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Buried

My boys are attempting to do a Bible-reading plan for their morning devotions. While  this sounds picturesque, its execution is far more harried and humorous. Usually one of them is reading the day’s Scriptures aloud while the other two are scurrying about shouting, “I can’t my water bottle, or “Where are favorite socks?”

As often happens when someone else reads a familiar Scripture aloud, I was struck with a concept I had never really pondered before. As my oldest son read the account of Moses’ last moments on earth,  I marveled at the fact that God Himself buried Moses.

A few of our dear friends have lost beloved family members recently, reminding me of both the intensity and the intimacy of burials. God, the author and authority of all life,  the One who had breathed His breath into the humans He had shaped and formed, attended and presided personally over Moses’ funeral. He knew death up close. He dug a grave in which to lay his faithful friend. What a shocking, paradoxical thought.

I imagine God responded to Moses’ death much like Jesus responded to his good buddy Lazarus’ death: with weeping and great resolve. This is not how I intended life to be, yet I intend to personally and sacrificially end death as the end.

As I meditated this week on the death of Moses, I realized that Moses’ life story was bookended by burials: one early on at a critical juncture of his life and one when God Himself buried him after years of long and faithful service.  I imagine that as God buried Moses, He did so with the death of His own self/Son on the forefront of His mind.

Buried

He had a kingdom at his fingertips,
A future of potential lay ahead;
In a moment of anger at injustice
He struck an Egyptian down dead.

Realizing what he had done,
Frantically looking left to right.
Young Moses’ dreams derailed
As he buried a corpse in fright.

Fast forward to a different burial,
A different Moses on a different hill.
One hundred plus twenty years old,
Moses finally resting in His God’s will.

From heir of  Egypt to humble man,
From served royalty to servant of God,
His undimmed eyes had finally seen
Promised land his people would trod.

Humbled, hallowed by heavy service,
Having talked with God face to face,
God Himself did bury His friend
In a secret plot, without a trace.

The one who’d buried his old life
and had given Himself to God,
Finally completed his long circuit,
No more weary steps to  plod.

‘Twas a strangely sobering scene
When Yahweh buried his friend;
For only He knew the next chapter
When His own Son’s life He’d end.

Another life marked by burial,
The One to whom Moses pointed.
Then death itself would be undone,
Just as the same God had appointed.

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The Invitation Underneath Unforgiveness

Children of God are fully forgiven the moment they surrender and receive the atoning work of Christ packaged in the gospel; however, it takes a lifetime both to comprehend such fathomless forgiveness and to become those who forgive like the Father.

Jesus fully knew the depths of our sin-sickness when He swallowed to the dregs the punishment we had earned; yet, when we walk through the threshold of forgiveness, our knowledge of our own need for forgiveness barely scratches the surface of the canyon of our need.

Smuggling Unforgiveness
Periodically, usually when I am least expecting it, God reveals knots of unforgiveness that I have unknowingly smuggled into the kingdom of God. I don’t realize that I am still carrying such places of unforgiveness until God empties my emotional pockets, so to speak, revealing hidden remnants of hurt where forgiveness has not yet been fully applied.

Initially these moments of emotional exposure shock me and send me into a desperate clean up effort that still smacks of self. However, given some time and a long walk, God begins to shift my perspective to the invitation underneath the suddenly seen knot of unforgiveness.

When I receive an invitation, whether by snail mail or evite, I am being invited to a process. I open the invitation, process the information it reveals and then prepare and wait for the party. Likewise, when God exposes a knotted, gnarled place of bitterness in my heart, He is gently inviting me to a loving and often long process with Him.

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Underneath Unforgiveness
Underneath the ugliness of my unforgiveness is usually a place of deep woundedness and real pain. Underneath that place of deep pain is usually a hidden door into more gospel depths.

Like the man forgiven his massive debt by the king, I tend to find myself stingy in meting our forgiveness to those who have hurt me or triggered me in my most vulnerable places. My stinginess is a quiet invitation to enter another layer of the depths of the forgiveness that has been offered me in Christ. Clearly I must not understand the massive debt that He has completely forgiven me if I cannot forgive someone else his or her smaller, though serious debts.

