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.
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.