Thursday, June 12, 2014


Sometime around 3 am Monday morning marked exactly three years since we lost Emmett. I've been busy with summer camp, an intentional and effective distraction from the passage of time, and just now starting my summer recovery. The beginning of summer is always a mixed blessing, with time to relax and recover, but always bringing with it a wellspring of memories that seem to pounce on me unexpectedly.

I'm reading Tozer's Pursuit of God (again) for our summer reading at school. From chapter 2:
There can be no doubt that this possessive clinging to things is one of the most harmful habits in life. Because it is so natural, it is rarely recognized for the evil that it is; but it's out workings are tragic.
We are often hindered from giving up our treasures to the Lord out of fear for their safety; this is especially true when those treasures are loved relatives and friends...
The Christian who is alive enough to know himself even slightly will recognize the symptoms of this possession malady and will grieve to find them in his own heart. If the longing after God is strong enough within him, he will want to do something about the matter...
Let us never forget that such a truth as this can never be learned by rote as one would learn the facts of physical science. They must be experienced before we can really know them. We must in our hearts live through Abraham's harsh and bitter experiences if we would know the blessedness which follows them. The ancient curse will not go out painlessly; the tough old miser within us will not lie down and die obedient to our command. He must be torn out of our heart like a plant from the soil; he must be extracted in agony and blood like a tooth from the jaw. He must be expelled from our soul by violence as Christ expelled the money changers from the temple. And we shall need to steel ourselves against his piteous begging, and to recognize it as springing out of self-pity, one of the most reprehensible sins of the human heart.
If we would indeed know God in growing intimacy, we must go this way of renunciation. And if we are set upon the pursuit of God, He will sooner or later bring us to this test.... So we will be brought one by one to the testing place, and we may never know when we are there. At that testing place there will be no dozen possible choices for us; just one and an alternative, but our whole future will be conditioned by the choice we make.
um.  wow.

We may never know we are there.  wow.

Looking back on my journey with Emmett, there were several important moments throughout our relationship, some of them hard or pivotal, but many were factually insignificant. Each of these moments I can remember with stunning clarity even though I experienced them at the time without any recognition of their significance. What marked these moments was not the details of the decision, but the underlying choice to trust God with the very person most precious to me rather than manipulate the circumstances to my satisfaction. These particular crossroads stick out in my memory because they were instances where God stripped away all distractions and captivated my entire attention, making me acutely aware of my choices. From decisions we made while dating to the last week of his life, I can remember a continual, deliberate releasing of my control. Not that I didn't violate my own intentions a thousand times along the way; I certainly struggled with sin in my marriage. I didn't always make the right choices, but God, full of patient mercy, continued to bring me back to a place of trust. Just like Abraham, I stumbled and doubted and tried to figure out how to make it work on my own, but in the end I always trusted.

And yet he chose not to spare Emmett like he chose to spare Isaac.

But I still choose this pursuit. And some days it's a glorious journey full of glimpses into the hope of the glory of God. Other days are just spent holding on to promises that seem long dead even though you feel like an old, cheated fool.

I'm memorizing the beginning of Romans 5 right now:
Therefore since we have been justified through faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have gained access by faith into the grace in which we now stand. And we rejoice in the hope of the glory of God. Not only so but we also rejoice in our sufferings because we know that suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character; and character, hope. And hope does not disappoint us because God has poured out his love into our hearts by the Holy Spirit, whom he has given us.
Suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character; and character, hope. And hope does not disappoint us because God has poured out his love into our heart...

I can recall an Elizabeth Elliot quote from her book These Strange Ashes, "It is in our acceptance of what is given that God gives himself." This journey may not be what I wanted or what I would ever choose for myself, and I have not yet reached the point of being able to rejoice in my sufferings, but three years into this latest detour, I still have not been disappointed by hope.

Saturday, June 7, 2014


Here I am stuck again.

Can you imagine how Abraham and Sarah felt as they wandered in the desert for decades, still childless despite the promise. I can imagine their story felt at first like an epic romance before wandering off into boredom and despair and hopelessness and fear and sin. I can imagine they left their land with high hopes and crazy dreams and were able to keep up their spirits for a while.  But then years turn into decades that turn into... Well, you get the idea. Or do you really? I can imagine myself a good 12 years into that desert wandering with grumbly servants and thirsty camels and the hot, hot, did I mention HOT, sun baking my skin and causing one ferocious headache. And where's that child, God? After all, you promised!

But then there is Hebrews 11:13-16...
All these people were still living by faith when they died. They did not receive the things promised; they only saw them and welcomed them from a distance, admitting that they were foreigners and strangers on earth. People who say such things show that they are looking for a country of their own. If they had been thinking of the country they had left, they would have opportunity to return. Instead they were longing for a better country - a heavenly one. Therefore God is not ashamed to be called their God, for he has prepared a city for them.
So maybe I'm stuck here because I'm a big loser and God hates me. Or maybe I'm stuck here because walking with God is more like slogging through a swamp full of mosquitoes than unwrapping a neat little package in coordinated wrapping paper with a shiny bow on top.  We like stories with shiny bows because they make us clap our hands and jump up and down and wonder when we're going to get our package with a shiny bow on top because, really God, we've been extra good.

But I'm tired, and I'm stuck, and I know there's no shiny bow. So what do I do now? Seems I have a choice to give up and go about my own business doing whatever I want since God didn't deliver on my terms. Or I can heave one foot out of this squelching mud and set it right back down in the muck a little further ahead because I've tasted something better.

Lamentations 3:19-23

I remember my affliction and my wandering,
     The bitterness and the gall.
I well remember them,
     and my soul is downcast within me.
Yet this I call to mind
     and therefore I have hope:

Because of the Lord's great love we are not consumed,
     for his compassions never fail.
They are new every morning;
     great is your faithfulness.