Tag Archives: personal

Clamming up Instead of Rising up

My mom’s birthday was today. I don’t know if it was the fact that it is her birthday, or just some other thoughts I’ve had lately about womanhood and motherhood, but something put it in me that I should be thanking and praising her more.

“Her children rise up and call her blessed; her husband also, and he praises her.” I saw this verse in new light today. This isn’t just the pro-activeness of the mother’s virtues that somehow causes “you are blessed” to burble out of her children like fizz in an elementary classroom volcano. No, this rising up is the initiation of the kids, in response to their mother’s virtue. They rise up, call people’s attention with the clink of a glass, “Ahem, ahem, ladies and gentlemen,” and speak of the virtuous facets of their mother.

Except I wasn’t quite that bold. The restaurant was noisy and full of people. I don’t make speeches very well in front of my family. So, into the gift I gave her, I slipped a card on which I had put some scribblings of what I hoped were thoughtful praises. She opened it and read it, that permanent, sweet smile on her face that always shows up when there is the least bit of a reason to be glad. The table was silent as they watched her read. After glancing over her shoulder, my dad explained to everyone else that I had “written her an essay.” That awkwardness that always arises when someone reads in front of you something you wrote, suddenly bubbled and boiled over, and I slurped on my straw for good measure. Unfortunately, the Lord saw fit to place no water in my straw except for some ill-begotten droplets, which went immediately into my lungs, which gave me the lucky role of hacking and coughing and spewing and barking until every droplet rued the day it ended up in my straw. I’ve never been good at filling a silence. My mom got to the end of the card, and thanked me for it with shining violet eyes.

I don’t know if it said everything I wanted it to say. It probably didn’t. I don’t know if it said anything that she needed to hear. It might have. I do know that it’s been much too long since I’ve tried to tell her thank you. And I do hope, and will intentionally try, to not clam up so much when I should be rising up.

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Satisfied, Satisfied, Christ Has Satisfied

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A new editing project has been fed my way, so it will be another week before I can really dig into more research on John Calvin’s marriage. This editing project is a workbook accompaniment to a video series on mentorship and success. The audience is Christian students who are ready to launch out into the world and are trying to choose a path. What I love about this project is the focus it has on seeking God first, because many of the more specific particulars of our future will be added to us once we have sought God. (“Seek first the kingdom of God, and all these things will be added unto you.”)

This also fits perfectly with a chapter I just read in C. S. Lewis’s book on the Psalms. I don’t have it here with me; I’m in the library and could probably find it here if I really wanted to, but let me try to sum it up from memory. Lewis speaks of a thirst for God as if we are a parched land that soaks up water because water is the one solution to all its other problems. He talks about the rambunctious, indecently raucous praise of God that the Psalmist indulges in. This is the God of feasting, noisemaking, dancing, party poppers, and uncontrollable laughter. This is the God we seek and desire, not as a stuffy, starched-collar ascetic, but as a child who just woke up on Christmas morning and saw that it had snowed and that his parents were downstairs all rosy and jolly and full of love.

And, to round up everything I’ve read still further under one blanket topic, I recently came across a video post by Steve DeWitt called, Dealing with Disappointment When You’re Single. His main point was that he had “done” all that could be done, as a righteous man, to prepare for marriage. He was a pastor, he had prayed for his wife since he was 18, he truly wanted to be content while at the same time wanting to be married. Many married people tried to encourage him, like Job’s friends tried to encourage Job– not really helpful, not very truthful– with all their solutions. Finally the reigning glory and the thought that overcame his loneliness was that God had provided Jesus Christ for his salvation, and with Him, has He not freely provided him all things? Rather than it being a promise that he would get married, Steve took it as a promise that God was ultimately the satisfaction of all desires. Whether He provided marriage or not, He would, and did, satisfy.

This was a blessing to me. It is not wrong to want marriage and to look for it, but in the cosmic order of things, Jesus Christ Himself has been provided for my satisfaction and happiness. Nothing else will give it.

And just so I wouldn’t forget the lesson, one more reminder was given to me—this time in a sermon by Barry Cooper on Ecclesiastes 2. Believe it or not, the topic was on the Search for Satisfaction, and verse by verse Barry listed every reason that Solomon had to be satisfied… and yet he wasn’t. “One of the things that spoils our pleasures is our hunger to get out of them more than they can give. They weren’t designed to bring ultimate satisfaction. They were designed to point to Someone who can. …The problem is that we are far too easily pleased.”

Solid joys and lasting pleasure,

None but Zion’s children know.