Tuesday, 11 November 2014

Blood Swept Lands and Seas of Red

When I heard that the poppy-filled moat at the Tower of London was soon to be dismantled, I had to abandon the coursework and rush to get a glimpse of it...and I did not regret it!
The dry moat surrounding the Tower of London, is home to 888,426 ceramic poppies, each symbolising the life of a brave serviceman killed in the First World War for Britain and Commonwealth. It is a poignant and powerful reminder of life, and in this post I am going to discuss some themes that emanated from my musings as I gazed at the vast 'Blood Swept Lands and Seas of Red'.

Risk Taking

As I (unintentionally) eavesdropped into the conversations around me, I heard many marvel at this aspect of the display - the poppies appear to pour out of a window in a tower, to cover the moat; it almost resembled blood being poured out! It was stunning.
It reminded me of the safe haven of home and country (depicted by the tower) these brave men left, just to be exposed to the harsh conditions of the battlefield (represented here by the expanse of poppies on the moat that braved the rain, sun and snow - if it snowed!). It reminds me of the bridge in Hillsong's Oceans,

'Spirit lead me where my trust is without borders
Let me walk upon the waters, wherever You will call me.
Take me deeper than my feet could ever wander,
where my faith will be made stronger, in the presence of my Saviour'

Risk takers are history makers. Take Mahatma Gandhi, Mother Teresa, Martin Luther King .Jr, Martin Luther and many persecuted Christians around the globe...they all take risks, some small some great, but each one vital to the legacy they left behind. Comfortable service is a non-existent concept! In our service to God, He wants us to step out in faith, because our spiritual risks, are not really 'risks' - He is on our side and in control.

Brevity of Life

This is a theme that resonates through all aspects of the display. The temporary nature of the poppies, reflects the brevity of life; regardless of whether they were exposed or remained in the safety of the tower, they can be dismantled...so it is with every life, it has to end. I noticed that the poppy stems varied in length, perhaps to symbolise the varied ages of the fallen, reminding me of how death does not discriminate by age.
When life is so short, it doubly matters how we spend it. As a Christian I believe I need to justify how I've used every second of my life. I can choose to step out in faith and let God do outrageous things through me, or remain in the comfort of my apathy, locking up the gifts He has given me.

'On every grave stone, between the birth and the death dates there is a dash. That dash is your life - what are you going to do with it?'

The Future Hope

Now to my favourite aspect of the display! As you walk around the moat, you see the poppies extend into the sky - I imagine this to be the souls of the fallen seeking peace at last!
The Christian life is an exciting challenge - the challenge however is not to 'earn' the favour of God, but to BEIEVE in the favour and power we have already received through the blood of Jesus. The power we have access to through His Spirit in us, is able to accomplish 'immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine'(Ephesians 3:20)
How often do we doubt, despite knowing it? How often do we let our natural get in the way of God's supernatural?
It also parallels beautifully with afterlife....but is the afterlife really going to be as rosy as we make it out to be? For a saved Christian, the answer is a resounding 'YES!' We are redeemed or made right with God, through the life and death of Jesus. A righteous, loving and just God cannot overlook our lawlessness, no matter how trivial. It was His love that moved Him to live a human life and die in our place, so that on His account, we could walk free.
Finally, this depiction reminds me that no matter how tough my Christian journey gets, with personal struggles, ridicules or opposition, God is in control, He shall be glorified and ultimately, I get to be with Him in a kingdom where 'there will be no more death or mourning or crying or pain'(Revelation 21:4) Isn't that worth it all?

'So we do not lose heart. Though our outer self is wasting away, our inner self is being renewed day by day. For this light momentary affliction is preparing for us an eternal weight of glory beyond all comparison, as we look not to the things that are seen but to the things that are unseen. For the things that are seen are transient, but the things that are unseen are eternal.' - 2 Corinthians 4:16-18

Isn't art wonderful! It speaks to each one of us individually, in a way that the artist never intended it to!
The display has been extended till the end of November, and if you haven't already I urge you to lose yourselves in it.
Musings apart, the patriot in me was most gratified! The brave servicemen and women who have lost their lives at war for our country, and those who continue to risk theirs, deserve our respect. Lest we forget the price they paid for the freedom we enjoy!

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