Sunday, March 27, 2011
I walked in the door and could smell one of the smells I love - Pine Sol. He had just finished mopping floors and was doing the dishes. I could hear instrumental music in the background, and instantly my heart was curious - who was this man listening to violins and piano? And then I began to recognize....the tune - I heard that same tune many years ago - nine to be exact. They day we were married. He had taken our wedding video and had it converted to DVD (it was in VHS - anyone remember those days?). He kissed me on the forehead and said, "Happy Anniversary." And I was drawn in....
Who were those young kids I saw on the video - the ones time had weathered and worn? I was captivated by the images long locked away on tape, and I with no way to view them. I watched the bridesmaids walk down the aisle, and then the trepidant flower girl, only 3 and her cousin as ringbearer inch their way down. And there, behind the closed doors at the back of the church - the ones with the narrow pane of glass, I see my father lean over and kiss my cheek. The doors swing open and the guests rise for bride as she makes her way to the bridegroom.
She is all smiles, aware of everyone's eyes on her - and her eyes locked on the one waiting for her at the end of that long road. The scene moves to that of the groom - his eyes locked on his bride, beckoning her to join him. I can see the joy in his face and as the two become one, the joining of spirits, signified by the lighting of the unity candle.
And as I watch, God speaks to me in those moments for He is our bridegroom at the end of a road calling to his bride. We leave our mother and father - Adam and Eve, that sinful past, and join His family. It starts with small steps - we hear His word, and it beckons us. He proposes, offering us proof of His commitment to marriage - the Holy Spirit, living in us. We accept with tears of joy, and anticipate the wedding day. The rest of our life, we journey down the aisle, our bridegroom waiting for us at the end of that road. Our eyes are fixed on Him, and He on us. He is full of joy, and love, and hope that He eagerly gives us, his church.
"For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and the two will become one flesh. This is a profound mystery—but I am talking about Christ and the church."
Saturday, March 19, 2011
Lent was a term I didn't grow up with and yet it has me broken to pieces.
I am unwound, shattered, heaving in the memory of the Christ-man's donkey ride to impending torment, torture, and death. He willingly went, and He knew what was to come. My heart aches, screaming for Him to avoid the pain - the betrayal, the denial, the whips ripping flesh and bruising bone. The public display of disgrace turned to flag-waiving, glory-freedom shining bright in darkness.
He breathes His last and the Earth shook. I too, am shaken. The veil rips and I too, am torn. Oh, my Savior, why for me? Why for anyone? This love that surpasses understanding - that cannot be fathomed by comparing it to anything in the known, but only the unknown. A love story that cannot be contained even in His Book, but spills out and into us through His Spirit, speaking, groaning the power of His overwhelming, complete love. "Who am I that the Lord of all creation dares to know my name?" This Savior dripping grace at the cross.
And I kneel there, unable to move. My tears mingling with His blood - that deep red whispering "rescued through mercy, forgiven by grace". And I am nothing. And He. is. all.
And yet - I am His treasure, and He is my God. Oh this mystery of love, how can it be? It washes over me and I am rendered useless. unwoven. untied. by pure grace.
“Praise be to the Lord, the God of Israel,
because he has come and has redeemed his people.
He has raised up a horn of salvation for us
in the house of his servant David
(as he said through his holy prophets of long ago),
salvation from our enemies
and from the hand of all who hate us—
to show mercy to our fathers
and to remember his holy covenant,
the oath he swore to our father Abraham:
to rescue us from the hand of our enemies,
and to enable us to serve him without fear
in holiness and righteousness before him all our days.
And you, my child, will be called a prophet of the Most High;
for you will go on before the Lord to prepare the way for him,
to give his people the knowledge of salvation
through the forgiveness of their sins,
because of the tender mercy of our God,
by which the rising sun will come to us from heaven
to shine on those living in darkness
and in the shadow of death,
to guide our feet into the path of peace.”
Thursday, March 17, 2011
She asked me how how I will teach my daughter about feminism, and the foundation under me trembled.
You see, it wasn't the idea of teaching my daughter about historical facts of the "feminism movement" - afterall, that's just a history lesson, and she's only six. No, my foundation shook because of the legacy that movement has left - a legacy of destruction. What were "we" as women thinking really? - crawling out of despair and discontentment by screaming, "I am woman, hear me roar". In our effort to instill justice and equality, rather than asserting our roles as women, and how neccessary they were, we instead aspired to be men.
How could a movement built on the premise that it was promoting the "Woman" do so by telling her to become a man? Didn't it accomplish exactly the opposite of what it set out to do? Women wanted affirmation of their value to the family - and they touted it by saying they didn't need a husband. They wanted freedom from the oppression they saw as motherhood, and turned their babies over to daycare centers. Women fled from the inadequacy they felt in their homes and in their spirits by pursuing power, pride, and prestige. And what did we get? We got buried under the weight of two jobs - a full-time career and a full-time family. We found out that we couldn't handle all of this, and the size of our families decreased to compensate. Our homes grew larger and our marraiges crumbled. Our kids depend more on prescriptions to fill the holes left in their spirit that used to be filled with classic children's tales, read aloud by mother. We traded the sweet seductiveness of kind service to our husbands for sultry romance idealized by a body shape that is unattainable and ever youthful as our own years press on.