I wish I could say that this descent deeper into my own sin and His costly love was quick and painless; however, I have found it to be quite the opposite: slow and sore.

To deal with my unforgiveness means to go to my most vulnerable places. My amygdala, that exquisite memory potion of the brain responsible for processing painful memories in an effort to protect us, often works against me at this point. When this complex component to my brain is triggered by a sight, a smell, a sound, a memory, I am tempted to fight or flee. However, I know what my amygdala does not; I am not who I used to be or where I used to be.

Security in the Savior 
My Savior then gets to speak into my deep and human need for security. Rather than go the easy way out of huddling my hurt around me as a protection and insulator from further such pain, He offers me another way. He reminds me that any security built solely or even mainly on circumstances or relationships is a deeply susceptible and inherently unstable security.

He reminds me that I don’t have to shield myself with unforgiveness as a protection or bitterness as a wall of safety.  He offers Himself as my shield and invites me to a safety that cannot be shaken, no matter what shakes all around me.

As the mountains surround Jerusalem, so the Lord surrounds His people from this time forth and forevermore. Psalm 125:2. 

The Lord is my rock and my fortress and my deliverer, my God, my rock in whom I take refuge, my shield and the horn of my salvation, my stronghold and my refuge,  my savior; you save me from violence. 2 Samuel 22:2-3. 

After these things the word of the Lord came to Abram in a vision: “Fear not, Abram, I am your shield; your reward shall be very great.” Genesis 15: 1. 

I am safe and shielded in the arms of the One whom I used to raise my arms in rebellion against. He is my safety. Wrapped up more tightly into His strong arms, He will begin to unwrap and unwind the tight knots of unforgiveness that mar my heart in places of deep pain. It will be a process, but in the end, there will be quite the party to celebrate the stunning beauty of forgiveness found in Him and flowing from Him alone.

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The Fear and the Face of God

As promised, I have been studying the Proverbs looking for promises for my own fearful heart and for the hearts of my older sons as they approach the Middle School years. I haven’t gotten very far, because the Proverbs are too jam-packed with rich promises and stern warnings for a quick fly-over.

The fear of God is the stage on which the entire book of Proverbs is written and performed. Without a proper understanding of the fear of the Lord, the book will read as an ancient self-help book. As such, I have begun praying where the book begins: the fear of the Lord.

The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom; fools despise wisdom and instruction. Proverbs 1:7. 

My son, if you receive my words and treasure up my commandments with you, making your ear attentive to wisdom and inclining your heart to understanding…then you will understand the fear of the Lord and find the knowledge of God. Proverbs 2: 1-2 & 5. 

All wisdom begins with our all-wise, uncreated, all-powerful God. And all wisdom ultimately leads us back to Christ, in whom are hidden all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge (Colossians 2:3).

Derek Kidner wisely states, “In submission to His authority and majesty (that is, in the fear of the Lord), we alone start and continue our education…He is the beginning; He is also the end.”

After studying the first two chapters of the Proverbs, my prayer request for the boys hearts and my own heart is the same: that we would live in the fear of God before the face of God. 

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The Fear of God

Even if we were to replace the word fear with a more full translation of reverential awe, such a phrase would still likely fall on deaf ears because both are so little understood or practiced in our culture today.

Sinclair Ferguson made a helpful distinction between two types of fear: servile fear and filial fear. The word servile comes from the Latin word meaning slave, while filial comes from the Latin word meaning son. Ferguson speaks of the proper Christian fear of God as the latter, defining it as, “that indefinable mixture of reverence, fear, pleasure, joy and awe which fills our hearts when we realize who God is and what He has done for us.”

Such a filial fear of God must begin by scratching the surface of the vastness and otherness of our God. The Incarnation of Christ means less to us when we don’t first understand that the God who walked on earth is also the God holds all the oceans in the hollow of His hand. The baby who was found by the Magi under guidance of a single star was the one who calls out every star one by one and knows each by name.  Isaiah 40. Psalm 104. Job 38-39.  We won’t appreciate how small He became until we have as the backdrop the vast, incomprehensible God who spoke all things into being with a simple word.

