act of creating, but not unless we let go our adult intellectual control and become as open as little children. This means not to set aside or discard the intellect but to understand that it is not to become a dictator, for when it does we are closed off from revelation.

What do you think L’Engle means when she says, “I am not an isolated, chronological numerical statistic. I am sixty-one, and I am also four, and twelve, and fifteen, and twenty-three, and thirty-one, and forty-five, and…and…and…”? Is this true for you? What role does four-year-old you have in your life today? Is there a certain age you’ve been that influences you more than others? What is it and why?

JOIN THE DISCUSSION ON FACEBOOK HERE