Thursday, November 30, 2017
When we are faced with a suicide of someone we love, we encounter circumstances that ask us to make new sense of a principle we thought we understood, that it is not within God's will to determine our own end, that our death is God's province and God's alone. But it's not that simple.
This is what I read this morning from the book of Judges:
Samson was, as you know, a consecrated Nazarite from birth. His life was dedicated to God. And he lived with his family among their enemies, the Philistines, godless people with whom the Israelites were not to mix. However, "Samson went down to Timnah, and at Timnah he saw one of the daughters of the Philistines. Then he came up and told his father and mother, 'I saw one of the daughters of the Philistines at Timnah. Now get her for me as wife.' But his father and mother said to him, 'Is there not a woman among the daughters of your relatives, or among all our people, that you must go to take a wife from the uncircumcised Philistines?' But Samson said to his father, 'Get her for me, for she is right in my eyes.'".
Now here's the important part:
"But his father and mother did not know that it was from the Lord, for He was seeking an opportunity against the Philistines."
One sentence. One sentence in that whole story. God prompted Samson to do something forbidden for a reason that only He could understand. Samson didn't understand what was going on. Neither did his parents or anyone else. But God did.
How many times are we cautioned that we do not know the mind of God? Dozens. They didn't then. We don't now.
As far as I'm concerned, we can only do the best we can with the circumstances we are given. But it is only God who is all-knowing, God who is sovereign. We do not, cannot, know what He is doing from first to last.
We say we cannot judge a man's motives, only his action. But we need to remember, too, that God uses even actions that look wrong to us for His own ends. If we trust Him, we have to give Him room to work and not too harshly judge those who, hidden to us, He may have chosen to help Him. .
Sunday, November 12, 2017
Talk about feeling vulnerable.
I'm 1800 miles from home and there are no landmarks, nothing familiar to look at and say, "Oh, yes... I know that intersection, that gas station, that tree." And it's dark. And raining. Almost midnight. And my phone has died. And I have to find my way back to where I started.
Now, if one is going to get lost, the mountains east of Seattle is the place to do it. Rough, quaint, and remote, it's a beautiful part of this world. And wandering is sometimes fun. But not so much last night.
After spending a delightful evening with someone very special who lives in this lovely region, and getting ready to make my way back to the friends hosting me here, I found that my phone, by whose GPS I made my way up here, had only 8% left on the battery, not nearly enough to guide me through the twisty mountain passes for the hour it would take me to get back. After a moment of short panic, my hosts did the most reasonable thing possible--they printed out Googlemap directions and, armed with two sheets of paper, no GPS, and no phone, I set out on my way.
My first problem was how to drive and read the map at the same time. It was dark, after all, and I kept hearing that little voice that always told me never to drive with the car's interior lights on. Well, that was out the question tonight. I clicked on the light. Well, well. I could see--not only the map but the road ahead. So far, so good. And I started driving.
While I was still in North Bend, it was pretty easy. I remembered the first turns from when I'd just taken them a few hours before....424th Street, Cedar Falls Way, North Bend Boulevard, Railroad Avenue. But then came the traffic circles and the roads I hadn't paid much attention to earlier because then, I'd had my graphic display. I had no graphics now, though, and had to find highway 202. I did. Whew.
Then I was supposed to turn on Ames Lake Rd. There it was, sign looming up suddenly in the dark. I took a hard right. No time for turn signals and no one to witness them anyway. Then a left onto Snoqualmie Valley Rd., another out-of-nowhere turn. I didn't see it until I'd gone past. U-turn and another right. The next turn was listed to be Woodinville Duvall Rd. Ok. There was the sign to Duvall, but no indication of Woodinville anywhere. Do I turn? Something said not. I drove straight by, instinct telling me that what I wanted was somewhere up ahead. Again, illuminated suddenly and for only a moment, the sign for Woodinville Duvall Rd. Another right. After that, it was easy. That final turn took me right back. Back to Kelsey Rd., which I knew, and after three more quick turns, back to the house.
Then I had time to think. There's a point to all this. There's always a point.
God brought me to this place, where I have friends but no roots, no frames of reference, and withdrew all my crutches. Lean on me, He said. You have no one else.
But He gave me three tools.
He gave me written directions.
And He gave me light to see them by.