My children have become increasingly adept at swimming since we live in a land so near the water and so sunny almost year-round. They have been known to brazenly cannonball into hot tubs and plummet into pools; however, when they stand before the enormity of the ocean, they experience healthy fear.

My prayer for them is that they would experience a similar adoring fear before the hugeness of our God who willingly humbled himself to become a servant (Philippians 2).

The Face of God

With the fear of God as the foundation underneath them, it is my prayer that they would live their lives in a conscious awareness that they are also living underneath the gaze of God.

Coram Deo is a Latin phrase that is translated, “in the presence or before the face of God.” The phrase captures the Christian idea that all of life is to be lived under the gaze and authority of, in the presence of, and to the glory of God.

This short and succinct phrase, when really pondered and applied, has long and lasting implications on the way we live our lives. While the writer of Proverbs doesn’t explicitly use this phrase, the idea it conveys is a major thread woven throughout the backdrop of the entire book.

God goes with my boys into the classrooms and locker rooms when I don’t. He sees all that I don’t see. It is before His watchful eye that I want my children to learn to live, not simply under mine.

For the eyes of the Lord run to and fro throughout the whole earth to give strong support to those whose heart is blameless toward Him. 2 Chronicles 16:9. 

I long for and, therefore, I will labor in prayer to the end that, my three sons will live in the fear of God before the face of God.

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On Puberty and Purity: A Fearful Mom Praying Through the Proverbs

If you have seen the Pixar movie Inside Out, you likely remember the moment at the end when Joy, Anger, Sadness and the rest of the gang finally get everything in order. The happy ending is neatly tied up with a bow when one of the characters sees a huge red button on the control panel captioned “Puberty.” Reaching out in curiosity to push it, the others scream to try to stop the disaster!

I feel like my heart is right there these days. We have weathered the early years of raising three little boys. To my great delight, we found God to be faithful through both the happiness and the heaviness of the early elementary years. Having been raised in a family of all girls, the thought of raising boys was daunting to me from the ultrasounds that revealed boy hardware so many years ago; however, over a decade into raising the three men-in-training that the Lord has entrusted to my husband and I, we are convinced that the Lord will, as He has promised, give us all that we need for life and godliness.

My biology predisposes me to anxiety, and my sin exacerbates and exaggerates my hard-wiring. As such, I tend to deal with fear and worry by studying and pre-emptive planning. Before we had our first son, I read twenty books in an effort to curb the rising tide of anxiety of the unknown. After an intervention by my very wise husband who sagely said, “If you read one more book, I am going to burn them all,” I traded the pregnancy books for more time in the Word of God.

As we find ourselves on the precipice of the puberty, I feel similar waves of fear, anticipation, hopefulness and anxiety. I am tempted to pitch a tent in Barnes & Noble for a month and read every neurological, physiological, emotional and spiritual book every written on boys and puberty. However, I want to learn from my pre-delivery anxiety.

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Rather than start by combing the bookshop and filling my Amazon cart, I want to start right here, in my own soul. I want to start by combing the Word of God for promises to claim both for them and for my own maternal heart as we enter the uncharted territory of the teen years. I am certain that I will read a book or two, especially those recommended by the mentors who have already passed through the dangerous passes of puberty. But I want to begin by anchoring my heart and this upcoming decade in the sure promises of God.

It is my prayer that this upcoming series of blog posts will be a strange mixture of humor, theology, practice and biology. If nothing else, the hours spent in study and prayer will assuage my anxiety by meeting my restless heart with the sure Word of the Heavenly Father. After all, He is One who knows everything there is to know about not only about the human brain, masculinity, and puberty, but also about the soul of a mother and the souls of her sons.

There is no better place to pray through puberty than the Proverbs. As Derek Kidner writes,  the book of Proverbs “is not a portrait album or a book of manners: it offers a key to life.”

