Wow! The little counter over on the left says this is my 500th blog entry. And I was worried I would have nothing to say after the first month.
I never knew, when I dared to overcome my technophobia to find an outlet for my poems, paintings, photos and musings, that God would have so much more to teach me than overcoming fear of computerese. I sometimes questioned the wisdom of writing about events of this annus horibilis before there was any evidence of it becoming annus mirabilis. And who knew it was going to be an annus horibilis anyway?
What if things don’t work out? What if I die of ovarian cancer? What if the depression comes back? What if our miracle grandbaby doesn’t make it to term? What if our son-in-love dies of necrotizing fasciitis? What if our son and his family never recover losses from the flood? Maybe I should wait before I write about them, to make sure God answers our prayers.
Then it occurred to me that I am not in charge of God’s P.R.. This is what it is like to walk in faith, not knowing how the cliff-hanger ends. (And honestly I did not make this stuff up. It has been a horrible time -and a miraculous time.) I have also noted that my anxious questions starting with “what if” seldom come in God’s tender voice.
So to celebrate 500 posts I have chosen not the five most popular blogs but five with the most meaning to me -some of them written in blood and some of them written in tears of joy. Five, because the number 5 is symbolic of grace, and Charis, my chosen name, means grace in Koine Greek, the language of the New Testament. (Psallo means song, and since I have lived a life full of songs it seemed appropriate.)
Right off the bat I’m going to cheat on my own rules because these two posts are part of one story that cannot be separated (and I can do that -my blog, my rules, and my bending of rules) This is about how God took something utterly horrible and turned it into something miraculously wonderful. These were written during the time many excellent doctors expected our son-in-love to die from multiple overwhelming complications after contracting an extremely severe case of flesh-eating disease. He has been restored to full health and the story is just too too too good not to tell over and over -so it goes first. Love is Louder and Love is Louder part II
One of the hardest parts in co-operating with Jesus’ healing work and recovering from the prison of the past is the struggle with forgiveness. Letting Go is a poem about stepping away from practised anger and entrenched bitterness.
Tonight as I gave approval to a friend’s pithy observation, it dawned on me that clicking on LIKE on Facebook or on blog posts is the modern equivalent of saying “Amen.”
I looked it up to make sure it meant what I thought it did.
Expression of agreement or confirmation used in worship by Jews, Christians, and Muslims. The word derives from a Semitic root meaning “fixed” or “sure.” The Greek Old Testament usually translates it as “so be it”; in the English Bible it is often translated as “verily” or “truly.” By the 4th century BC, it was a common response to a doxology or other prayer in the Jewish temple liturgy. By the 2nd century AD, Christians had adopted it in the liturgy of the Eucharist, and in Christian worship a final amen now often sums up and confirms a prayer or hymn. Though less common in Islam, it is used after reading of the first sura. (Concise Encylopedia)
So instead of amen we Canadians could correctly say, “For sure, eh?” or click on LIKE.
Whatever God has promised gets stamped with the Yes of Jesus. In him, this is what we preach and pray, the great Amen, God’s Yes and our Yes together, gloriously evident. God affirms us, making us a sure thing in Christ, putting his Yes within us. By his Spirit he has stamped us with his eternal pledge—a sure beginning of what he is destined to complete.( 1 Corinthians 1:20-22 The Message)
God’s promises come with a yes. To which the response is (altogether now) Yes! or Oh yeah! or Right on! or I solemnly affirm or —--LIKE!
This evening I was asking the Lord the rather useless question, “How long?” (Useless because “soon” to him seldom seems like soon to me when we’re talking about seeing promises fulfilled.) In my frustration I dropped my work and went for a walk around the neighbourhood.
As I was taking photos of flowers I remembered a post I made on April 14, about how God always keeps his promise, that spring was coming even though, at the time, we couldn’t see it and the robins were sitting in a snow-filled tree. It was like He said, “Did I not keep my promise?”
He did indeed. Spring has turned to summer. The flowers bloom and the fruit is beginning to ripen.
He showed me more and more of his beautiful promises fulfilled.
And as a special gift -a robin in a big old pine tree. When I looked at my photos I saw the heart shape the branches made.
You’re good, Abba. I praise you for your faithfulness. You do keep your promises.
“It is not for us to predict the day – but the day will come – when people will once more be called to speak the word of God in such a way that the world is changed and renewed. It will be a new language, perhaps quite non-religious language, but liberating and redeeming—like Jesus’ language; so that people will be alarmed and yet overcome by its power – the language of a new righteousness and truth, a language proclaiming that God makes peace with humankind and that God’s kingdom is drawing near. Till then the Christian cause will be a silent and hidden affair, but there will be those who pray and do right and wait for God’s own time.”
-Dietrich Bonhoeffer. Thoughts on the Day of Baptism, Letters and papers from prison.
It’s time to let go of this day, but I don’t want to let go. I want to squeeze more out of it.
Hey, God! I still have questions! I don’t understand what your plans are in regards to this flood thing. My kid’s house has a big old “UNINHABITABLE” sign slapped on it now after 8 feet of sewage-contaminated river water swamped everything they worked so hard for and has left nothing but a mess and a huge mortgage. What now? This waiting, waiting, waiting is getting a little hard on the nerves, not just for them (and us) but for everyone in their town. I know you promised to never leave your children destitute or begging for bread, but I’m watching my grandkids having to let go of their beds, their bikes, their books, their clothes -everything that is familiar. I’m watching my son and daughter-in-law who are the hardest-working, most giving people I know, just standing by, unable to do any more work, feeling exhausted and discouraged with nothing left to give and no home to go home to.
This is hard Lord. I would appreciate some answers about now.
And as I try to figure out how to help them -and can’t do it- I am reminded that God promises to give peace that passes understanding. God is not logical. Neither is he illogical. He is supra-logical, transcendent. He cares about our minds enough to protect them with his peace, but his peace requires a bit of letting go of our own right to understand.
Don’t worry over anything whatever; tell God every detail of your needs in earnest and thankful prayer, and the peace of God which transcends human understanding, will keep constant guard over your hearts and minds as they rest in Christ Jesus. (Philippians 4:6,7)
Elisabeth Elliot wrote, “Waiting on God requires the willingness to bear uncertainty, to carry within oneself the unanswered question, lifting the heart to God about it whenever it intrudes upon one’s thoughts.”
To tell you the truth, I would be rather disappointed in a God who is no smarter than I am. The most intellectually wealthy folks on earth (and I’ve known a few) have trouble squeezing their brains through the eye of the needle as much as any rich man’s stuff-laden camel. Brains are not enough. In fact our heads tend to get stuck in narrow places or throw our balance off when they become too big. Unless we are willing to jettison not only some of our stuff but our need to comprehend the eternal repercussions of any event right now, or at least submit that need to the One who can see the whole big, B-I-G picture, there is no peace.
The peace that passes understanding leaves our understanding in the dust.
You have brought me through so many tough, tight places, Lord. I will remember and honour you by trusting you and going to bed now -in peace.
P.S. It will be interesting to see how you get us out of this one.