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Month: June, 2012

Fragments + Fullness.

Have you ever watched an artist, crafting their piece, from the moment the pigment first soaks the canvas? I freely admit that I am always the artist’s skeptic, quick to assume there’s no real picture that could come from those disproportionate shapes; or if there is, it certainly won’t be any good.  My eyes are always too far behind the image the illustrator has dreamed up, and it is such a dizzying moment when a shape turns out not to be haphazard squiggles after all, but a vision come to life.

So much of life is spent just before the pictures make any sort of sense, and all of it is spent before any work is fully completed.  For we wait for the Complete, in Whom everything finds its place, and all are put back together.

“For now, we can only see a dim and blurry picture of things, as when we stare into polished metal. I realize that everything I know is only part of the big picture.”

There are fragments all around me.  We all have been waiting, yearning for completion.  And today we see just this piece.  Fragmented joy in one story, fragmented sorrow in another.  All of creation groans and yearns for its Creator to put it all back together.

We crowd around a table for four, all 7 of us, with our topping-covered frozen yogurt the feast we use for celebration.  Sweet little Nay will have his last day of radiation tomorrow.  We have waited and groaned for so long.  When he went through his first round of chemo, we waited and groaned.  When the surgery was only 40% successful and the tumor was still there, growing, threatening, we waited and groaned.  When doctors shook their heads, when statistics were terrifying, when he was so sick… And in our waiting and groaning, the Lord God sent His Spirit to be with us.  Amen.  In great mercy the Spirit moved not only to be with us, but also to bring a physical miracle – total removal of the tumor in the third surgery.  So much joy.  And yet we still waited.  With chocolate on our lips we smiled and cheered and even shared our joy with the room of strangers.  Great joy, and yet we will still wait for all to be made complete in Him.

Other fragmented stories grip my heart and ache in my bones.  A community I love loses their dear friend suddenly.  Others whom I love deeply, wait and long and yearn for fragments to make any kind of sense.

“But one day, when Jesus arrives, we will see clearly, face-to-face. In that day, I will fully know just as I have been wholly known by God.”

So here we are, this Body, waiting and yearning, groaning, weeping, laughing, praying.  Asking for eyes that can see more than these fragments.  And our stories will not be complete just yet but we will find He who is Completion.   And in this long meanwhile the Spirit is here, God with us, groaning with us.

“But for right now, until that completeness, we have three things to do to lead us toward that consummation: Trust steadily in God, hope unswervingly, love extravagantly. And the best of the three is love.”

So may we trust, may we hope, may we love, brothers and sisters, and may the Spirit of God in us and among us bring us to wholeness.

Passages from 1 Corinthians 13, the Voice & the Message

Thunder and Grace.

Well, it took me until nearly midnight, but I finally got it.

As Bug snuggled me close, hearing the drumming of the thunder, I whispered truth to him.  “God made the lightning.  We don’t need to be scared, because He made it.”  And then I saw this day of non-stop, all hands on deck parenting and relational serving as what it always was – a gift.  A pure and perfect gift.

I humbly, fully admit that this attitude did not dawn this morning.  You (mothers) know those kind of days where you feel rushed from beckoning to beckoning, it’s non-stop from diapers to meals (to another diaper?) to being called upon to give praise, advice, listen… And the Ugly says, “But when will it be my time?  Who is looking out for me?”  And all the while He is, and all the while my time has by grace been gloriously turned into something far more precious.  Even when I try to stop and build my own kingdom, another story calls, another Kingdom is built.  Because the Spirit is working.

Yes, the Spirit of God inhabits even this humble home.  He uses even the words of this clumsy speaker to tell a broken teenager who she is and how deeply her Father loves her.  He feeds us even when I tire of cooking, of dishes, and whine about these gifts freely given to me.  He makes these little children of mine grow, causes those two adorable feet to take their early steps from his new sisters to his Mama, even when I have done nothing to deserve this blessed milestone.  What joy that my sin does not stop the work of the Spirit.  And what humility that the Spirit gently calls me out of my sin and opens my heart to see the gifts all around me.

I’ll admit, I wasn’t entirely excited when 3-year old Bug awoke at 11pm to nightmares, unable to go back to sleep because of his fear of the thunder.  But something stopped the lies, lies that would say “Just make him go right back to sleep so you can have time – your first moment – all to yourself.”  Truth whispered instead.  Teach him now.  Here in his fear, Who calms the storm?

So we read of Jesus calming the storm.  I’m not certain that there was lightning and thunder during that storm on the disciples’ boat, but in our retelling there was.  Jesus said, “Why are you afraid?”  And with a word the wind and waves were stilled.  And in that moment of the retelling there was no denying this great gift I’ve been given, to speak truth to this young life, and even to hear it told back to me.  “Mommy, Jesus died on the cross and Jesus is alive and Jesus makes me feel all better.”  Ah, grace.  Such sweet grace.

(By the way, since reading Jesus’ words, we haven’t heard a single roll of thunder…)

He still hasn’t fallen asleep, and plays with my hair as I type.  But in the new light of this grace, I’m no longer worried about when he will finally go to sleep… but rather how quickly this precious moment will go by.

Thank you, Holy Spirit, for your work.  Even in me.