I know now, only one summer later, why this outdoor bench was on sale. I need to scrape it down and re-paint it already.
At first it fit the landscape plan perfectly. Now? I really need to paint it.
Sometimes the Lord gives us places to sit and enjoy the scenery on this spiritual journey and they are good places to settle – for a while. Sometimes we discover, when the paint chips off, that we need to get up and pursue a closer relationship with God, a better understanding, a sturdier orthodoxy and more effective orthopraxy that can handle new situations we encounter.
I overheard this discussion between sisters, one three-years old and the other seven-years old.
“I came out of Mommy’s tummy!”
“No. You came out of her uterus.”
“A stomach is for digesting food. You couldn’t have been in her tummy or you would have come out like poop.”
“I am not poop!”
“That’s because you grew in her uterus not her tummy!”
“Mommy said! I was in her tummy and you were in her tummy too!”
“Uterus. Or sometimes they call it a womb, but it’s not a tummy.”
“Mommy! Daisy is lying!”
I’ve seen a lot of discussions between Christian adults take a similar turn lately. When we are learning the basics of life the knowledge that babies come from mommies’ tummies is profound enough and a good place to settle. There is grace for that level of understanding when we love and respect each other. There is also grace for people who have settled on the next bench, and the next, however temporary those positions may be as they continue to journey.
You should have seen the expression on my grandson’s face after his dad told him how babies got in there. “Oh Grammie, it’s nasty! Just nasty! You wouldn’t believe it!”
Some information is too heavy for toddlers. It’s hard enough to hear when you are school aged – or even grandmother-aged. But you can’t avoid that knowledge forever, and it’s best you hear it from parents who are vested in your long-term well-being.
Simple explanations are good enough for babes in faith. Some people are happy to settle there indefinitely and will insist you agree with them. The explanations they are contented with are not untrue (tummy can be a pretty general term), but there is more to be learned in time. When the Lord teaches me something new I am sometimes shocked. I feel unsettled, unsure. I don’t have a grid for it. There is a period of letting go of old incomplete concepts to make room for things I just don’t get yet. For a person who has had trust issues and accepts change slowly this can be a challenge. What do you mean it’s a little more complicated than what I thought?
As the Lord is giving me a more in-depth picture of his holiness and the utter horror and ugliness of sin and how it leads to death, he is also giving me an increasingly overwhelming picture of his majesty, grace and a love I cannot comprehend. It’s a shocking paradox that only makes sense when viewed from where he sits. This requires some adjustment to my thinking. It’s too massive a concept to grasp all at once.
You go before me and follow me.
You place your hand of blessing on my head.
Such knowledge is too wonderful for me,
too great for me to understand!
(Psalm 139:5,6 NLT)
I want to understand more. I need much better insight. How can God continue to love people who reject him and hurt each other? How can I do that when I’m disgusted by my own attitude sometimes, let alone the attitude of people who hate me for not agreeing with them? How do I love? What IS love, anyway?
This morning I pray with the cry of the Psalmist:
Let my cry come before you, O Lord;
give me understanding according to your word!
Let my plea come before you;
deliver me according to your word.
The unfolding of your words gives light;
it imparts understanding to the simple.
I open my mouth and pant,
because I long for your commandments.
Turn to me and be gracious to me,
as is your way with those who love your name.
(Psalm 119: 169, 170, 130 – 132 ESV)
I don’t understand, but You do, Lord. I trust You.
Maybe I should use a hardier paint on the bench this time. Boat paint?