Sunday, March 4, 2012

My Heart, His Hands, And the Truth Everyone Must Know

I once had a vision. The image was of a left hand reached out with its palm facing up. Sitting in the palm’s cup, delicately secure , was my heart. Then the right hand reached over and covered the heart. The hands lightly clasped so the heart was mostly hidden from my sight. Then the hands gently started to press and release rhythmically, and my heart began to beat.  These were God’s hands, and only weeks after he first began knitting me together in my mother’s womb, he set my heart to beat.

For years, this recurrent image has been a reminder of the generally temporal nature of this earthly life, and specifically the brevity and fragility of my own life. One day, when God’s purpose for my life has been met, my Lord will squeeze my heart no more.  At that point, my soul will leave my broken body and ascend through the glorious gates of Heaven only because my Savior Jesus has paid my debt in full on the cross and thereby declared me righteous.

Recently this image has revealed a different truth.


This isn’t entirely new for me, of course. This fact is what first drew me to the Lord when I was 17. What was different is what this love looks like. When I thought of how God loves me, I pictured him almost as a caring pet owner and myself as a hamster. In my mind, he would glance at my cage in the midst of thousands of others with a happy grin. Occasionally, I felt like he would even open my cage and give me a new toy to make my life more pleasant. He might even pet my head gently and affectionately, but eventually he would close the cage again and go back to his place where he could keep an eye on the whole population of hamsters.

This is not how God loves us. The idea that God holds each heart in his hand reminds us that God loves us constantly, thoroughly, and intimately. His thoughts and his care are ALWAYS on me. At rest, my heart beats 72 times per minute. So at least 72 times in the past minute the Lord has remembered me, thought of me, cared for me, LOVED ME. That in itself makes my eyes fill with tears. But now consider these statistics:

My heart has beat on average 4320 times in the past hour, 103,680 times in the past day, and 37.8 million times in the past year, and roughly 1.2 billion times in my life. If you want an eye opener, calculate your own number of heartbeats.  That is unfathomable in itself. Now consider that even before there was time, God in his infinite wisdom and omniscience knew who we would be and he loved us. It was this very love for you, for me, for all humanity that he sent his perfect, righteous, and holy son to the Earth to die for our sins, so we might spend eternity with our Father (John 3:16). That kind of love is beyond what we can even understand.

I can tell you, that the little that I do understand is enough. I think back to the best moments, or heartbeats, of my life. When I stood by that waterfall with George asking me to marry him, God was there, squeezing my heart faster and faster, and loving me. When I would check on my sleeping babies and I would come out of their rooms with my hand pressed to my chest because I thought the abundant love and thankfulness in my heart would make it burst out of my skin, God was loving me. I think of my saddest, most lonely, most shameful moments…in the hospital room, on the bathroom floor, in my car on that country road, God was there keeping my heart beating and loving me.

In the past few days since I’ve revisited this image of God holding my heart and making it beat over and over again, I have changed. It is impossible to know how passionately, intimately, devotedly, faithfully, delicately, consistently, abundantly, and irrevocably the Lord loves you and not be changed as a result. How has this knowledge changed you?

Thursday, March 1, 2012

Some Days, You Only Get to Wear One Eyebrow

“I’m going upstairs to put my makeup on, and then we have to go to Braden’s conference,” I announced to the my three boys over the sound of Jake and the Neverland Pirates. I began putting on the “5 minute face” that I learned from Carmindy. The last step was one that I have added. My eyebrow pencil. For the past 16 years, I have used my Revlon Dark Blonde pencil to color in my extremely blond eyebrows and very few people have seen me without it.  After finishing my right brow I heard it.

“MOMMY!” All three boys at once. This is was different than the other “mommy”’s I  hear during the day. This wasn’t  “Mommy, he stole my truck” or “Mommy, I’m hungry” or “Mommy, I need you to wipe me.” It was “Mommy, drop everything and come here now!!!” And that is what I did. Somewhere between my master bathroom and the family room, I dropped my Revlon Dark Blonde Eyebrow Pencil. I rounded the stairs to see my three boys pointing at a pile of dog vomit on the carpet. Then I looked at my lovely yellow lab laying on her bed, looking at me as if to say, “Mommy, the scrambled eggs I ate while table surfing this morning did not sit well in my tummy, but don’t worry…I’m fine now.” Nice, Molly.

In 4 minutes I managed to steam clean the carpet, tie shoes on three children, help put on coats, and race back upstairs to finish my barely visible left eyebrow. I couldn’t find my pencil anywhere, and I had to leave or I would be late for the preschool conference.  I had to give up, buckle my kids in the car and go.

I debated in the car. What is better? One nice, arched, and defined eyebrow and one completely natural? Or one smudged off eyebrow and one natural eyebrow?  I went with the latter, knowing that I probably just made it worse. After coming back from the fantastic conference (Yea, Braden!!!), I still haven’t found that eyebrow pencil.

I know this is silly and it sets me up for comments like “You should feel beautiful without any makeup!” I understand that and I won’t go into the reasons why I still like makeup on this post. This made me come to a different realization.

Sometimes, things just don’t go our way. I’m not talking about getting a horrible phone call regarding a loved one’s diagnosis, noticing the signs of a miscarriage, talking to the police after a car accident, or anything else of a serious nature. We, as Christians, know to turn to God when our world is crumbling around us. The Bible is full of stories where men and women are on the verge of death and they pray to God for his deliverance.

But what about the times when we knock over our water on our phone? Jam our fingers in the bathroom door? Realize the $9.00 worth of chicken we bought has expired? Find a rip in our Spanx? Learn that our children have designated a corner of the basement a bathroom that is not meant to be a bathroom? Yes, these are all true stories from my life.

What do we do then? I tend to cry, mope, or yell, depending on the severity of the frustration. One time  I sat down next to the running vacuum cleaner and just sobbed. Another time, I told my boys through gritted teeth, to go up their rooms until their father got home. I have also been known to yell out to God, “Will you please help me out a little here?!”  

I believe that is exactly what God wants us to do (maybe with a little less sassiness). God wants us to turn to him for help in these moments that make up our lives as well as the big tragedies that change the direction of our lives. Remember when Jesus listened to Martha’s frustration about her dinner party not going so well (Luke 10: 38-42)? What about when the Lord grew a leafy plant in just a few hours to give Jonah shade, even as he sat in his bitterness (Jonah 4:6)? Haven’t you always loved when Jesus tells us he knows every hair on our head and that we are worth more than the ever-cared-for sparrows (Matthew 10:29-31)?

Do your best to keep these moments of God’s faithfulness in mind when your moments are not what you hope for or plan for. And don’t underestimate the power of laughter in getting through the frustrating moments. If the biblical example of the Proverbs 31 woman is lauded for being able to “laugh at the days to come,” then we are surely allowed to laugh at the day that is here!
Now pray for me, that I find that silly eyebrow pencil!