(Note to the unknowns who read this blog: I haven’t abandoned my study on the five love languages…I just keep wanting to post interruptions. Please don’t give up on me, if you’re looking forward to those posts!)
Today would have been my mother’s 57th birthday, if we hadn’t lost her four years ago.
You see…I also happened to have just finished reading a book today that is unlike any other book I’ve ever read. I don’t know if Mom would have enjoyed it or not…but I do believe that she understood one of the lessons this book paints.
You see, Notes From the Tilt-A-Whirl is a word-artist’s attempt to portray the world as God’s masterpiece. Its subtitle is “Wide-Eyed Wonder in God’s Spoken World,” and that wonder is something that Mom understood.
She also understood that life as we know it is only a reflection of something much larger and more complete…something that began before time existed and will continue throughout eternity. As this author so eloquently portrays, God’s paintbrush is His spoken words, and the world and all of human history is His masterpiece. His novel. His painting. His poem.
My mother’s death is a shadow in that painting. A tree whose last season has ended.
Many people struggle with accepting death. And yet, because of who Mom was, I do not. It’s no fun…but it’s part of life. A part not to be feared, if you know your Savior. A part not even to be questioned, if you believe as I do.
Think about this. An author would look quite strangely at a character who leaped from the pages and began asking him what right he had to make him poor and crippled. As the author of the book I read asked, “Would Pride and Prejudice be improved by throwing away every page prior to the resolution, by erasing every character flaw, every misunderstanding and dispute?”
Of course it wouldn’t! Yet isn’t that what we sometimes tell God He should do with His story, both past, present, and future?
And what broken branch, lying under the snow on the ground, looks up at the painter who painted her and asks why he didn’t paint her full of leaves on the tree above. Does she dare to blame the painter for the cold and ice and bitter wind? The painter has decided the season. That is that. And again, as this author puts it, “Could we improve this picture? How can we make it not better, but best? Remove the tension and the contrast. Remove the black. All of it. Remove the struggle and the inevitable end. Leave the white. Only white. And now it is perfect. Perfectly blank.”
Does that make you look at life’s struggles differently?
In the midst of my study for my Quality Time post, I was struck by something David said. Or rather, I was struck by the attitude that his statement portrayed.
In 2 Samuel 15, David finds himself running for his life. Again. Only this time it’s not from his father-in-law or a neighboring king. By now, he has reigned securely on the throne of Israel for years. Decades, perhaps. Until his own son gets ideas.
Absalom conspired (and succeeded) in winning the hearts of a vast portion of Israel, including some of David’s advisers. And when he’d decided he’d won enough of them, he rode into Jerusalem to take the throne.
And David fled. He knew that a king is only as strong as those who are loyal to him.
Had David done anything wrong in this story? Perhaps. That depends on whether parenting skills factored into the equation. BUT…this was not a judgment of God on him. This was simply a beloved and powerful son in total rebellion.
What struck me was David’s response. He didn’t rail against God or blame Him, asking, “Why did You allow this to happen to me?” He didn’t judge God–either for what He’d allowed or for not protecting him.
Instead, he said, “If I find favor in the sight of the Lord, then He will bring me back again. But if He should say, ‘I have no delight in you,’ behold, here I am. Let Him do to me as seems good in His sight.“
Does that seem as remarkable to you as it does to me? David not only believed that absolutely everything was under God’s control, but he accepted anything that might come his way as being good in God’s sight. He didn’t even bother himself with the reality that getting killed by your son isn’t exactly something that could be considered good in man’s sight. He knew how very little man’s opinion on things really mattered.
And that concept brings me back to what this author was talking about…that the history of the world is God’s novel–His-story. We are its characters. We cannot choose the scenes we have been placed in, and we cannot control the characters around us. We can’t control when we enter and exit the stage. The only thing we can control is the type of character we will be.
I’ll share his challenge:
Do you dislike your role in the story, your place in the shadow? What complaints do we have that the hobbits could not have heaved at Tolkien? You have been born into a narrative, you have been given freedom. Act, and act well until you reach your final scene.
My mother reached her final scene, and I will say that she played her part well.
What about me? What about you?
What about the scene we are currently in? And will we choose to act well?