Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Unfailing Love (In Every Season: Part 2 of 2)

(Missed Part I? Read it here!)

Sure enough, spring came in its own sweet time. With it began the slow, steady process of physical healing. My sister's beautiful wedding. The gift of plane tickets to visit a dear friend. Children's ministry opportunities. Hope was planted. I had no job, no idea where life was heading, but I was content. I was happy enjoying spring and daydreaming of summer, hoping it wasn't far away. But God loved me, had always provided and He knew what He was doing, so why should I worry?

When summer arrived, it seemed like hope's tiny rosebuds burst into full bloom with colour more glorious than I had ever before seen. Where did all this beauty come from and why had God chosen me to receive this enormous bouquet?

I savoured it. It was the most amazing gift I had ever been given. I clung to it with both hands, not daring to let it go. I didn't deserve it... not at all. But it was unequalled in beauty and I felt so cherished. I loved it.

Autumn appeared, and as the weather got cooler, the wind picked up, and the petals began to fall from my beautiful roses until all that remained was the seeds at the centre. I was left tightly grasping nearly bare stems, shielding the seeds from the elements, lest they too escape me.

I questioned. Yes. I was confused. Why would my Lover give me such a gift... only to tantalize me as I watch it be ripped apart and its beautiful petals scattered by the wind only a short while afterwards? I felt betrayed, like He was less than honest with me when He gave it. If I had only known it was so fragile, I would have... would have... what? Refused it? Enjoyed it less?

No. It was a beautiful gift. The brevity of its lifespan could subtract nothing from its beauty. It gave me a glimpse of just how much He loves me, and now I refocus my attention on my Lover Himself. He really was so immensely kind in giving such an exquisite gift. And, though I have little left of the gift, I know, without doubt, the depth of His love. He stayed close by, observing my fascination with His gift. He was always ready when I wanted to talk with Him, when I needed advice or a listening ear, whenever I needed His help. Even when I was too busy, enraptured by His gift, He pursued me and sought me out, and never let me wander too far.

But. I have little hope seeds left on these bare stems. They're all I have left of the roses, and I'm holding them tightly. He asks that I give them back to Him. I wince. Jesus, you know how I'm sentimental that way. Can't I keep them in memory of it?

His hand tenderly rests on my arm. You know I love you. So trust Me with those seeds.

I glance at the Hands holding me. Strong, steady, gentle Hands that have never been unkind to me. My gaze travels to His face, to His eyes so full of love and tenderness, and, as I slowly hand him the leftovers of my bouquet, he takes the remains and prepares the seeds for planting.

He smiles. It'll take time and the cold of winter. There, buried in the dark ground, they'll die. But, leave them alone, and, in the spring, they will grow. In time, you'll have many more roses than just a bouquet, and you and anyone that passes by can enjoy their beauty.

How kind He is. How wise. How very, very good to me. And to think that, in my shortsightedness, I can consider forfeiting all this just to hold on to some dead stems?

I'll leave you with this quote from Charles Spurgeon:

Remember this: 
had any other condition been better for you 
than the one in which you are, 
Divine love would have put you there.

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Unbelievable Grace (In Every Season: Part 1 of 2)

I do a year-in-review note for myself and my friends every year, but this year called for something a little different. I knew I needed to summarize 2009 somehow. To tell the faithfulness of my amazing God, especially this year, but didn't know quite how to do it.

Well, after reading a blog post by a friend this fall, I got to thinking about seasons. I noticed how closely life can resemble nature's seasons and was compelled to start writing about my year along those lines. So, while it's different in style than usual and a little longer, here is my year-in-review story, Part I:

I'll begin where the calendar did, with winter. My least favourite season. The earth around is dead and lifeless, lacking the vibrant colour and fruitfulness of the other seasons. Sure, I enjoy snowball fights and playing in the snow with the kids, wool coats and tall boots, hot tea and Christmas, but the best part of winter is knowing spring will follow.

Last winter was hard. I spent a lot of time in doctor's offices, filling out a lot of paperwork, and dealing with the big mess of a workplace injury that left me without a job and, at least for a season, without many of the physical capabilities that I usually took for granted.

I had so many of questions for God. I knew He wasn't obligated to give me reasons, to tell me why and what He was doing. I knew better than to question whether He was in control or whether He had good plans in mind. But still. It was five months of, often intense, rhetorical questioning: WHY?! Months of fighting bitterness as continued work made things worse. Fighting for faith when I couldn't see an end to the pain.

Growing up, I've been kind of proud of being the strong one, the healthy one. The one that rarely gets down sick and never had to see a doctor. I may not have many special skills, but I could manage nearly any manual labour anyone gave me to do, and employers were certainly no exception. Suddenly that all changed. Now I not only was useless to my employer, but to my family, and, to some degree, myself. I just plain needed help and I very much resented that. God, surely I'm more useful when healthy and strong? I'm sure I could serve You a lot better if this would just go away!

(Or, maybe not. Maybe He could better use someone not so self-sufficient?)

It was a season of silence. Cold silence. But, not unlike the intensity of winter's sunbeams, the support of true friends was priceless and renewed my hope that spring would come and bring life to my world. Winter couldn't last forever.

(Continue to Part II!)

Thursday, January 07, 2010

Grace. Love. And 2009.

Wow. 2009 is over.

So much has happened in a year. So much has changed. But I still have the same gracious, faithful, completely trustworthy God who is as sovereign and worthy of worship as ever. Never have I been so sure of that as now. He is good. Always. And His love never ends.

He truly has “crowned the year with His goodness,” with mercies new every morning, with everlasting love, and I'm excited to see what 2010 will hold!

I think this is my summary song of 2009:
I can sing in the troubled times
Sing when I win
I can sing when I lose my step
And fall down again
I can sing 'cause You pick me up
Sing 'cause You're there
I can sing 'cause You hear me, Lord
When I call to You in prayer
I can sing with my last breath
Sing for I know
That I'll sing with the angels
And the saints around the throne

How can I keep from singing Your praise
How can I ever say enough
How amazing is Your love
How can I keep from shouting Your name
I know I am loved by the King
And it makes my heart want to sing

—Chris Tomlin, "How Can I Keep From Singing"
May God go with you and bless you with a beautiful 2010!

(Author's Note: A related two-part series is upcoming! It will deal more with the past year, with its questions, Answer, pain, joy, disappointments, and blessing.)