Wednesday, November 22, 2017

I dare you to notice

Lord, open my eyes, I pray as if my life depends on it.

The eyes of my heart do not naturally see this place as God sees, and even when they do see, they tend to shut again.  I am prone to sleepiness, to forgetfulness, to blindness.

Father, help me to see.

She asked me to braid her hair before service, so I did, and it was not perfect but she loved it anyway.  She does that with everyone, everything, with the exception (sometimes) of herself. Lord, her eyes seem to see better than my own, but keep on opening them. Continue the work You have begun.  Beside me at church, she sings, "I know that my Redeemer lives."  Her voice always takes my breath away.  In it I hear such joy, and the joy has a way of highlighting the shadows. (Or is it the other way around?) She is grace, and her voice is grace, and this moment when I can see the grace in the gifts... that is grace, too.

Oh friends, there are so many things to be done!  It is no challenge to see the WORK in this place! And this seeing leads to doing, to conquering, or at least trying to conquer.   I excel at conquering. If fact, I can do it with my eyes closed.

I wouldn't recommend this.

The eyes of my heart: if they are not forced open, they see only the work that the children create, only the messes and the unchecked lists and the imperfections in this home.  They see ugliness, and proof of failure on my part, or theirs, or both.

Lord, open my eyes.

God gives me time-outs, and He forcibly pries open my eyes.  Sitting in a pew, or under a sick child, I am forced to SIT, to be still and open ears and eyes.  I fight the stillness, but not as hard as I once did. I know that stillness is soul medicine.

I am starting to learn when I need to give myself a time-out.  When I've been working blind and my head is sore from crashing into those things which I refuse to see... then, it is time be still.

Writing (and lately, painting) is a way for me to slow down and notice.  Making art is a way of collecting the gifts, tracing my fingers along the edges, savoring, and giving thanks.  My gratitude journal is open again.  There are too many gifts to record, but I capture a few, and they are precious to me.

Yet even creative expression can become narrow, if I merely look around me at the awful beautiful life in this world. Truly, I am surrounded by grace, but the greatest gifts give me by my lavish God are those I cannot see.

Paul prays for hearts unsatisfied and blind like mine:

I pray that the eyes of your heart may be enlightened, so that you will know what is the hope of His calling, what are the riches of the glory of His inheritance in the saints, and what is the surpassing greatness of his power toward us who believe.  (Eph 1:18-19)

Our Jesus-- what He has done for us, what He is doing now, and what He plans for the future-- HE is what the eyes of our hearts so long to see.  He is the Gift to which all others point. He is the final proof that our God is a God of extravagant grace and boundless mercy.

There is often grief mixed in with the noticing, when I consider the flower or the daughter in bloom and remember the dust to which all things return.  The dust makes me afraid to notice, to open my heart to things that shall crumble.

But, stay with me. Look with me. Do not close your eyes.

Zoom out.

Consider the whole picture. Consider the God who created the world and entered the world and died for the world and is making all things new. Consider His Story, and our small place in it.  Consider your life given, by grace, and the new life we have in Christ, by grace, and the promises of life eternal that are ours, by the grace of God in Christ Jesus.

Suddenly, the shadows look smaller. And we see that they are temporary.

But God, being rich in mercy, because of His great love with which He loved us, even when we were dead in our transgressions, made us alive together with Christ (by grace you have been saved), and raised us up in Him, and seated us with Him in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus, so that in the ages to come he might show the surpassing riches of his grace in kindness toward us in Christ Jesus.  (Ephesians 2:4-7)

What does God want to do with us?
He wants to use us.
To conquer the world? To overcome sin and death?
No, He has done that in Christ.

He wants to use us to show the world the surpassing riches of His grace. 

He wants us to live with open hands and open eyes, and to receive.
To see.
To take Him in.

He is the great gift, and each one of His other gifts are a drop from the same fountain.
Be still today, and notice.

Trace your fingers along the edges of the gifts.
Write, paint, sing, or knit about it if you like.
The laundry will be there when you're done.

My laundry was there yesterday, after the sick little boy finally fell asleep.  It is undone, because he just "really really needed mommy snuggles." I rested with him, on top of the covers, but he knows me too well. He knew I'd get up and run away the second he started snoring. So he moved closer, put my arm behind my head, and nestled into my breast.  He would not allow me to leave unnoticed.

I noticed his noticing, and I did not run away when I heard the sleepy snores.  I lingered in the noticing, staying close to the needy little one for just a little longer.  In my mind I saw him grow from baby to toddler in a blink.  I zoomed out, and saw God's hand forming him, taking care to give him that adorable pinky toe and those deep dimples.  I saw his spirit come alive in the waters of Baptism, the flood of grace waking his deepest parts.  I saw soul food in the form of a sunday school picture of Jesus, and I heard a little voice learning sing-song praises.  I saw God's sustaining care, from birth to the moment he needed "mommy snuggles," and I saw how God gave them to Him, granted him rest in this moment, in my imperfect arms.  I thought of our sabbath rest to come, and I rested then.

The tasks truly can wait while you let God restore your sight.

In Him we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of our trespasses, according to the riches of his grace, which He lavished on us.  (Eph 1:7-8a)

Lord, open our eyes, we pray, because our lives truly do depend on it.

I dare you to notice.

originally posted 4/14

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