This week I’ve decided to take up sewing, paint the interior of my house (after I redecorate) and-oh, I don’t know-maybe take up sky-diving. This is my usual M.O. when I’m up against anything that falls under the heading of BIG EVENT NECESSITATING EMOTIONAL TAXATION otherwise known as Daughter Getting Married. This is our sixth child to marry and judging from my past experiences, some things never change.
The day before our fourth son Chris married Esther I decided we needed a small brick wall all around the front of our house RIGHT NOW (if I believed in Freud this could be interesting). I ended up with a wheelbarrow of bricks upended on my leg and I’m pretty sure I broke it, but laying on the lawn bargaining with God with everything in my pockets (I’ll give you this rubber band and two marbles) he took them and healed me, but left a limping reminder not to do such a stupid thing again. Not that I had to beg, but I think God is amused when I do.
Let’s see…where was I…oh yeah… anyway, at the park after the rehearsal dinner, the sun was setting and I saw Esther and Chris walking off to their car. Mental lightning struck: MY SON IS GETTING MARRIED TOMORROW! Which, ya’ know, if I’d been paying any attention and not laying bricks, I would have realized earlier. I panicked, “CHRIS!” He dropped Esther’s hand and came back to see what I needed. I stood there alone with my arms full of pre-wedding entrails and cried, “Chris- I forgot to tell you! You were a great son.” The last part came out kind of like a whimper. I can’t believe I actually said that, but it was the only thing that came to mind. His little chuckle and reassuring hug, told me he understood I was weird.
I am absolutely, positively, blessed with my five daughters-in-laws and my new son-in-law. I see how they love my sons and daughter and thank God for each of them. But I’ve gone through this strange behavior each time. I picture the Crocodile Hunter hiding in the bushes with his camera whispering, “Crikey! Look at this- we’ve come upon the female near the wedding. Look at the strange glaze in her eyes. We have to be very careful! She is prone to unpredictable bouts of obsessive compulsive habitat rearrangement.”
So what IS this? I’m not sure, I think it’s my Bon Voyage as they pull away from Safe Haven, while Flotsam and Jetsam (John and I) are left waving and wondering, “Did we teach them enough? Did we teach them anything?
Writing is my other escape pod. But I really have to go now-the wedding is in 3 days and I still have a bedspread to hand-quilt.
Now some cried out one thing, some another, for the assembly was in confusion, and most of them did not know why they had come together. Ac19:32
Find a mob. Rouse them to a frenzy. Bury the facts under rousing speeches of how you- the innocent guy just trying to make a decent living-are being ripped off, and there you have it: “Occupy Wall Street” and “Riot in Ephesus.” When Jesus said, “Occupy until I come,” I doubt He meant Wall Street. But lest we get an “us vs. them” mentality, what about us? Christians are as prone to hysteria as twelve-year-olds at a Justin Beiber Concert. Winds of doctrine blow through the body of Christ faster than a hurricane and with as much destruction. In my 41 years as a believer I’ve seen the mob all lathered up about homeschool vs. public school vs Christian school; birth control vs. “quiver full”( I quivered), and Amway (get filthy rich by selling to your Church friends so you can tithe more). Other issues are too bizarre to mention. I’m a bit of a rebel, so if a Christian tells me “DON’T read that book”, I generally do. I want to know first hand what people are getting riled up about, so I can de-rile, or agree-on a calmer level. The Shack comes to mind here. Some left the church over that book, because among other things, it depicts God as a big, black, mother-type gal. I read it. Good writing, creative. It painted some helpful pictures for me-not of God, but of life and death. I didn’t agree with stuff in it, but why get upset? Hey- did someone just throw a mental tomato at me? It’s fiction for heaven sake! I’ve never heard of anyone getting angry at Rembrandt for his painting The Prodigal Son Returns; wherein the father (who represents God) is depicted with one hand strong and manly- like a good father, the other gentle and soft like a mother. Hmmm…what kind of perversion was Rembrandt portraying? I think I’ll dig up his grave so I can slap him in the face. Or maybe we should all get back to the task at hand: loving Christ and each other. Besides, my brain is a mob unto itself (all those voices…) I don’t need any encouragement in that department. 🙂
God’s will for us in a nutshell: Go. Stand. Speak.
