The Long Obedience in the Fourth Dimension


Photo: Maxime Le Conte des Floris

Warning…this starts with a rant.

Okay. Here goes.

I’m in wait mode. I don’t like being in wait mode, but they say it’s good for me. I don’t buy it. What am I waiting for? I’m waiting for feedback on Rescuing Christina from my blue-haired editor Liz. That’s not her name; it’s just what I call her.

While I wait for Liz, I’m perfecting my book launch strategy and developing the requisite launch period artifacts. Artifacts is a word commonly used in the IT world when people want to appear to be smarter than anyone else in the room.

I also enrolled in another VERY expensive Facebook Ads course to learn how to leverage the power of Mark Zuckerberg’s dorm room dream into a 5 figure monthly income that would go directly toward the damn bills I’m racking up running Facebook Ads that generate leads only from people who live in countries that don’t have access to Amazon. Yeah, that’s right. I’ve managed to build an incredibly large email list of subscribers, 80% of whom live in South Africa. And yeah…I discovered yesterday that South Africa doesn’t have direct access to the Amazon site from which I will be selling my literary wares. Now I know why South Africa was sending me 45 leads a day in trade for one of my books. “FREE BOOKS!” from the stupid woman in the States.

I’ve started chanting Romans 8:28 under my breath six times a day, frightening my youngest daughter whose eyes tell me she’s worried, yes, very worried about “Mah-muh.”

Along with these practical irritants biting at my heels, I’m wondering what I might write after Rescuing Christina is out in the wild and has lost it’s initial luster. As indie author’s know, you have to keep writing and putting product out there to get the revenue machine up and running. Rescuing Christina is my fifth book and I’m wondering when this revenue machine’s engine is going to crank over. I’ve given away plenty of free books, but alas, my audience remains elusive. I know they’re out there! Please God, let them be out there! I can only take so much humiliation.

Fortunately for me, I have more immediate concerns to deal with and don’t have time to worry about what’s next, otherwise I might feel irrelevant, ignored, forgotten, and all other adjectives that end with the proclamation of “woe is me.”

I told my husband I want to write something called “The Long Obedience.” He said, as he always does, “That sounds good!” He’s such a great supporter. Anyway, we went for a walk last weekend and I asked him what he thought it was about. Big mistake. He had no idea. So I took the opportunity to explain.

The Long Obedience is about living life under patient restraint, knowing there’s no path of least resistance, no freedom in returning to old anesthetizing habits, and that those lifelong consequences of early life mistakes are just that: lifelong. It’s how life really is. The more we deny it or avoid it or gloss it over, the lonelier and more despondent we become.

The Long Obedience gives a nod to how life really is. But then it begins its work, enveloping the whole of our existence, including the bad stuff, and carries us along, opening our life to a present peace with Him, and hope for a future because of Who He is. He can open all doors, smooth all paths, and His love for us is incomprehensibly faithful and steadfast. The Long Obedience hangs on all the time, especially when times get tough. Like when you’re spending money you don’t have to get email subscribers you can’t sell any books to and your husband is wondering when this writing thing is going to take off.

Maybe I just need to write better books…just a thought.

That’s what The Long Obedience is about.

Okay. Stay with me. This is going to seem like a non sequitur. The show Agents of Shield is one of our current binge-watch programs, along with Cheers and The Dick Van Dyke Show. The last two are brilliant…we used to be so witty.

Anyway, while watching Agents the other night, Fitz, the geeky scientist character, offered a brilliant explanation of the 4th dimension. Daisy, one of the team members and an “inhuman” herself, had been touched by another “inhuman” during a failed rescue attempt and, as a result, saw the future. And what Daisy saw seemed pretty terrible, so the team began planning how they might change the outcome. As they gathered in a large room within their secret spy headquarters, Fitz stood on the sideline, clearly perturbed while watching the team rehearse all kinds of crazy fight sequences. Finally fed up with what he thought to be a futile expenditure of precious time, he said, “You cannot change the future because what you saw is now! What you saw is in the 4th dimension, and there is no ‘time’ in the 4th dimension. It’s all now! You just saw what happens; you can’t change it!”

The bells went off in my head. That night I began looking for resources to help me learn more about the 4th dimension. I watched a YouTube video produced by a high school student who will likely one day build a gateway to the 4th dimension (scary smart). I also downloaded a good book.

