Sunday, March 13, 2011

His Favor, More Than Enough

"How do you enjoy God most?" she asks us, as we sit in a circle one night talking about him.

Easy. I enjoy him in his nature, his manifest beauty all around, peace swirling through the tops of trees and the sound of waves lulling my mind to rest. Faraway bird songs and warmth of sunlight. Gliding through magical crisp hollows, where if I stop, I almost expect a wild animal to speak to me in words or to meet an old woman who lives in a tree...

Alone with him, in his manifest glory, almost anything is possible. We talk. We laugh. We cry. His embrace becomes the breeze and his whisper becomes a hoof.

My heart longs for that God-favor. I have sometimes found it in the north woods.

We do not travel there, and I need new pants but I dare not travel as far as the mall. Rest is what the body needs to recover and to care for little one and so we wait, patiently, for the next remission.

It is a long wait.

Big man and little man head to church, and I rest. But restless, I pray. And it's right here in my captivity that he meets me and he brings me quietly to Joseph's.
"...his brothers... sold him... to the Ishmaelites... [then] the Midianites sold Joseph in Egypt to Potiphar, one of Pharaoh's officials, the captain of the guard... The LORD was with Joseph so that he prospered, and he lived in the house of his Egyptian master. When his master saw that the LORD was with him and that the LORD gave him success in everything he did, Joseph found favor in his eyes... the LORD blessed the household of the Egyptian because of Joseph" (The Story, 24-25).
Even in slavery, a man had favor with God.
"Joseph's master took him and put him in prison, the place where the king's prisoners were confined. But while Joseph was there in the prison, the LORD was with him; he showed him kindness and granted him favor in the eyes of the prison warden... the LORD was with Joseph and gave him success in whatever he did" (The Story, 25).
Even in prison, a man had favor with God. God chooses, and God favors... even in prison.

So thankful today that my life is not my own. My life has been chosen, and favored. It belongs to him who orchestrates the worlds, him who offers joy at all times, in all places. Him who made it possible by shedding his own blood so I could have this joy that transcends all understanding, this peace that guards heart and mind.

My family will be in the north woods for Easter.

But here in my captivity, I open my hands and receive my tailor-made joy, made special for this moment. God's favor here, because he chose me and I am his. I stand on this and I claim it and I bask in it and no weapon formed against me shall prosper.

All this made possible by Jesus Christ, who makes it all possible.

I sing it:
(ATTENTION: This video contains images of Jesus on the cross. You may not want to watch it with small children around.)

By the time little one is dropped into my care, I am weak, the pain is stronger, and I can't sing. The Grace-God knows and he cares and he gives us favor, and out of the quiet he miraculously puts the song into my little boy's voice and I hear it strong and loud while I try to fix his lunch:

"Pwaise a Wam! Pwaise a Wam! Pwaise a Waaaaaaaaaaam!"

Another favor. I receive with thanks. Joy prevails.
"Joyful, joyful, we adore Thee,
God of glory, Lord of love;
Hearts unfold like flow’rs before Thee,
Op’ning to the sun above.
Melt the clouds of sin and sadness;
Drive the dark of doubt away;
Giver of immortal gladness,
Fill us with the light of day!"

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

A Wife's Resolve

The boy grew up throwing balls and telling jokes, somebody's little brother. Always looking up to terrific parents and older siblings and church leaders. He grew into a big, strong man with a great big heart. But though he grew tall, no one seemed to notice.

With a smile he worked as unto the Lord each day, just as he had been taught, never giving a thought to what anyone might owe him. He shrugged and the smile broadened and the front door was open to all. He was friends with the outcast and the thief who stole their wedding money and the suicidal boy and the guys in jail and anyone who laughed at him, and it was no big deal. 

The man who seemed like a boy was married to a girl who seemed like a woman and when the baby was coming they decided to look for more salary. They bought new shoes and a tie and although he still made time for anyone with a need, he was often left waiting. And they all smiled together because God had a great plan for the boy.

He loved everyone, no matter what, and the devil was strong but he was always so much stronger. And no one knew. They thought he was just a boy. 

Most of the time, that's what the man thought too.

The world does not take seriously such a humble smile of grace.

Neither do I understand this forgiving kind of heart, blindly trampled and still beating with unconditional love.

But I see how they don't come to the parties he hosts each week and how he waits long hours for unreturned phone calls and how he works and smiles until he sleeps. I know how he stays around until midnight to listen and listen and listen to the bleeding teenager who just needs to talk and how a man wearing a skirt waits on the corner each morning to share life with him. Even though no one else understands how he could be content in such a menial job, I know about the instant gratification of delivering letters and magazines and packages and the thanks of the slower workers for helping them out too. 

He is underdressed and mincing words, and I see them all poking him in the ribs, patting him on the head. I see them taking for granted the muscle, the effort, the unparalleled humility and wisdom. And I want to tell them exactly how they are holding back potential and how he just might believe this too if they would take him seriously.

All we are told becomes our identity.  

My finger is pointing all around, at him, at each one who walks on his heart and doesn't know, and I look down and see it. Those other three fingers, they point right back at my own unbelieving heart.

Memories flash from just yesterday...

"What were you thinking?"

"Do you realize what you just said?"

"Pick that up."

"You can't do it that way!"

The finger falls, a decision floods my veins. 

I know the man. Maybe I even know him best. If only in this house, in this heart: He is a king. And I intend to be the first to start treating him that way.