Did we really get what we wanted?
And yet, it really is the same story told throughout the generations isn't it?
We who recognize the hole in our spirit, stuff it with a fix prescribed by ourselves - doctors without a license, and our prescription fails.
The innoculation of our vaccine that wards off discontentment renders useless, and we still wind up empty.
When will we realize that true worth, true freedom, true joy, true satisfaction is found only in the gentle, ever-reaching arms of Jesus Christ? He who took all of His just anger and wrath for all sins ever committed before and ever to be committed and laid it on His Son so that He may shout with joy - you are freely, entirely, fully forgiven - yesterday, today, and tomorrow - always. completely. forgiven. These women who pushed forward the feminism movement found ache and discontentment - lives spent on things that hold no eternal value, and the aching, yearning for the chance to do it over again - to spend time on what mattered. We don't have to live this way!
I will teach my daughter that she too has this "spirit-hole" - and that the world will try to fill it. But complete restoration is always found at the foot of the cross. A cross where He had holes of His own - pierced hands and feet, a spear wound gushing, the drops of blood as the skin on His forehead gave way to thorns. These holes were not empty, waiting to be filled. Instead, they poured out of their depths everlasting life, filling, penetrating the spirit-holes in us. And the Holy Spirit completes the mystery - Christ in us! -the hope of glory!
You have made known to me the path of life; you will fill me with joy in your presence, with eternal pleasures at your right hand.
Friday, March 4, 2011
My baby refuses to eat from a bottle. He wants his Momma. More than that, he wants the closeness, he wants the comfort, he wants what he has always known.
He wimpers in hunger, his stomach anxious to drink the milk, but his heart rejecting the method like a child unwilling to swallow the very medicine that will restore them to good health.
I act like this baby sometimes. Sometimes God gives me something that is good for me - something that will nourish my soul. But it comes in a form I am unfamiliar with, in a way I do not understand or need, and I reject the meal he provides, and continue wimpering for something more.
As the mother of this small baby, I know how to satisfy him - I know that if I step in, I can assure a happy baby in minutes, nursing him back to the cuddling and full belly he longs for. It is hard for me to say no - to stay away and allow him to learn, but neccessary nonetheless.
I imagine God feels the same way - so able to satisfy our longings, but knowing what is best for us may come with a little pain. He could step in, but we would never learn the lesson, and we would be right back where we started at the next feeding. So he chooses to wait, and make us endure, make us accept - to give us the unknown. He did it in the desert with the Israelites, giving them bread they had never seen and water from a source they had not fathomed.
We are like the Israelites - eating the mystery.
"He humbled you, causing you to hunger and then feeding you with manna, which neither you nor your ancestors had known, to teach you that man does not live on bread alone but on every word that comes from the mouth of the LORD."
May we guzzle every spirit-meal He provides no matter what form it comes in, knowing that it will nourish and satisfy our hunger!
Tuesday, March 1, 2011
But seasons really are so much more. Time Markers.
I saw it right in front of me for the first time - time passing - physically, day by day. Seasons come and go and time ticks only to be marked by these changes.
Our lives have seasons too - time markers. Some of us name them.
The summer I lost my mom. The year I was diagnosed with cancer. The winter I miscarried. That year we went to Europe. The month we got engaged.
Our seasons might be marked with new life, new hope like spring. But others are more like fall - watching time pass and life wither. Our season can be long, and dark, and cold. It can take so much longer to get through it than we bargained for. We can be ill-prepared - like trudging through thick snow in a bathing suit, arguing that life is unfair and cruel and bodies are weak. Or it can be sweet and joyful - breezing by with hope and contentment, distracting us with its sweet elixir until the day we wake up and realize its gone - wishing we could do it again, not take it for granted.
I marked the beginning of a new season today. A season marked by a decision I didn't want to make with an outcome I wouldn't choose, but has to be nonetheless. Sometimes seasons come when we don't want them to. And I know in the big picture this season will not last long, and will not be as painful as it feels right now, but from today - the first step, the journey seems long and my heart aches. Is there any other way? I have been on this journey before and I am already aware of the answer. I must accept the season. And not just endure - as if I was new life crouching, hidden in the bark or a bulb in frozen ground awaiting warmer days - oh no! I must spring forth with life like crocus popping through a fresh layer of snow in the spring knowing that the thaw is coming.
The vibrant purple flowers mark the bold emergence of first life.
I must show joy and hope in the midst of the season trusting that this too, is for my good - to prepare me for the next season God brings me to - easy or difficult, short or long - a season picked for me by the One who heaps blessings on His children.
"Yet he has not left himself without testimony: He has shown kindness by giving you rain from heaven and crops in their seasons; he provides you with plenty of food and fills your hearts with joy.”
In this season too, I will praise His name.
What season are you in?