I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will not walk in darkness, but have the light of life. --John 8:12.
And He gave me His voice in my ear, His prompting to fill in the blanks.
Whether you turn to the right or turn to the left, you will hear a voice behind you saying, "This is the way. Walk in it."--Isaiah 30:21.
And I made it home. And after coming in the door, and dropping on my bed with a sigh, I finally got the message.
Far more confusing sometimes than the road to Snoqualmie and North Bend is life's road. My widowhood has left me a seeming orphan, lost and searching for a hand to guide me to the right path, but God doesn't do that. He hasn't left me groping. He gave me the tools. His Word, His Son, and His voice. If I use them, I will always make it home.
Tuesday, October 3, 2017
When I brought you home, the apples still lay in bud and you were all crowned in bloom, a mat of color and life—purple and white and yellow so dense, I couldn’t see their bottom. You spoke bright summer over me then, fragrant and fertile, an easy, intimate beauty.
When I looked today, while apples, fully ripe, lay browning beneath the trees, half your blooms had withered and turned brown, shriveled without permission, exposing leaf and stem. I pulled off the withered flowers, the brown and dead, and there, just underneath, lay new buds, tight and closed. Sparser than the first, but firm. Small, but reaching for light.
I cleared the way for them, recalling the beauty of their forbears, putting to rest what was spent letting life have its way. Making room for promise.
Monday, September 4, 2017
Taken one at the time, or in small bunches, they are a rollercoaster of changes in mind and mood, but taken together, their landscape smooths into a cohesive, intentional whole. The best part of the book comes at the end, then, when retrospect has distilled them down to lessons in trust and care.
I am so grateful.
The Last Thread is available on Amazon.com as ebook and in print.
Here's the link
Read this morning about a couple married 75 years who died within hours in each others’ arms. Of course, if this were normal, it wouldn’t make the news, but I am feeling so completely different, like I have no idea how to love.
I am obedient, trying to keep the promise of my marriage vows (for a change), but sinking deeper with each day, or feeling like it.
The other day, it came to me that no wonder Dave says so often that he’s happy—he finally has the wife he always wanted, one who stays at home with no other job and spends all her days centered on him. And I resent it. I do. But then I listen to him cough and groan and witness again the grace with which he endures.
Is it a privilege to serve him? In the abstract, yes. But I feel stuck at the same time, not wanting to go forward, not wanting to go back, not wanting to stay here. And knowing it doesn’t matter what I want.
I need to focus somewhere else at least part of the time. If I let it, Dave’s illness will take over both our lives and take us down together. I am not sick, though, and I have to figure out how to help him without living his life. I’m not doing very well.
Gospel for today: New wine does not go in old wineskins.
So, God, is this how you make me new?
I am small and you are big.
Is this what it’s like to learn love and compassion? I have been a barren rock, a dry husk. Is this how I am renewed?
Image: A Little Bit Crunchy A Little Bit Rock and Roll
Thursday, August 31, 2017
Have not been sleeping well—I fall into bed deeply tired, but too soon wake up dull and not rested. It’s hard to go back to sleep. Feel heavy from thick, troubling dreams I can’t specifically remember but whose dark mood lingers.
I look for God to lift me, but keep finding the urge to repent instead. That, and a reminder to recall His prior blessings. He is the same God now as He was before, after all. These days just feel dark.
Tuesday, August 29, 2017
Restless and tense two nights running. Afraid of the future.
Dave starting another round of physical rehab next week, and talking to Zach and Jeremy about remodeling the bathroom in five or six months. Will he be alive in 6 months? Will he be able to use the downstairs bathroom at all during the construction? Even listening to Bryan’s fitful sleep, his snoring, scares me. Anyone visiting, even family, outside our accustomed circle unnerves me.
I want it to be over. I don’t want it to be over.
Dave’s sister Audrey, after having lost her own husband, looks so worn. Tired of coping. What wore her out? What came before or today’s grief? Probably both. And I’ve started planning for what comes after already. Is that wrong? I hope not. I do know that it sometimes settles me a little. I just don’t want to have to face it all later, afterward.
But I don’t have to figure it all out today. I can have a short term plan too—like making breakfast, painting the new pantry door, and watching the Packers tonight. It’s doable. Maybe I’ll try to nap.
And I have to trust God for everything else.