Saturday, October 22, 2011

Behold the Manner of Love

It was a Sunday. I’d behaved terribly. Pouted. Shrugged shoulders. Sulked. In the words of my mother, showed my rear. The fallout was evident before I really knew what had happened, and then I spent the next six hours…processing.

How was I so foolish, so reckless? How did I miss that first sign of Temper raising her ugly head to fight? Fearing the worst, and knowing it to be plausible, I geared up. Running shoes. Ponytail. Pullover. As I headed into the street, the thought occurred to me: music. I need music. So I went back and began again.

Setting out, my playlist was tailor-made. Songs of security, comfort, protection. Songs of grace, forgiveness. Songs of hope for those times when the world comes crashing down around your ears, and you hear every last piece of rubble topple, fall and settle into dusty place on the ground. My exhausted soul soared. It’s the weary joy, the faith of saying – this may be really difficult, but I refuse to despair because I know better.

Really, how could I not know better? How could I possibly even skim over the chapters of my history and believe anything other than the Father’s grace and protection over my days? And so I ran. And I prayed. I cried and sang and pushed myself to go as far as I could until I the pain in my lungs finally overpowered the desperate ache in my chest.

I came to rest on the half-finished deck at Mom and Charlie’s house. Mom had been asking for the deck for a while, so Charlie began to build as soon as the weather got cooler. For some reason, it felt like the right place to land, so I sat and was still. I prayed for more hope, for a unique word spoken into this mess I’d created.

I looked around me at the tools, boards and scraps scattered about the patio. The work was about half done, but Charlie’s design was clear – boards running diagonal from brick to post, one level, fenced in with two openings here and there. Already, it was beautiful because you could tell how it was going to turn out – you could see what he had in mind. And so I was lost in thought when the song began. You make beautiful things, You make beautiful things out of the dust. I brushed sawdust from my pants, hugged my knees to my chest and thought, Indeed. It was the word I'd prayed for, the hope I needed in that moment.

Not long after, the storm passed. My broken spirit gave way to a whole new brand of humility, contrition. Through no skill of my own, I found the words to say what I felt, what needed to be said to mend the fence. And even now, when the hope that gleamed uncontrollably just days ago is faintly flickering and threatening to disappear, I go back to the deck and I sit. The work is almost finished. Just a few more boards, a few more nails. I imagine by this time next weekend, the tools will be gone, the sawdust will have been swept away, and the memory of wood, metal, dust and chaos will begin to be replaced by memories of evenings spent outside in crisp air, taking in the beauty.

And I will remember the greatness of the love the Father has given unto us, that we should be called the children of God. That we are His workmanship, created in His image. That He is the ultimate Craftsman, and that my soul full well knows that His works are wonderful.

I will trust Him.

What He has built already is beautiful beyond words. Years ago, I wouldn’t have dared hoped for this restoration of dignity, for this setting of feet in such a spacious place, for the continuation of anything but sorrow, much less the beginning of a good work in me. I know that He will be faithful to complete it.

I know that He will be faithful. Tonight, and for always, that is enough.

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