Tim Keller once said that studying Proverbs is like sucking on a hard candy. It takes time to enjoy its flavor and to get to the heart of it. The God-centered wisdom laced in the book of Proverbs, which was written as parental words of wisdom to be passed on to a son, is not easily attained; however, there are riches there for those who are willing to linger awhile.

“The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom, and the knowledge of the Holy One is insight.” Proverbs 9:10.

To that end, we will begin at the fountainhead by praying that our children would fear Lord.  In the next post, we will dig into a biblical view of fearing the Lord and ways to cultivate such fear, so far as it concerns us.

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The Blessing of Being Small

 

My husband and I are minnows in a tiny puddle. But because the puddles we frequent are small, it is easy to begin to feel like important guppies in our family and the local flock. Every once in a while, the Lord lovingly places us into a larger pond for a day or two. And every time, I walk away blessed by reminding of our smallness.

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While speaking at a conference this past week and sitting at tables with people with multiple degrees and dissertations under their belts,  I initially felt puny and a little pathetic; however, after the initial waves of insecurity, I was able to receive the gift of smallness with great joy and freedom.

John the Baptist, the eccentric and electrifying prophet who cleared the path for his Chosen cousin, Jesus,  famously prayed, “He must increase,  but I must decrease.”  (John 3:30). 

As believers, we love to throw out that pithy, catchy statement; but we deeply struggle to live it.

John had spent the majority of his life in anonymity in the dessert. However, when the time came, he fulfilled the purpose for which he was miraculously born to his aged parents, Zechariah and Elizabeth. He came boldly inviting the Jewish people to a priming baptism of water signifying their need for repentance and washing which would be brought with Christ.

After 400 years of inter-testimental silence, the people were finally postured to hear any word for the Lord, no matter how harsh or humbling. As such, people came in droves to be baptized in the Jordan. John gathered around himself an eager group of young disciples who joined him in his preparatory work.

One day, his cousin came to be baptized in the waters of the Jordan. As soon as John saw Jesus coming,  he was quick to point to Christ and away from himself and his thriving ministry. “Behold, the Lamb of God, who. takes away the sin of the world. This is he of whom I said, ‘After me comes a man whose rank is before me’.” (John 1:29-30). 

After a moving and momentous baptism in which the sky opened and the voice of God proudly commended His son,  Jesus began to move into public ministry mode.

Some time later,  after having officially called together his strange assortment of disciples, performed his first miracle at the wedding at Cana and spoken in secret to Nicodemus by night, Jesus and his crew head out into the Judean countryside. It just so  happens that his cousin John is performing water baptisms there. because water was plentiful there (John. 3:22-23).

From a first reading, the scene reads like a scene from West Side Story. Two crews doing similar work finding themselves on the same turf. The suspense would be building for a first time reader. Are we about to see a showdown? A ministry battle?

The young, immature,  mostly headstrong and ego-heavy disciples were feeling the tension. John goes out of his way to record what takes place.

Now a discussion  arose between some of John’s disciples and a Jew over purification. And they came to John and said to him,  “Rabbi, he who was with you across the Jordan., to whom you bore witness – look, he is baptizing and all are going to him.” John 3:26. 

How would John respond to the minimizing of his ministry, to being shown to be a small fish in the presence of the One who had spoken into existence every fish species?

John received the right-sizing and minimizing of his small but significant ministry not as a burden or a punishment, but as a long-awaited joy and a welcomed blessing.

Then who has the bride is the bridegroom. The friend of the bridegroom, who stands and hears him, rejoices greatly at the bridegroom’s voice. Therefore, this joy of mine is now complete. He must decrease, but I must increase. John. 3:29-30. 

I tend to imagine John saying that pithy prayer in a saddened sigh, but the context reads differently.  Rather than issuing forth from a resigned, depleted spirit, John’s “I must decrease” prayer welled up from a fullness of joy and completion.

I don’t have to decrease. I get to decrease!

This past weekend, I felt a little of what John felt: the blessing of being small in the presence of the Infinite One made Finite!

