When I was training for a marathon, I would fill my pockets with orange slices in Ziploc bags. As weariness snuck up, one or two slices popped in my mouth would push it back and give me strength to press on another few kilometers. God's words and His encouragement sometimes come in bite-sized slices -impressions, experiences, encounters - and are just enough to push weariness back and keep us pressing on a little further...

Saturday, December 31, 2011

Good History (May 7, 2009)

There’s an impressive looking calculator on my dining room table. Under it are notes on Hitler, Stalin and Mao – papers scribbled with multicolored explanations of DNA transcription and translation are scattered across my desk, and a hand-drawn picture of blood flow through the heart sits by the window. It’s quiet now. In this moment. The air outside is light and full of silently buzzing insects, blissfully unaware of the mechanisms of cell reproduction going on inside their tiny bodies.

The last few months of my life have been filled with precious little moments like this one. Moments that glitter like gems along the tenuous strand of my life, precious either in their fullness or in their vacuum. Moments treasured for their sweetness and for their brevity. Moments that are sweet because I know just how short they are.

Over the last few months, my life has been jumbled up with the lives of a bundle of others. There are journeys I have taken, and journeys that have brought others to me. There are journeys that have taken them away again.

The reason my house is covered with history and biology and sparkly converse tennis shoes is that a few of the girls have moved in. It’s the start of finals, and their parents are out of town. They’re here to be fed and sent to bed and loved on. Before them we had a musician and a cameraman in the guest room and on the couch. They were preceded by a lawyer turned revolutionary, a pied piper who leads many to great heights of faith as they kneel down to serve the poor.

He came just a few days after I had left his world – Romania. I lived and laughed and jostled and tended wounds among children of the very rich come to serve the very poor. I baked and loved and watched the sunsets with comedians and kings, with sweet sisters and wild men. I sometimes felt like Wendy, caring for Peter Pan and the Lost Boys, although they are more found than most men ever hope to be. Moments there flash like gold in a pan of dirt, miracles slipped just under the surface of the mundane.

I have run through the streets of Rome and been silenced by the majesty of Austrian alps. I have cried in the villages of France watching hearts as hard as winter begin to thaw and heard whispers of the coming spring in other hearts along the Hungarian highways. I have witnessed the goodness of God in a million tiny little ways, overwhelmed by the beauty of His love borne out in my life and in the lives of others.

I cannot fully explain the value of these precious little moments to you. I know only that they fly by, and so often I have missed them in the midst of my busyness, and tiredness and weakness. I am trying now to treasure them – to soak in the sounds and the smells of them, to feel with intention the weight of their air on my skin. I want to steep myself in such moments – when the barefoot sun walks soft upon my face, as it does on a Sunday morning in the Romanian foothills to the mingled joyous strains of a guitar, tin flute and didgeridoo.

Right now I am tired. There has been more studying than sleeping going on, and the cacophony of laughter and learning and chaos over the last week has been almost never-ending. In a way, it’s what makes this moment – right now – so sweet. It is this silence that reminds me how precious all those former moments have been. It is this emptiness that reminds me what a treasure it will be when the doorbell rings again, and they all shuffle in full of excitement or frustration, giddy with the knowledge of all they’re now allowed to forget.

Part of the beauty of believing in God is having Someone to thank for the moments that stretch long and wide under the luminous glow of peace. These moments, these people, these friends have been gifts of a loving Father to His tiny daughter. I know we will not all pass this way again, and it is the rarity, the brevity of these times that make them as special as they are. Dry days are coming, but my loving Father has given me these treasures to store up, so that when the times of famine come, there are jewels in my heart, keeping it lit.

The King of all the earth “Knows the plans that [He] has for me, plans to prosper me and not to harm me; to give me a hope and a future” (Jeremiah 29:11). He knows when these precious little moments will come, and He knows when I will need to hold onto the ones that have slipped by, alive only in my memory, pearls of joy spent with those I dearly love.

I am thankful for the pearls He has brought my way. I am determined not to complain in their absence, because owning them has never been my right – only a gift. I am thankful for the gifts He has brought my way – late nights, bedtime stories, study sessions, breakfast prayers, treat time on the veranda, coffee in pajamas at noon, running through the hills of Tuscany, cabin time, God moments and songs in the sun by a guitar, tin flute, and didgeridoo.

There is history all over my dining room table, and every moment of it has been precious. It may be passing by, but it hasn’t passed away. I love that there are scattered notes of DNA strands on my desk, and a hand-drawn heart by the window. I love the clutter of forgotten sweaters and sparkly converse tennis shoes because it means that my God is good and has blessed me with more than I could ever ask for. I pray that we all learn the beauty of soaking in and thanking our good, good God for such treasured history. 

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