“Go and stand in the temple and speak to the people all the words of this Life.” Acts 5:20
“Go” doesn’t mean we have to wear weird missionary attire and travel to some unpronounceable place (unless, of course, God has told you to go to Xelaju!) Go to work. Go shopping. Go into the kitchen. Go to church. Just go where the Spirit tells you to go.
“Stand”- as opposed to slouching through life like a 16 year-old in math class. Stand up, stand ready, stand still, take a stand (the witness stand), and stand firm in the love and faithfulness of God. Circumstance may buckle our knees, but let it bend them only to pray, then STAND.
“Speak”: Open your mouth and tell those around you all the words of this Life. Say it: say “Thank you” for all the wee small efforts of another. Words of gratitude, humor, acceptance, and confidence cost nothing (except maybe our Prom Queen view of self), but can literally make the difference of life or death for some, and the day a bit easier for all. Speak the truth in love. Sometimes the love part is easier than the truth part. We squirm and settle for skirted truths, half truths, mixed truths, or socially acceptable truths, but we are called to speak all the words: love and truth, mercy and (gulp) judgement, the whole truth and nothing but the truth (So help me, God!).
Where will you go? How shall you stand? What will you speak today?
I remember the day I became Laura Ingalls Wilder. In our old library that smelled of wood polish and old books, I discovered the familiar illustration of a little girl peering from the back of a covered wagon- Little House on the Prarie. Next to it was the same little girl playing in a forest clearing- Little House in the Big Woods. I spent my fourth grade year deep in the heart of that wonderful series, closing These Happy Golden Years, with a deep sigh. I was bent on being a pioneer. I even made adobe bricks in my backyard using Mom’s tupperware as the molds (sorry, Mom). I dreamed of discovery. The thought of no more pioneers, anywhere, left me hungry. It was years before I realized pioneers do still exist! They travel to unreached lands and people, choose a simpler (not to be confused with easier) life among foreign people to share what they know about a God of love. I can be a pioneer. I no longer live vicariously through Laura Ingalls; I live through Christ, who is always up for a new adventure. My Pioneer Days started when I discovered www. Global Prayer Digest. This month, my journey is through Albania, pictured below. My pioneering friends (missionaries to Albania) could use a hand. I don’t need to be Laura Ingalls Wilder to live a wilder life. Jesus is blazing another trail and I’m invited to come along. “Who will go?” Isaiah 6
There is a unique sense of freedom that running produces. Years ago, I ran each morning with my friend Jan. She was a real runner. She ran before it was popular; before running shoes (she wore army boots). She taught me how to run. We’d run at 5 a.m. through a park and behind the zoo where the path was covered by dark branches and accompanied by the sound of lions roaring for their morning meal. I quit running after my fourth baby was born. But for many years I dreamed of running. The sensation of morning air on my face, watching the new morning light rise, the sense of “I can’t keep going” and then- oh! a second wind greater than the first! Psalm 119:32 says:
“I will run the course set out in Your commandments, for they gladden my heart.” Course means way, path, direction, journey. The Lord sets my path, he knows just the right pace for me. I know He will give me the second wind when I’m weary. I don’t need to worry about strength for tomorrow’s run. He knows that course, too. I will run in His path today and enjoy the freedom of knowing He has run before me, will run with me, and will welcome me at the end.
When I was a kid, I collected junk- a.k.a. “Hey, I really needed one of these”. The end of each day divulged pockets full of successful hunting: a crystal disguised as a pointy piece of white quartz from the neighbor’s side yard, 3 pieces of perfectly useable black chalk-like lumps found in a heap of barbecue ashes, a cigarette butt that, when the paper is unraveled, revealed a perfectly cylindrical white piece of…of…what is that? My polka-dot Wonder Bread bags were filled with the likes and stashed in the underworld of my bed. I’d trade the crystal for a slice of bologna at school, draw beautiful sidewalk studies in black of flowers and suns, and soak that white whatchamacallit in water to keep my roly-poly alive.
God is the Ultimate Junk Collector/Treasure Hunter. I know when I offer Him all I have- my loaves and fishes, He will take it and make something bigger, something better, something actually useful. But what if my loaves and fishes are in reality dry heels and fish heads? No matter. Jesus turns them over in His hands, smiles at me and says, “Hey, I really needed one of these.” Then He thanks God and does His thing: TRANSFORMS. What a God, what a Savior, what a really creative Friend.