 

 

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Atrophied Awe

Muscles and skills continually unused begin to atrophy and weaken. While I know this personally from experience as someone who used to run rigorously and now walks leisurely, I also see it happening on a cultural level with our capacity for awe.

Awe, officially defined, is a feeling of reverential respect mixed with fear and wonder.

I saw aspects of awe when my boys and I got to help raise a little baby Mockingbird who tumbled tragically from his nest. Their senses delighted in the bird’s tiny beak, powerful wings and downy feathers.

I saw other aspects of awe when I took my boys who have read the entire Harry Potter series multiple times to Universal this summer. They literally had chins that were dropped and nearly drooling as they ran through the stores and cities of the books. While I did not appreciate the cost of Butter Beer, their sweet, shocked smiles were well worth the exorbitant price. IMG_2881

However, true awe is increasingly hard to come by. Our awe muscles are atrophying, partly because we live in a comfortable, highly indulgent and gadget-glad society, and partly because we have lost the foundation of the fear of God.

Moving at the speed of sound, we don’t have time to notice the wonders of creation all around us, from the ant brigade on our driveway to the soaring hawks circling above us as we sit in traffic, rushing to the next thing. While awe at creation is incomplete, it is an initial and often necessary step towards the apex of awe which is awe at the Creator behind His creation.

With withering abilities wonder and atrophied awe,  we experience aching emptiness. This emptiness, meant to alert us to the void and point us to the void filler, often simply leads us deeper into the frantic cycle of consumption. The gnawing emptinessP we experience is meant to painstakingly point us to contemplation and our Creator; however, more often than not, the realization of emptiness and boredom tends to propel us to work harder, eat more, buy more trinkets and travel farther.

In his book The Shattered Lantern, Ronald Rolheiser powerfully ties the modern lack of awe and wonder to our lack of contemplation.

“People no longer expect to discover dimensions of reality beyond the empirically evident… we no longer see spirit lurking  within matter, nor the natural world camouflaging the supernatural.”

How are we to stretch our sedentary awe muscles? How can we begin to recover a child-like wonder at the world around us? How are we to relearn how to stalk the hidden spiritual world that hides behind our natural reality?

We have to slow down enough to see.  We have to pull on the thin threads of visible wonder and follow them back to the invisible, only wise God who left us treasure trails everywhere to lead us back to Himself.

To stretch and strengthen muscles for wonder at special revelation (what God reveals through Scripture and His Son), we can begin with general revelation (what. God reveals through His creation),  following David’s pattern in Psalm 19.

The heavens declare the glory of God, and the sky above proclaims his handiwork.  Day to day pours out speech,  and night to night reveals knowledge…Their voice goes out through all the earth, and their words to the end of the world. In them he has set a tent for the sun, which comes out like a bride-groom leaving his chamber,  and like a strong man,  runs its course with joy.  Psalm 19:1-2 & 4-5. 

Having warmed up his wonder muscles with physical realities, David proceeds to practice wonder at spiritual realities.

The law of the Lord is perfect, reviving the soul; the testimony of the Lord is sure,  making wise the simple; the precepts of the Lord are right, rejoicing the heart; the commandment of the Lord is pure, enlightening the eyes; the fear of the Lord is clean, enduring forever; the rules of the Lord are true, and righteous altogether. Psalm 19: 7-9. 

Today,  engage your awe muscles at the visible world.  Then, follow the sunbeam back up  to the sun, the character of the God who created such wonders.

For with Him, wonders never cease and awe is ever-increasing. We would do well to strengthen our awe muscles during our short stay on earth, for we will need them in eternity!

 

 

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Gospel Resiliency

PACE. Plays after critical errors.

Owing to the fact that I am the only female in my entire household, I have learned far more about sports than I ever imagined I would. Most of the time, the sports facts I hear go in one ear and come right out the other; however, every once in a while, a sports fact gets laced into the way I think.

One of the determining factors for the strength and maturity of a team is a study of their response to critical errors such as turnovers, interceptions or own goals. As such, the play following critical errors is often more significant than the play in which the error occurred.

