Monday, September 7, 2015


I love other people's babies. One of my dearest friends was fortunate enough to have twins recently, which is really perfect because whenever you visit, there are always enough babies to share. Currently they are at the stage where it is easy to make them laugh, which is of course irresistible. We hardly even talk to each other any more. I just visit and we play with babies and then I go home. As I was playing with one of them tonight, he grabbed fistfuls of my hair, and, delighted with his own brilliance, set himself to squealing right in my face as he kept a death grip on my head. There aren't many times in your life where it's cool when someone squeals in your face, I suppose, but it was awesome. 

If there were a trophy for worst mom of the year, I'd definitely be in the running for it. This week was a perfect storm of emotional overload that left me washed up Saturday morning with a full to do list and a desperate need to hide under my bed for a day.

But against my better judgment I got out of bed and finished my reading of Jonah over a cup of tea. Had I anticipated my day becoming an object lesson in the sins of Jonah's heart, I would've hopped the first boat to Tarshish and spent the weekend giving a whale indigestion. At least I can say the day ended with Quinn and I having a good discussion of sin and repentance as well as quite a bit of laughter, but the in between hours were brutal. 

So Sunday morning I hesitated before starting the book of Hosea thinking that should the Lord decide to make my life into another object lesson that day, it would be better to pick a different book of the Bible. But I forged ahead because I had recently read this passage from Buechner's Hungering Dark:
If the meaning of life is just a string of theological words, then who cares about it one way or another and what difference does it make and why bother to say the words at all, even if in some sense they are true? But if it is a reality, then words cannot contain it, you can only know it when you experience it, and if life in general has meaning, then every part of life also has meaning and you can experience it perfectly well by watching feathers fall to the ground or seeing the teacher walk away in silence...
If I were an unusually brave man, I would do something like this from the pulpit. First of all, I would stop speaking, and then I would perform some action of the kind that the prophets of Israel used to perform, because... they also got tired of words from time to time and resorted to more direct means of pointing to the reality, for them, of God's judgment  or of God's love.
And what a picture Hosea is of sin and redemption and unfailing love. I have loved the book since I first read it almost two decades ago. Cries of mercy and love and longing break through the passages of condemnation and judgment as if God can't help himself. And this life, this experience even of my own sinful nature, has meaning because God himself lifts me out of it. And some day, when his work in me is complete, I will hold onto my savior with new hands and squeal with delight just like my little friend this evening. Because on that day, even the ugly parts of my story will be known as beautiful because they will find their meaning in his story.

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