Thursday, December 8, 2011

My cup overflows

Yohanan had diarrhea earlier this week. In those two days, I must have washed him every other hour. The poor boy was feverish at night. My lower maintenance child became a koala, a sweet but sick bear who wanted to be held at every waking moment. I was glad to offer him some comfort, as I imagine the pain was a little scary. I must confess, however, his chubby arms felt slightly constraining.

I was a lot younger than Hans when we first met. I still am. When he first talked to me about our friendship, he basically proposed a marriage. No, he did not utter the words "marry me" or anything that one would typically associate with a marriage proposal. But his words were hope-filled.

He talked of carrying my suitcases when we visit China, walking in the rain, and drinking cups of hot apple cider by the fireplace. His intentions were clear. With him, I never had to guess. Always secure, always safe. Nonetheless, to the twenty-two-year-old me, commitment to one person for the rest of my life seemed so -- narrow.

On this side of eternity, God's will can seem so constraining. His law seems so rigid, his boundaries so restrictive. Jesus -- the way, the truth, and the life? Why so exclusive? I am guessing this is the way Emeth feels about our rules.

This is far from the truth, of course. Life only seems constraining when we choose to see it that way.

We ask, "what is God's will for my life?" Though in reality, we've already decided which way we would prefer. "God's will," in our minds, would only lead to one place, or one vocation, or one person. When things do not happen the way we prefer, we "accept his sovereignty" with resignation, rather than with gratitude and trust. We despise his guidance and discipline; his rod and his staff do not comfort.

In the beginning, God drew boundaries. Out of nothing, he created everything. Out of chaos, he created order. He separated light from darkness, the sky above from the waters below, land and seas, day and night. Boundaries were placed to protect, to preserve, in order that life may flourish.

In one sense, God's will is narrow. After all, Jesus did say, small is the gate and narrow is the path that leads to life.

this narrowness
is the narrowness
of a birth canal.
There is an entire universe waiting on the other side.

In Hans, I found a universe.
It expanded with Emeth. And again, with Yohanan.

I used to be grateful for a cup of freshly ground, french-pressed coffee. But anyone would be. This week, my cup overflowed with instant coffee. In my universe of koala bears, time is a luxury not to be wasted on trivial things. And I'm learning to give thanks, and to love my new brew.

This is freedom and grace indeed.


E! said...

Thank you. I remember this. On limimality. On the safe, sure One that I can give myself wholly to, and take Him to be mine.

Your rod and Your staff, they comfort me.

I smiled so wide when I read the first line of your letter: "I have been her mentor..." six! years! and four! And then joyous tears at the truly true paragraphs to follow. crazy years of my Father's great faithfulness to me.

I called to Him from my narrow prison, you know... Not knowing where I was, thinking He was silent.

He answered me in the freedom of space.

He is so sweet to me. Those floodwaters are birthwaters indeed.

E! said...

I'm 22. How scary

Seda said...

LOL it was scary! in a very sweet way. =)

Mentor sounded better than "disciple-er," which was what you asked me to be. Sister would have been more precise, but I was not sure how "professional" that would sound. =)

I loved the exercise. Thanks for asking me to write your recommendation. It was such an honor.

Seda said...

"He is so sweet to me. Those floodwaters are birthwaters indeed."

Indeed and amen.

Catherine said...

O_O 22 years old?! really?! i'm 22!!

God's discipline and endurance.. we were just talking about that in small group. bwa.. i feel like i'm going through it but i have no idea what i'm learning yet. right now im just swimming through a muck and trying to get out of it by flaling my arms around. sometimes i feel like it's only when i come out of it that i see what i learned.


but thanks jie :) love you!
and me miss talking to youuu!! <3

Catherine said...

hahaha, esther mentioned about being 22 too.

Olivia said...

I had to smile after reading your title and the first sentence :) But, once again, your writing brought me through another thought journey towards our Daddy

Seda said...

yling -- I'll see you soon! the Lord disciplines those he loves. *hug* we'll talk soon! love you.

Olivia -- =) I did notice that there are a few mentions of liquids in this post: rain, apple cider, coffee, and yes, diarrhea. =)

Ruth@GraceLaced said...

We think ourselves so capable, so sufficient, so fortified to manage broad boundaries; and yet, our loving Father knows our good, our joy, our safety in narrowness. I remember craving "wide open spaces" once...because I thought joy was to be found in taking steps in any direction that pleased me. Now, the older I get, the more I'm finding that the often treacherously narrow and challenging path of the Cross-centered life makes no allowance for distraction and wanderings...but can only be lived in-step with our Lord, one foot in front of the other. I'm glad you linked up, and encouraged us with this today.

thetoddlerwhisperer said...

"Life only seems constraining when we choose to see it that way." That is absolutely true. I seem to be reminded of this oh so often these days.

Nelle said...

'There is an entire universe waiting on the other side'. I lose sight of this so often - I think that contributes to the discontent with the narrow path - I forget where it's leading. Thanks. xo

Jocelyn said...

hi Irene,
just thought of leaving you a note to say that i just found ur blog from wini (she, serene and janice are my friends, same church etc.. and they are awesome cool, wives and mom) and so i think you are also really awesome, such a good role model for us to aspire to be wives who loves God and mothers who enjoy and teach their children so well :)
i will be reading your blog every now and then. just thought u should know your stories/adventures and all are a great encouragement for me :)
ocelyn, KL