For the past 6 weeks or so, I’ve had an unusual set of experiences. Traveling back to the Himalayan mountains, excluded. Which is as weird to write as it is to read, that is to say – take those days in the mountains out of the equation. These other recent days – the bookends of that trip – will be remembered as some of the most harrowing, yet peaceful days of my life.
I was trying to describe them to a good friend and brother over barbecue pizza today at lunch. My passion for my topic was evidenced by the several bites taken from my lunch, against the backdrop the a nearly finished lunch of my associate. I was talking…a lot.
Most of the stories touched back to a single theme – being out on a scary branch, alone, with God. Being asked to trust him for things with impressions left behind by my white knuckled grip. Not small “gonna trust you with my weight loss goals”, stuff, either. The kind of things that involve test results coming from the hospital in the male. The kind of trust where you stare at an empty corporate account on Friday, watching for a PayPal post.
And I shared a thought with my friend that I’ll share today. I’ve been the happiest I’ve been in recent memory. Like, “if my heart stops beating right now, and I go home to be with Jesus, today was enough”, happy.
My favorite moment of the last month involved sitting on my porch with my wife Karen, eating lunch, on a week day. We’d visited Whole Foods together that morning, and the visit had transformed into an impromptu date – complete with giggles, held hands, and the inappropriate tasting of things in bins when no one was looking. Looking at everything in the refrigerated cases – and coming home with a small lunch that we took out onto the porch, as we ate it slowly and watched fat clouds drift by on a just below too warm, breeze….just. talking.
After lunch, I drove with Karen to pick up our kids at school. Seeing their faces light up as they jumped into the truck – yelling and thrashing about this person or that test and vying for our attention and affection…a beautiful cacophony of noise and quibbles and mommy daddy this or that. Staring back into their bright eyes and saying, “Oh yeah?”, and “Mmmm…interesting.” in-between their over sized sentences as they came up for short bursts of air, trying not to laugh myself as I discerned how seriously the lack of a certain flavor cookie at lunch was, in reality.
On these days – and there have been many in the last 6 weeks – I have felt my truest happiness in recent memory. The only cost to be paid for such joy has been excruciating trust in a book on my nightstand. Obedience to the request-impressions on my mind’s eye answered by both serendipitous and improbable leading and prayer perfect circumstances.
These faith jumps have brought everything I thought I knew about life, marriage, employment, and even “c”hurch, into question. Layers and years of preconceptions have fallen away like dead skin after a bad sunburn. You lament the pain from the burn, but as a kid you loved peeling away the little flaky bubbles and exposing the tender tanned skin below (I did, anyway).
I understand more than ever that being a “slave to Christ” brings with it unspeakable freedom and joy – with only one line of fine print in the redemptive contract.
“Believe. Like a child.
I’m infamous for my wordiness. Detrimentally so, I think. So today, just that thought in the air blowing loosely like a dandelion seed. Today, the thought of being happy – knowing who I am in Him….how important you are to me – and to Him, and how perfectly this works when we come together and trade in our excuses and finally believe…this thought is enough, and perfect, and stands alone.