The simplest explanation I found walks through the dimensions, starting with the 1st, a straight line allowing movement backwards/forwards. The 2nd dimension allows movements to the left/right, like drawing a two-dimensional square. The 3rd dimension allows movements up/down, hence taking a two-dimensional square to cubic proportions.

And then there’s the 4th dimension. Here’s a diagram of a hypercube. Pretty trippy, eh? Basically, the lines are extended in the same direction creating a four-dimensional manifestation of the cube. You can sort of get your head wrapped around it by finding the arrows in the diagram and mapping it to the original cube. Sorry, that’s all I’ve got. One YouTube video does not make me a PhD.

I know you’re wondering what my point is. I’m getting to it…patience.

[1]Rudolf Rucker wrote a great little book in 1977 called Geometry, Relativity and the Fourth Dimension. In it he uses a character called A. Square created in 1884 by Edwin Abbott who wrote a book called Flatland. A. Square is two-dimensional and can move forward/backward and right/left. He can’t see anything outside of his two-dimensional existence, such as anything in the third dimension…even though the third dimension contains the 1st and 2nd dimensions. The higher dimension always contains the lower dimensions and the lower dimensions cannot see the higher dimensions.

However, the lower dimensions are not completely blind. Rucker offers this great cartoon sequence demonstrating what A. Square actually sees when something of the third dimension enters his two-dimensional line of sight.

In the first frame A.Square only sees a small point. He can’t see the entire three-dimensional sphere because his perspective is constrained by his two-dimensional flat line of sight. He sees three-dimensional objects in thin slices.

In the second frame, as the 3D sphere descends through his two-dimensional space, A. Square sees only a small circle. In the third frame, he sees a large circle. In the fourth frame, he sees another small circle, and finally in the last frame, he sees a small point. The three-dimensional  sphere has moved through his two-dimensional space.

Taking this idea to the next dimension (yuk yuk), wouldn’t this be true as something from the fourth dimension passes through our three-dimensional space? Wouldn’t we have a peek into the fourth dimension like Daisy did when the inhuman touched her? No, I’m not getting my understanding of reality from a TV show. But I’m going with it.

People I know and authors I read say that we live within the Kingdom of God and that God is ever-present. Let’s say, for the sake of getting to my point, that the Kingdom of Heaven is the 4th…n dimension to our 3 dimensional space, and our space is enveloped by 4th…n dimension, just as the 3rd dimension envelopes the 2nd and 1st dimensions. And let’s say that we, like A. Square, are able to see slivers of the 4th dimension pass through our space.

And let’s also say that there is no concept of linear time in the 4th…n dimension. As Fitz said, it’s all NOW.

You see where I’m going with this…right?

I told my husband it’s too bad we don’t talk about prophecy. Not the socially acceptable kind of prophesy. That kind is really more like wisdom, admonishment, or encouragement. I’m talking about the old school Old Testament kind of prophesy where people “saw” slivers of the 4th…n dimension pass through their space, providing details of future events without much context, yet so specific that if anyone were paying attention, they would have recognized Jesus for Himself when He came.

Sometimes I see things. The context is murky, but there are details so specific that I really hope (and feel like I know) that I’ve obtained a glimpse of His “now.” And it’s good. It’s what gives me the hope and strength I need to trust The Long Obedience.

[1] Geometry, Relativity and the Fourth Dimension (Dover Books on Mathematics) (Kindle Locations 95-96). Dover Publications. Kindle Edition.

One thought on “The Long Obedience in the Fourth Dimension

  1. Wait mode kept tapping me on the shoulder when I was in high school. I ignored it constantly. I don’t ignore it, anymore. There’s something to recognition and “having the time” to recognize. I have been in situations where it seems time not only slows down, but simply stops, exits the room, and flies away. In that house, the clock itself had a dead battery. Symbolic, I suppose. There is a transformation in recognition from an entire culture that has the ability to ignore time altogether. Their skills are necessary to the whole. I suppose they may be the “other laborers” Jesus told everyone to pray for. Also, so that, they also being like thieves, we may see when “a time when we think not” is not a way of saying, “nobody knows,” but is a veritable clue. As is any prophecy, not a statement, but a clue. A clue that must be studied, reasoned, compared, and combined, to understand. As calamities come “when [we] think not,” so also the Son of Man, at a very time-specific moment, comes “when ye think not.”

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