If, after a perceived failure, the team is able to regroup and move forward, they are considered mature and resilient.

I have a strong propensity to perfectionism that the Lord has been chipping away since He grabbed me up and drew me from the domain of darkness and into the light of the kingdom of His Son.  I see it being played out in my oldest son who is a chip off the old perfectionist block. One small mistake, a missed math problem or a grade less than a sliver less than superlative for him, an erroneous email or a sub-par Bible study for me, and we begin to crumble. Our shoulders droop, our hearts sag, and we are tempted to paint the rest of the day in dark colors. I know it sounds dramatic, but this is the reality of a recovering perfectionist.

Then the Lord reminds me that He is growing my gospel resiliency, little failure by little failure, miscommunication by miscommunication, miss by miss.

I am slowly learning to measure my spiritual maturity not on perfection and performance but on my response to failure.

Am I quicker to remember that I am loved no matter the scoreboard? Is my heart drawn closer to the Father who loves me even in my mistakes? Am I more able to bounce back and continue through the rest of day under His unalterable approval?

King David grew in his gospel resiliency after his epic failure with Bathsheba. Although it took him many months and a clever conversation with a concerned Nathan to own his sin, when he did, he repented into the arms of a redeeming God. Even though he had no grounds for such bold confidence that a just God would be merciful through the Cross, he failed forward into a gracious God.

Purge me with hyssop and I shall be clean; wash me, and I shall be whiter than snow. Let me hear joy and gladness; let the bones that you have broken rejoice. Hide your face from my sins, and blot out all my iniquities. Create in me a clean heart, O God, and renew a right spirit within me. Psalm 51: 7-10. 

By God’s grace operating in my life, I am often quick to know my sin and to name it; however, I am much slower at being confidently restored to my Redeemer. I tend to make my mishaps, my missteps and mistakes large in my own my mind and heart. My slowness to receive forgiveness is rooted in an underestimating of the size of the Cross and the sure-footing it gives us in our failures. I think my failures larger than the Cross, which goes to show how little I understand the enormity of the Cross.

In those moments, God slows me down and reminds me that He is growing my gospel resiliency, my ability to see myself and the Cross in more healthy proportions.

May we become people who fail forward and keep PACE with the Spirit within us.

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Echoes

Our love for God and others is but an echo of God’s resounding love for us. When our love seems to be waning, there is a good chance that we have not positioned ourselves in place to hear the sound waves of His love well.

I attended a small, private liberal arts college in the Southeast. Our campus was quaint, boasting a tiny puddle of a pond by the theater building. Supposedly the architect who made the building also created this one spot in the theater courtyard where if you stood at just the right place you could create an echo. I tried time after time with friends, usually as a procrastination method or a way to assuage early evening boredom.  I never did find the sweet spot, leading me to the conclusion that either the whole thing was a myth or I was spatially challenged.

While studying Paul’s first letter written to a young church in Thessalonica this week, a phrase by MacLaren, one of my favorite commentators, reminded me of my sad attempts to find the right spot to hear the echo.

“My love is the reverberation of the primeval voice, the echo of God’s…So my love answers God’s love, and it will never answer it unless faith has brought me within the auditorium, the circle wherein the voice that proclaims ‘I love thee, my child,’ can be heard.” 

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The Cross of Christ is the best place, the sweetest spot, to hear most clearly God’s resounding, reverberating love for us. When we earnestly at the foot of the Cross, whether in brokenness, in neediness or in guiltiness, the sound waves of His costly love spill all around us.

I wish that I could say that my soul is daily filled with the sounds waves of His love; however, practically speaking, I do not often find my soul eagerly listening at the Cross. As hard as it is to admit, I more readily find myself at the hills of performance, listening for the spotty sound waves of human love, than positioned permanently at the hill of Golgotha.

I cannot echo what I do not first hear and receive. As such, over time, my love for God and others weakens until it is becomes nearly inaudible.  Rather than being a loud trumpet of the good news, I become an empty vessel, desperate for words of love and life.

Recognizing my emptiness, I find myself back at the place of the Cross where His love screams most loudly.

