Sunday, February 12, 2006
A loud moan woke me from a restless sleep.
Brenda was trying to scream from the depths of a bad dream; only a strangled gurgling sound came out.
I placed my cheek against hers, woke her with soft words of safety and encouragement. I prayed over her, stroking her hair, holding her close.
I can only partially understand the psychological demons that plague her subconscious. I can only partially understand the spiritual demons that plague our home. I can grasp a little better the emotional, financial, and physical demons that prowl the edges of our life together.
I love this world.
Really... I do.
This terrible place where babies are born dying of AIDS, where land mines amputate children at play, where bombs fall from the sky, and placid oceans rise up and sweep away villages.
I love this world.
From where I am sitting I see tiny violets blossoming in my lawn; the mower will crop them within a day or so. They grow where they cannot survive. Ephemeral, beautiful.
I love this world.
Brenda asked me how a good and just God could let evil things happen to a child.
That is the central question to the Book of Job. How could a good God...
I can see in my mind’s eye the photo of two years ago, a Haitian child making cakes out of dirt and lard to feed herself and her little brother.
I sat on a rock the other morning. It was good. I went back that afternoon. And again the next day. I watched the river flow.
It is very beautiful. A heron glided in, landing in a tree across the river. A coyote yipped, startling the deer by the trees a hundred yards away. The river swirled below me, dark and swollen from an unusually wet winter. In places it flowed the wrong direction, a backwater sweeping foam through the clutching branches of trees that, for this year, this season, find themselves standing in dark water.
The Willamette River flowed past my perch, almost exactly as it did when Jesus let men stretch him out on a roughhewn post and drive nails into His body.
I love this world. This place that is so painful, so hurtful.
I love this world that has me confused and searching for steadiness where all is swirling in ways that do not seem to make sense.
I love this world filled with things of beauty destined to be mowed.
I love this world of confusion and choices.
Our choices. My choices.
Place my desires first, or follow His commands?
It’s freedom. Freedom given us by a God who wants us to love Him and each other because it is a choice.
He lets us have our way for a century, give or take a few years, so we can have choices.
How could a good God? Because He wants us free to choose to not think of ourselves first.
We can choose to follow a difficult path, or we can bail. (So many bail. So many hurt and hurting.)
This freedom means there are people who become monsters, hurting children, and there are people who run into hallways where bullets fly, pulling children to safety.
Tonight our church is voting on the architect's plan for rebuilding our church from the fire my child started. The cost for the new building is $800,000 more than the money received from the insurance company.
Tonight I will worry a little about my home, my children, my wife, my finances, my spiritual growth... and the oh so many questions and emotions that churn within my heart, and I will ask Him once again to show me the next step on this shadowed path.
Tonight I will try my best to set aside my fears for my family, my strange mix of emotions regarding the fire, and prayerfully, worshipfully, make choices about that new building, just as anyone else in the membership will do.
Tonight I will approach this meeting with thoughts about my wife’s nightmares, and the fears still hidden in the hearts of my children, torn from horrors and placed in my home, and the apprehensions about my work, and the repairs my home needs, and the lawyers sniffing around for assets, and the rashes on my hands, and... and...
And I love this world.
You see, in this place, this world, I am learning what cannot be learned in Heaven. I am learning the difference between being a naturally selfish man and a servant of the God who wishes so much we didn’t hurt and cry and ache and moan in our sleep.
In this place I can leave crowded cities and walk in woods and watch herons fly and sit on a rock above a confused river.
In this world I can stop and pick the violet from the grass, and lay it on my desk while I type a blog post, before the mower comes.