Monday, August 15, 2011

On this outrageous joy

Our hearts were full as we drove home from church yesterday.

We had just sent three girls off to college with a (not-so-surprising) surprise party. They said they knew something was going on (thanks to my bad acting skills). But I think that they were at least surprised by how much their friends prepared for them at the party, and how much they laughed.

We laughed so much and so hard that my jaws still hurt. We had a few rounds of charades. The boys were the designated actors, while the audience guessed whom they were mimicking. And they were outrageous. A little mean, the way that brothers can be mean. But they were so funny, the way that only brothers can be funny.

My heart swelled with pride as I watched the three graceful young ladies received their graduation gifts before the church. So different from the eighth-grade squirrels I met five years ago. Squirrels with braces and ponytails. And on Sunday, they stood before me, like Ladies at the King's court.

And to think that I nearly missed out on this outrageous happiness.

Here a picture of me with some squirrels.

A few months before our wedding, five years ago, a Chinese immigrant church approached Hans and asked for help with their English ministry. Knowing that Hans was about to be married, they kindly gave Hans a few extra months to consider. This was one of the main topics of discussion during our honeymoon: to serve or not to serve.

I gotta say, I was not very enthusiastic about jumping into ministry. Especially so soon after our wedding. Hans and I never lived in the same city up to this point and I had hoped that we would spend a few months in our "newlywed bliss"... or something.

Foolishness, I'm now certain.

Hans was committed to be in ministry while we were in seminary. And here was a wide open door. So, he took me by the hand, and we walked in.

Looking back, this was the best way to begin our life as husband and wife. There is nothing like learning about the other person while being in ministry together.

Here is one from our early days at the church. Pre-Emeth-and-Yohanan.

I found myself in the book of Jonah the other day. Again.

Throughout the story, Jonah was whiny. When Nineveh repented, his grumpiness turned into outright anger--at God. Then suddenly, there was a change (albeit very brief ) -- the only point in the story when Jonah was actually happy. A plant grew and covered him from the sun. He was ecstatic.

I can relate to this, because I get whiny when I'm hot. There was Jonah, before a harvest that was plentiful, and he would rather sit under a plant and do nothing. Because it was shady.

I was Jonah. There I was, before a harvest that was plentiful, and I was dreaming about some obscure "newlywed bliss."  I wanted comfort and ease more than I wanted to do God's work.

I am still like Jonah, in so many ways. As it turns out, what I am most happy about is a pretty good indicator of the idols in my heart. Air-conditioner and my comfortable chair make me happy. An undisturbed nap schedule for my babies and relaxing weekends make me happy.

I am my own idol. I want to be my own god. I would rather serve myself.

I am so glad God was merciful and sent a worm to eat the plant (if you are confused--read the story! It's a good one).

If I had my way, we would have missed out on a bunch of delightful squirrels--beautiful ladies and gentlemen--whom we love, and we would have missed out on this outrageous joy.

Baptism, Easter 2007.

2 comments:

Sherryberry said...

this brings joy to my heart =)

Seda said...

Sherry! You were a great encouragement during those early days. That first picture was taken on YOUR couch. =) Thank you for being such a joy to us, from the first day we met (at Franklin's house) until now. And it was so awesome to see you at the party.