The sounds waves of His love penetrate far more deeply than the even the deepest frequencies of human love. I have a desperate need to visit my echo spot more often, to linger there longer.

May we hear His love so loudly that our echoes of that love might more fill an empty world.

 

 

 

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To A Pensive Pencil

Mother Theresa fascinates me. As such, I have read just about everything she has written or that has been written about her.

“I am a little pencil in God’s hands. He does the thinking. He does the writing. He does everything and sometimes it is really hard because it is a broken pencil and He has to sharpen it a little more.”

I love her love and simplicity. I love her trust in God and her desire to rest in His strong, sure hands.

If my soul is a pencil, it is often a frantic, worried one attempting to draw my own picture or sharpen myself. This week I have found my soul wrestling to be a resting and ready pencil.

To a Pensive Pencil

Oh, pensive little pencil,
Stay poised in my hand.
It is not for you to know
All that I have planned.

Your primary job is to stay
Enfolded in my clasp.
I will not give you the
Control for which you grasp.

For I alone know full well
The beautiful works ahead.
’Tis mine to do the leading,
’Tis yours to be gently led. 

My strong and sturdy hands
Will expertly draw each line.
Your weak and wavering will
Must be enfolded into mine. 

So, rest now, pensive pencil.
You must learn to be still.
For only when you trust me,
Can we fully do my will. 

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Consummate Creators

There are two new highlights to my weekday routine: my kindergartner’s proud smile when I drop him off at carline and his relieved and his even more proud smile when I pick him up at his classroom door.

He bounds out of there with the pride akin to that of the first men who walked on the moon. When I ask him about his day, he alludes to the beautiful treasures in his red pocket folder, but he absolutely will not let me peruse them until we are at home.

Then, like a jeweler bringing forth a twenty karat diamond, he presents his red folder to me, fully expecting the same pomp on my end.

He opens the folder and lays out each worksheet or well-thought out drawing or craft from his centers. The smile I thought could not grow any larger swells yet again as I enjoy his creations.

I am not allowed to throw anything away. He has a special place he is keeping any and every piece of paper from school. They are all treasures to him.

Children are consummate creators. Left alone on a Saturday morning, all three of my boys end up creating something or an entire species of somethings. Just yesterday, my middle child spent 2 hours creating a Lego set for a Stop Motion video he plans to create today. While he was gathering pieces for his homemade Hollywood, our oldest son was creating a semi-scary, semi-hysterical Lego skeleton scene in which skeletons where emerging from the ground wielding weapons like ketchup bottles and hotdogs.

While the work station required for such creativity (read: a bedroom floor laden with legos for hours on end) hurts both my feet and my feeling of my control, there is something so right about the intricate and intentional hours they spend creating.

In a culture marked and measured by consumption, children are quietly but consistently inviting us back to the wonder of creating. It really is not the end product that they adore, though they take great pride in their work; rather, it is the process of imaging God by joining Him in His joy in creating that produces lasting joy.

In a week, the Stop Motion video will be replaced by a different scene and the tree scribbling will be forgotten, but the process of creating will leave an indelible mark on them.

Their ability to spend hours working toward the desired end they have in mind and their great delight in explaining every minuscule detail and design have given me a window into the heart of God regarding the creative process.

They deeply desire for me to take time to see, to really see and savor, the efforts they have put into their creation. They want me to comment and complement and commend them, as they rightly should.

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When I look at them delighting in my excited examination, I see my own deep desires to have God see and notice and know the things that I take great delight in creating. Even if my efforts will never make it into a book or an exhibit or magazine, even if they are mediocre at best, God delights in my delight at doing what I was made to do as His image-bearer.

I find myself imagining God having a colossal city closets full of half-hatched ideas, silly sketches, cobbled creations made by His most beloved creations…us.  I imagine He remembers each of our novice attempts at joining Him in creating with the same nostalgic joy I feel when going through the boy’s old artwork.

Perhaps when He said we ought to become like little children, Jesus, at least partly, invited us to mimic children’s joy in being consummate creators.

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