Tuesday, October 01, 2013

Prayer and Seeing Sub Specie Aeternitatis (PrayerLife)

Kites over Munson Park (Monroe, MI)

Sub specie aeternitatis - lit., "under the aspect of eternity." 

When Jesus calmed the storm on the Lake of Galilee the reason he was calm is that Jesus was seeing the storm in a non-earthly way. Medieval theologians would say that Jesus saw the earthly storm sub specie aeternitatis; i.e., from the perspective of eternity. 

The Quaker theologian Thomas Kelly wrote in his exquisitely beautiful book A Testament of Devotion this prayer: God, let me "see earth, through heaven." When we, as Jesus-followers, see the things of earth through the lens of God's heaven, one result would be that certain fears and doubts would dissolve because we would see how, in life's circumstances, God actually is working all things together for good. 

Dietrich Bonhoeffer wrote: "From all this it now follows that the content of ethical problems can never be discussed in a Christian light; the possibility of erecting generally valid principles simply does not exist, because each moment, lived in God’s sight, can bring an unexpected decision. Thus only one thing can be repeated again and again, also in our time: in ethical decisions a man must consider his action sub specie aeternitatis and then, no matter how it proceeds, it will proceed rightly." (Dietrich Bonhoeffer Works Vol. 10, p. 368)

Pray like this: "God, let me see the things of earth through the lens of heaven."