Thursday, July 28, 2011

Itsy Bitsy

The itsy bitsy spider went up the water spout”

I learned the rhyme as a child, as have Anglophone children for generations. But now, I begin to wonder.

“Down came the rain and washed the spider out.”

Childhood chores included demolishing webs in the porch rails—swept aside by broom bristle. Childhood tales of boyish bravery featured the dauntless and cruel youths who would maim Daddy Long Legs, subduing the creatures to a painful death by de-limbing.

And childhood terrors rekindle like shadows from smouldering embers: the dreaded barn spiders, big as a marble cob, with horrible, short legs; haunting doorway corners with grotesque predictability. These were the worst to kill; so messy, so dangerous, so consequential.

We’re always brushing the pests aside, spaying them with poisonous fumes, cursing their defacement of our carefully cleaned edifices.

And yet, there’s something innately wonder-full about them; something that makes us pause and gape at the webs, the egg sacs, the suspended larders.

“Out came the sun and dried up all the rain.”

Threads of gold in sunlight, interwoven to create organic lace: the spiders spins and weaves all day. She never tires. She never bores of her task. She never does anything else. She toils and makes and remakes webs all her life. And the sun shows off her labour of obedience.

” And the itsy bitsy spider went up the spout again.”

Her life seems so small, so trite; the monotony of her existence baffles human understanding. Maybe that is why we marvel, even in annoyance and inconvenience. Because there is something about doing what you were meant to do, and being who you were meant to be, and just living fully for the pleasure of your Creator that calls deep to our soul.

And in all her littleness and futile projects, she knows only pleasure, because she lives for His glory.

How much grander for us who are given the privilege of choice, and the power of saving grace, to live for the pleasure of our Redeemer.

” There are four things which are little on earth, but they are exceedingly wise:

The ants are a people not strong, yet they prepare their food in the summer;

The rock badgers are a feeble folk, yet they make their homes in the crags;

The locusts have no king, yet they all advance in ranks;

The spider skilfully grasps with its hands; and it is in the king’s palaces.

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

On the other side of the bog

Sometimes the only lesson we learn is that we don’t know much at all.

I’d rather blame the instruction manuals, the circumstances, people, and events that shape my days and form my patterns. But externals were never meant to define the inner soul. If they could, we would only need a set of behavioural guidelines and we would be fine.

Textbooks cannot make me love what is good and glory in what is beautiful and treasure what is precious. Only God can do that.

His work starts by strong hints to the heart that there is something better than what I experience, something more, a beauty and glory beyond me.

And His work continues with inklings, urges, signposts telling me “Wrong Way,” all along the winding path of common sense.

Hunger for transcendence, dissatisfaction with terra firma: these two desires play in harmony on the soul, comforting and chaffing, pricking and gnawing, inviting and repulsing . . . all in a single breath.

Without God echo, soul would wither and shrivel in despair and shame. And without stinking wreckage of man’s folly strewn over the footpath, soul would careen to ultimate demise.

Checks and guards, some painful prodding, sometimes yanking away from foolish tributaries . . . this Shepherded journey leads on: a clear trail home carved around faulty, treacherous footpaths.

And in the pain of the rod, the discomfort of staff, the upsetting of foregone conclusions about life and living, one comfort repeats: He is with me.

“Your rod and Your staff comfort me.”

“I will fear no evil, for You are with me.”

“You have hedged me behind and before, and laid Your hand upon me.”

P.S. I wrote this a week ago, but let it simmer and stew a while before posting . . . still smarting from a Divine spanking, bashful at the undoing, healing power of Grace, and just not sure about words in this busyness.

Saturday, July 9, 2011

When You Stumble Over Yourself

Maybe it’s the start-of-summer slump. Maybe it’s the letdown from busy weeks preceding. Maybe it’s the dread of mounting lists and deadlines, and all the items I could, and really should add to them.

Maybe it’s just me, the only one who feels this way. And I shouldn’t feel this way, and that makes me feel worse.

And I know I must fight feeling with feeling, but the scales are out of balance, the tank is empty.

I keep checking it, wondering where the leak is, but I can’t get perspective to see around and within. And the sad truth haunts me: even if I found the problem, I can’t fix it.

I’m stuck.

And His word comes: “And the grace of our Lord is exceedingly abundant, with faith and love which are in Christ Jesus.”

It stings, because I’m not living in that sphere, I’m wallowing in the fumes of my impotent efforts.

It smarts, because God is rich, and I, His child, am stuck in soul-poverty, and it’s my own fault.

It strains, because it stretches my neck up, around, beyond my slough, to the One Who’s with me, above me, victorious.

And in this moment, I must decide: do I reject Him, because I’m so ticked that He can walk in this mire without stumbling, or do I extend pathetic arms to touch His outstretched hands?

To accept Him acknowledges that I’m wrong, and weak, and foolish. I am a beggar. And He is good.

To refuse Him denies His power and my weakness, and sinks me into folly, utterly.

So what’s a soul to do? Surely, the most sensible thing is to struggle out of the slough on the arm of Christ.

Joy is a fight . . . and a celebration. We who belong to Jesus must grip this conundrum, balance the reality of foolish humanity and merciful Providence. We can analyze, scrutinize, test it, but at the end of the day, we must hold it, this amazing grace.

“My eyes are ever toward the LORD, for He shall pluck my feet out of the net.” Psalm 25:15

Photos courtesy of Lauren Carswell

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