I have just finished Chapter One of the book I have been staring at for the past three weeks, too scared to open. Do you know the feeling? You know something will be nourishing to your soul, but you're almost terrified of how it will change you. Or, knowing the depth, you wait for just the right moment, because somehow it doesn't feel right diving into the deep-end of living an emptier, fuller life in God while your daughter cries about spilled milk and Elmo is on the T.V. And, as this is where you live right now, it almost feels like no moment is the "right moment." Maybe it's just me.
Only one chapter in - an introductory chapter really - and already seeds of growth have been planted. The most noticeable seed begins with one idea - one that is not even an over-riding theme for the book, let alone the chapter, but clings to the soil of my mind nevertheless.
The thought is this: it is sheer arrogance which leads us to believe that had God only chosen to write the story our way - the way that omits suffering, senseless death and pain - life - my life, the lives of those to follow after me - would have turned out better. We tend to believe, in our questions of, "Why, God?" that our version would have had a happy ending.
And what on earth, or below, causes us to think that we - who did nothing to create one hair on our heads or cell in our bodies, who cannot, for the life of us, quit doing that one thing that we always vow we won't do again, who spend our days judging, gossiping, criticizing and wallowing in bitterness or resentment, only to hide it all from the world behind a smiling facade - could possibly understand what "good" is or what a "happily ever after" truly looks like.
And there is God in Heaven, the Creator of our beings, of all that is beautiful on this Earth, all-knowing, all-powerful, all-good, filled with Truth, orchestrating the most lovely of all symphonies and we have the audacity to question Him?
All of the above chastisement sounds strong and convicting, but when I consider the context - a context of pain I have never known, a pain which cripples me with fear when I contemplate its coming day - when the unthinkable happens and our very souls are torn to shreds, what other response is there, if not a questioning at the rightness of it all?
The answer this book offers is gratefulness. A recognition of the overwhelming gifts with which God has blessed us which always seem to fade in the darkness of our pain, yet, when brought to focus, shed light on all around us.
My prayer is that I may make this thanksgiving such a part of me that I will not even consider another option, when the faith-shaking day arrives, but to fall on my knees in gratitude for what He has given, rather than what has been taken away.
Till this soil, Lord. Grow this seed. May this field of my heart produce a fruit that is pleasing to You.