Monday, October 30, 2017

Beautiful Rot (A guest post)

A warm welcome to a new friend, Naomi Marks, mother of six and seminarian wife at Ft. Wayne Theological Seminary.

I have a vision. This vision is of my husband and myself ministering together with our whole slew of children – praying together, worshipping together, and meeting the needs of the saints together. 

Where am I right now? Nursing a two-month-old, our first baby. 

So, the question is – how do we get from where we are to where we want to be? 

As I took a walk this evening and watched all the vibrant leaves fall to the ground and get trampled on and dry out, I was thinking that the one thing I know for sure it will take to get where we want to be is death. Yes, death – that nasty, evil, brutish enemy of ours, who has a way of snatching away life. Usually this is a bad thing, but there are some things that the Bible says are better off dying and the one I was specifically thinking about is self.

Self. The old man. The nature of Adam. The flesh. This is the thing we must set out to kill if we want to live a life that bears fruit. Why? Because “unless a grain of wheat falls into the earth and dies, it remains alone; but if it dies, it bears much fruit” (John 12:24). I kind of feel like my husband and I are acting like the leaves this year, as they slowly detach from the tree and bury themselves into the ground.

What’s getting buried? Our pride. Our desire to not be embarrassed. Our time. Our energy. Our self-absorbed prayer life. Our quiet. Our solitude as a couple. “Ha!” you might yell, “good-bye leaves.” Yes, this is true; good-bye for now. Down they go, into the ground, covered with snow, seemingly never to be heard from. But we know that come springtime, they have fertilized the ground so much that new things grow out of them. Those grains of wheat – they were just planting themselves in order that lovely stalks might grow again.

We might no longer have candlelight dinners. We might not be able to sleep as many hours. We might not have extra time to play games and do what we like. We might not have the luxury of feeling like we know what we’re doing. We might have to spend hours and hours training and teaching and demonstrating again and again what it means to be a servant of God. We will probably feel overwhelmed at times, and frustrated, and exhausted. That’s because we’re dying. Our selves are planting themselves in the ground as we attempt to birth and raise other selves – the ones that are lovely, made in the image of Christ.

And what will grow? I hope it’s another generation. I hope it’s kids who will learn to add 1+1 and read Dr. Seuss and Shakespeare and write letters to the editor and vote against abortion and fill up churches and run for president and eventually have kids of their own, another round of sippy cups and Cheerios and math books. I hope it’s kids who will carry on the vision of their father and their grandfather of opening their hearts and homes and hands to people in need, giving freely of what they have to help others. Generation after generation who will study God’s Word, preach the law and the gospel, receive forgiveness of their sins, baptize THEIR babies, and give food and water to the poor and hungry of the world.

Sometimes as I sit and hold Jonah, I think about what he might turn into. As I sing to him, I pray “Lord, make this child strong and faithful.” As I bring him with me to take muffins to our older friend from church, I think to myself “see, Son, this is what we do. This is how we BE the gospel to the world.” I hope he catches on. I hope he sees through the Five Little Monkeys Jumping on the Bed to know that the Hope of the World is living in our hearts. I hope the smiley faced pancakes show him the face of Jesus and his homemade overalls show him the covering Christ offers for his sins. I hope as I rock him and sing to him, he feels the hands and voice of Jesus. I hope my whispers of love are the echoes of the Holy Spirit's.

I will gladly trade my year-old title of “bride” for that of Mom, because I trust that sooner or later this death will bring forth a new title – “mother of the bride” and then “grandmother of the bride”. It’s that death that brings life.

So, goodbye old self. Bury yourself in leaves and dirt and yesterday’s Frito bag in the yard. I can’t wait to see what you’re going to turn into. 

When you come by my house, you might hear Skinnamarink and the state capitals and maybe occasional disciplining and the hum of the dishwasher. But I hope what you smell is rot – compost. And I hope, if you check back in 20 years you will hear Skinnamarink in my daughter’s house next door. 


  1. "What’s getting buried? Our pride. Our desire to not be embarrassed. Our time. Our energy. Our self-absorbed prayer life. Our quiet. Our solitude as a couple."

    Yes, those things and more! I'll add- our mental peace, our ability to think in complete thoughts whenever we want to, our youthful ignorance about the scary-ness of this broken world and how it can (will) hurt those we love. Also, the "right" we have to our own bodies (the right it felt like we had!) Nothing like a pregnancy and nursing to help that "right" to start to die... and I'm realizing that as my kids get older, it's not a "right" i should be trying to take back, really. My body (time, and self) are still FOR them.

    And when they no longer need my body (because that day will come!) I will be that much closer to being fully remade... and God will have me pouring out in some other way (grandbabies...can you imagine!)

    Goodbye leaves- God, keep on doing your work!

  2. Also, if your daughter's house is really right next door, you will be blessed indeed. I feel like mine are getting ready to scatter to the ends of the earth!
    (another stripping... sigh.)


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