Welcome to the online home of Timothy Willard, writer, author, speaker, and storyteller.

Screen Shot 2019-08-22 at 11.50.50 AM.png
The Saturday Stoke #9

The Saturday Stoke #9

Dear Friends,

To be known. It’s a primary human longing. We seek it in everything we do.

In our work and in our relationships, the desire to be known for something and by someone drives us.

The lack of “being known” also contributes to the growth of despair in our lives. Negatively, the drive to be known can consume us.

Kierkegaard said that despair is the consumption of the self. Kind of gross, actually. Social media, for example, exposes this deep desire in us and exploits it.

And yet, we content ourselves to exchange hearts for hugs.

The Apostle Paul gets at the notion of “being known” in his letter to the Corinthian church:

For now we see in a mirror dimly, but then face to face. Now, I know in part; then I shall know fully, even as I have been fully known. (1 Corinth. 13:12, ESV)

In the ancient world, mirrors were pieces of polished metal. So, looking in the mirror was an act of discernment—of trying to make out the forms and shapes reflected and “what they signify.”

{Fun fact: The word Paul uses for “dimly” is the word we get our word “enigma.”}

If you flip Paul’s first sentence like Augustine did, you get a vision of fallen man: we used to see God face to face (Adam and Eve), now we (fallen man) must search for him in the mystery (enigma) of forms and shapes of the material world.

One way we search for God is through the beautiful.

We discern the mystery of the beautiful forms and shapes of the world, searching for the source or fountain of beauty.

We search the beautiful, pining for Beauty itself—for God.

C.S Lewis gets at this idea in his essay, “The Weight of Glory.”

He observes how we can, in our search for God, place our affections in beautiful things—things that give us temporary pleasure.

We too easily content ourselves with the dim objects of this world, when Beauty itself waits for us beyond the material world.

Why do we do this?

Because we think that somehow being known in superficial ways on this planet can somehow take the place of being fully known by God.

We want to be known, and we think that the beautiful things of this world can somehow satisfy this longing.

It is like comparing the collection of red hearts on Instagram to the real-life embrace of a friend or spouse or child. There is no comparison.

For Lewis, to be known by God is the weight of glory; one we almost cannot bare:

“To please God … to be a real ingredient in the divine happiness … to be loved by God, not merely pitied, but delighted in as an artist delights in his work or a father in a son—it seems impossible, a weight or burden of glory which our thoughts can hardly sustain. But it is so.”

Here’s a quick hack for realigning your desires.

Ascribe, worship, and tremble. These are our marching orders for today. They help our desires because they have nothing to do with the haughty desires of the flesh. They help because they soar.

Splendor and majesty are before him;
    strength and glory are in his sanctuary.

Ascribe to the Lord, all you families of nations,
    ascribe to the Lord glory and strength.
Ascribe to the Lord the glory due his name;
    bring an offering and come into his courts.
Worship the Lord in the splendor of his holiness;
    tremble before him, all the earth. (Psalm 96:6-9, NIV)

If you want to soar, give flight to thankfulness. Live aware of what weighs you down, and worship God where you sit or stand. Fell the mud drip off as you rise in soaring praise.

A Prayer for Today

Lord Jesus, I give you every breath in my lungs today. I worship and adore you. I kneel and tremble before you. I rest in thanks, for you who are so holy and mighty lift me up on the wings of eagles. And I soar.

Stay stoked my friends.





Soren Kierkegaard, The Sickness unto Death: A Christian Psychological Exposition for Edification and Awakening, Penguin classics (London, England; New York, N.Y., USA: Penguin Books, 1989).

Carol Harrison, Beauty and Revelation in the Thought of Saint Augustine, Oxford theological monographs (Oxford: New York: Clarendon Press; Oxford University Press, 1992).

C. S. Lewis, The Weight of Glory, HarperCollins REV ed. edition. (San Francisco: HarperOne, 2001).

Timothy Willard, Longing for More: Daily Reflections on Finding God in the Rhythms of Life (Minneapolis, Minnesota: Bethany House Publishers, 2014).


The Saturday Stoke #8

The Saturday Stoke #8