Three Dimensions of a Complete Life

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ScriptureMark 4:1-20, 30-34

The Lament: “Everyday Life” by Coldplay

Take It Further: “Life in 3D” by Julie Cramer

The scrub of Cameroon’s Sahel region—a sand-swept landscape skirting the Sahara Desert to its north—flattened out before us as the van’s tires spun clouds of dust. We were speeding through the bush in a taxi tottering with parcels and a pig. Even as I sat with my fellow travelers—our shoulders compressed and bumping into each other, I was completely anonymous—and I felt completely free.

So is life for an introvert. Traveling through that craggy brush without knowing a soul gave me permission to sit gob-smacked at the beauty of Creation. I could just watch and listen, breath in and out, think and not think. The taxi rocked me with its bouncy beat, and I watched the world fly by with the sound of Fulfulde and wind in my ears. Eventually, the sun abdicated its throne on the horizon and the sky crowned the stars king.

Psalm 19:1–4 says, “The heavens declare the glory of God; the skies proclaim the work of his hands. Day after day they pour forth speech; night after night they reveal knowledge. They have no speech, they use no words; no sound is heard from them. Yet their voice goes out into all the earth, their words to the ends of the world.” God’s tangible handiwork testifies to his intangible hesed, or covenant love.

In the opening scene of the Gospel of Mark, Jesus employs metaphor (the tangible) to describe the conditions of our hearts (the intangible): Listen, he says, and begins to teach them “many things” (v.2), including a story about a farmer sowing seed that fell on various ground (vv.4–8):

  • The path (birds ate it)
  • Rocky (too shallow)
  • Thorny (choked as it grew)
  • Good (prepared and ready)

If we desire to be rooted and growing in God’s truth, we can ask him, simply, to prepare us to receive it. We can go to the water’s edge as the crowd did in Mark 4, lean in, and listen. We can shape our decisions, relationships, and worship with the length, breadth, and height that Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. said makes up “a complete life.”

At the time I was rambling along in that bush taxi, my life lacked this Trinitarian geometry. But the Word was speaking and all of Creation was echoing his message: You are not alone for I AM with you to the end of the age. Both morning and evening, Creation flickers with God’s blinking marquis, and the Word declares that we only experience abundant life when we choose to live it in 3D.

Write down “length (consideration of self),” “breadth (consideration of others)” and “height (consideration of God)” on a piece of paper or in a digital notetaking app. Then beside each one, write one or two things in your life that are working or not working. Consider using these as prayer prompts this week and ask God to prepare your heart to receive what he might say in response.


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*Note: If you wish, you can look up this and other Bible passages online at
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