Thursday, May 31, 2012

The black in my painting

Yesterday, a dear friend sent me a letter I wrote to her from long ago. I had forgotten about this letter.

On brighter days, we often forget how it was like when the days were dark. This letter was written when her world was very, very dark.

The light has been dim in our world these past few weeks, our future unclear. It is good to be reminded that when the night is deep, grace is deeper still.
Dear friend,

My heart grieves with you. I know all too well how it feels to be harassed by my own sins and self. Just the other day, in my "apology" to Hans, I burst into tears with self-disgust  as I realized that even in my attempt to act rightly, my words were tainted with self-righteousness and selfishness. I felt, as you said, so helpless.
On this side of eternity, we cannot know the reasons for all our afflictions. Some afflictions are caused by our own sins, some are not. Learn to distinguish these well. If it is the first, we must repent and seek after forgiveness. In either cases and all the more in times of joy -- wait upon the Lord, sing his praises, fear him -- for this the the whole duty of humanity.
Suffering and sorrow in our lives is like the color black in paintings. Our lives are as a canvas before the Lord, rebels and children alike. He is sovereign, he is good, he loves perfectly, and he does all things well. The black in our lives was no mistakes, every stroke is a part of the whole.
In Psalms 33, the psalmist sings a "new song" in the face of death and famine, suffering that was not due to his sins. In Psalm 40, he again sings a "new song" as he is rescued from the miry bog that is his own unrighteousness. In both psalms, Yahweh is the cause of the new song that comes forth from his lips. We are to wait upon our deliverer, for he is faithful, good, and true.

Flee from thoughts with the tendency towards "if only." They ultimately come from a heart that is discontent, and discontentment comes from a heart that does not trust in the goodness of our Lord. When thoughts such as these like ravens fly above our heads, do not let them build a nest on your head! Run away, fill your minds with thoughts of Christ.

My desert drew me to the fountain. It was so dry, so barren. Let us have the faith of Hannah, singing her victory song and raising her horn in midst of her affliction.

Learn to die well. Learn to lament well. Learn to praise well. For this is the path of the cross, this is the straight and the narrow, where our souls are trained to love the Lord above all things. Our Lord Jesus is a man of sorrows, follow him.
Dear friend, you would not be wanting that world so badly, if it was not for God's hand that is readying you while you are in this one. For this and much more, I give thanks. 

Friday, May 18, 2012

Thoughts about heaven

For one reason or another, Emeth talks about heaven a lot. His fascination with his future forever home is intriguing, and so endearing to me. In this season of arduous (and at times discouraging) house-hunting, his little comments are God's grace to me, reminding me to not place my hope in sticks and stones. This world is not my home.

Here are some quotes I am saving for rainy days, in case the roof leaks.

1. Emeth can't wait to get to heaven because there will be no more coughing and sneezing and hiccups. Nobody understands hiccups.

2. Emeth is getting ready to go to heaven. Emeth is so excited! God made a house for Emeth. Emeth is bringing a luggage with four rocks.

3. Emeth doesn't have to bring his toys because God will share his toys with me.

4. God will give me a new skin because Emeth's skin is very old. Emeth has been wearing it for a long long time. (He is four)

5. (When his allergies striked, he said,) Emeth is being brave because God will help me breathe someday.

Friday, May 11, 2012

I hope I can love like this someday

If your soul need some lightening today, these two videos might draw the curtains and brighten your darkness a little. They are stories about love, of the self-sacrificing, self-forgetting kind.

The first story is about an older pair of husband and wife. Seven or eight years ago, Hans read this book to me by the fireplace from cover to cover, A Promise Kept. I was visiting Minneapolis. We were still considering marriage. I had very little idea what marriage was about. It was good to hear the story again after all these years.

You can read their story by Christianity Today.
"Living by Vows," the story behind this video. (1990)
"Muriel's Blessings," his reflection on the mystery of love fourteen years later. (2004) I've read this several times over the years. I can't make it through without some tears.

The second story is about a younger pair of husband and wife, at the beginning their life together.

I have loved and cried over Larissa's writings about her husband and best friend. This is my favorite so far, "A Daily Disabled Life."

Sunday, May 6, 2012

Sleepy grace

I am a mother of two young children. Most days, my head hits the pillow and sleep come over me like a crashing wave. Sleep washes away the old, and brings the hope of new beginnings. How I welcome these momentary deaths.

Sometimes, sleep delays. On these nights, I beg for it to slay me. Let me be consumed by its force but do not leave me awake, tortured.

While Adam was sleeping, God made Eve. The first sleep mentioned in the Bible. Adam was awaken to the dawn of nuptial love. Her father brought her to him. In the twilight, they walked in the Garden when the earth was still young. No other husband and wife have known joy so great, though their time was brief.


Sleep reminds us that we are not God. Made of dust turned into flesh and bones, we are confined by our frames. We need to die — everyday — in order to live.

Sleep requires trust, and submission to the order of things. Unconscious, we are vulnerable, with little control over our minds and bodies. Sleep comes to those who know they are kept in safety. As someone once said: "Sometimes the godliest thing you can do in the universe is get a good night's sleep — not pray all night, but sleep."