|In the interest of full disclosure, I took this pictures several|
years ago in Africa. But trying to snap iphone shots while
behind the wheel is really dangerous, and frowned on by
my company. But, it looked like this.
Every day when I come home from work, I find Jellybean peering from under the kitchen table, and Buckley? He presses his nose to the gap where the door hinges and sniffs the great outdoors. Always at the back edge of the door instead of the open part. I'm torn between wanting to show him the main opening where he can sniff all he wants, and being glad I don't have to worry about him getting out. But I do open the patio door when its nice and let him sit by the screen, watching for bugs he can tray to catch through the mesh.
It makes me think about expectations, though. For Buckley, the front door opens one inch wide, and if you lean close, you can sniff the outside air. His view is so small.
I was talking with someone yesterday about the strange phenomenon of blessings. For me, nature, and specifically the beach, is always special. And seeing the humpback whales was like the mother of all blessings. For this other person, it is seeing rays of sunlight streaming through the clouds in that way they show in movies, where the light cuts through the dim in precise, powerful bands.
You know how when something good happens, we almost expect something bad to follow? It feels like, I don't know, the balance of life will counteract the wins with equal amounts of losses.When something goes right, even in that joy, there's this tinge of dread that mars the moment as we wait for the left shoe to drop.
What an awful idea. And not Biblical. What if Jeremiah 29:11 said, "For I know the plans I have for you. Plans to prosper you half the time and to harm you the other half. Plans to give you some hope and a moderate future."
But it doesn't. Praise Jesus, it doesn't.
"For I know the plans I have for you," declares the Lord, "Plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future. Then you will call upon me and come and pray to me, and I will listen to you. You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart. I will be found by you," declares the Lord.
I admit that, having had such a splendid time on vacation--did I mention I saw whales?--a sense of foreboding settled over me. As the pessimistic saying goes, the higher you are, the farther you have to fall. But like I said, I was talking to someone who is wiser than I and saw through that wretched perspective.
God is a giver of good and perfect gifts. He is one hundred percent generous. He is not worried that we'll have too much joy, or get more than our fair share of happiness. He doesn't withhold goodness until it can be blended with a little bad. He isn't into balance at all. He freaking gave his Son to die for an undeserving world with no no big, scary but waiting. Just the biggest, best, richest, most mind-blowing gift ever given.
Do bad things still happen to good people? Yes. To Christians? Yes. But God is not an abusive parent backhanding his children with evil, so they will need him to bandage the wound. He is far to wonderful, glorious, to Him, to need any such manipulation in order to incur praise.
God doesn't drop left shoes. He drops two right ones. He is pure. He is good. He is unchanging. And when that bad comes, even then He is walking with us, kissing wounds inflicted by life, and in the midst of that, giving good gifts.
My view is so small. Like Buckley, I tend to cover my eyes and peer through a narrow gap between doubt and fear at what God has offered. Unfortunately, I don't have the excuse of being a cat.
And to fear retribution for happiness? Well, isn't that a brilliant way to keep us from the freedom of resting in, trusting in, and rejoicing over not just the gifts, but the fact that the Giver offered them for no other purpose than to delight us.
As I drove home, I mulled over the conversation with God, tested what it would feel like to shunt dreadful forebodings, to expect good from He who promised it. And then I looked up. Rays of sunlight streamed through the clouds in that way they show in movies, the light cutting through the dim in precise, powerful bands.
You are generous, glorious, a giver of sunlight, whales, and fresh outdoor air. Your gifts are beyond my meager imagination, and I'm so grateful. Thank you mostly for Jesus, that my sweet Savior, strong and brilliant and brave, went to the cross knowing full well what was happening, and loving even more than he hurt. My heart, my life, my all have been won by you. All my love.