Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Stale Marshmallow Bunnies and New Thoughts on Grace

The marshmallow bunnies are all on clearance and there's rainbow colored jelly beans everywhere you look. Easter is over. We're in the midst of Spring. This should be a bright sunny season of our life. But just because its Spring and just because Christ rose from the dead and we can, potentially, have a life of victory and overcoming power, doesn't mean we do. Well, we do- and we don't. It's that already-but-not-yet syndrome of the Christian life that we're always wrestling with.

Just because I celebrated Christ's resurrection on Sunday, doesn't mean that I live a life of new thoughts, new hopes and new dreams. I don't. A lot of old stuff creeps into my life and I deal with moldy thoughts and decaying dreams. I sort through a lot of stuff, mentally, and am always trying to figure out what is outdated, what is lost or futile, and what is locked in lack of grace. I should probably be concentrating on more on where the grace is, where the light is- but its human nature to mourn and regret and look back.

I'm reading Jon Katz's latest book and its beautiful and sweet and troubling. He had a troubled childhood. He loves animals. He's a gifted writer. So what results from that combination is a story about his life on a farm with his animals and the underlying feelings and memories we have when we're stroking the top of our dog's head, or feeling soothed by their weight as they lean against us, sighing with contentment. We're comforted by our animal companions, but we're sometimes enjoying their companionship while feeling alone at the same time because these pets know nothing of the weight of pressures and responsibilities we face.

My dog, Harry, is usually contented and at rest. He lives to be near me- and if I'm not available, he'll take my husband or kids as second choice. He mourned my son's absence for a while- when he went off to college- but now Harry has adjusted to the changes in our household.

That's the key thing- isn't it?- adjusting to the changes that take place in our life, however small or large they may be. Seems to me that those who are agile and quick to adjust to change do better than those of us who wrestle with why the change is occurring instead of getting with the reality that Change has occurred.

If you're going through a trial or challenge right now, a dog's warm furry body pressed against you as you stare vacantly out a window might comfort you some. But it can't take away the feeling of weight or worry. And meditating on the power God has to raise the dead can help you lift your eyes and ask Him for help- but it can't take away the scenario you face. You're going to walk through the valley of the shadow of death: maybe death of a dream or a hope you had, maybe death of innocence or naivete, or maybe its the death of a plan you had to get you someplace- any place but where you are.

I take comfort in the fact that for everyone who heard the news of Christ's resurrection, there was disbelief, a sense of incredulity, doubt even, and denial. How can it be? How can LIFE occur when all is lost, gone, or without breath? How can I think it's not over when I was told it's all over?

God likes to rattle our cages. He loves to cheer up the downtrodden. And He especially likes to prove me wrong when I tell Him I'm too weary to get excited about anything because life is too uphill.

That's when God turns the tables, turns my world upside down, and makes me go flying deliriously downhill like a skier shooting down the mountain- only now its not a terrifying trip but a coasting down over the very mountains that I had just been trying to climb. God decides when you can't take anymore- and He's a very good judge of our actual abilities to cope.

And when we feel like we're at the edge of what we can stand, He has an experience in mind that changes what we think about ourselves, our God, our trial, our life. It's an experience of grace. And it will be there when you need it most.

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