Thursday, February 11, 2010

Aprons, aprons, all in a row...

Something extraordinary happened to me in the days surrounding my birthday... so extraordinary that I must put it to pen and "peter" (computer in Aud-speak).

The month of January had Dutch working day and night, with hardly a moment's rest. Fourteen uninterrupted days of morning, afternoon and bedtime routines left me deflated. I felt a bit like a hamster on a wheel, running my legs off with no hint of a change in scenery.

Four days before my birthday, I was dragging my body around, simply waiting for naptime to arrive. But when it did, and I had the opportunity to sit down and write, I was too tired... So instead I read a few pages out of Kenneth Grahame's charming book, "The Wind in the Willows." Inspired, I went back to my writing - a children's story about a mother bunny and her daughter - but once again my lids began to droop.

This time I tried to lie down but I couldn't sleep so instead I went to the Lord and simply poured my heart out to Him, asking why He gave me such a longing to write when I can spend so little time, practically, doing it.

And do you know what He did? He is so good. He showed me something from the story of Abraham that I had never seen before. Bear with me as I attempt to relay it:

Soon after Abraham receives the call to leave family and country and enter the land of Canaan, the Lord speaks to him.

God tells Abraham, who possesses no land of his own, to look north and south, east and west, for "All the land that you see I will give to you and your offspring forever." Not only so, God promises Abraham, who at this late time in his life is still childless, that his offspring will be as numerous as the dust of the earth.

"Go, walk through the length and breadth of the land," the Lord says, "for I am giving it to you." Immediately I thought of Dutch, how he loves to walk the length of our land, envisioning the house he will build and the views he will be able to take in from every nook and corner. I imagined that Abraham, too, must have harbored a deep longing to take possession of the land; that he may have looked out upon it and imagined watching his children run and shriek with laughter as they played along the dusty, desert hills.

But Abraham did not take possession of the land immediately. Instead, much time and difficulty was to spring up between God's promise and its fulfillment.

A war developed between the kings of the land - four kings and their armies went to battle against five. In this great upheaval Abram's nephew Lot was seized; and Abraham went, with 318 of his men, to rescue Lot, along with his household and possessions.

Soon after this time of instability the word of the Lord comes to Abraham in a vision: "Do not be afraid, Abram," the Lord says, "I am your shield, your very great Reward."

As I read through this passage I sensed the whispering voice of the Spirit saying, "Heather, you long to 'take possession of the land' - to write and express yourself - but I want you to understand that I am your reward. I am your treasure. I have given you the desire to write - but that is not where your hope is to be: Your hope and satisfaction are to be in ME."

As I began to meditate on this truth I found my mind wandering back to my little story about the mother bunny and her daughter. In my mind's eye I began to see the mother bunny working busily in her kitchen. Yes, I decided, she loves to cook and bake and she is compiling all her recipes to put into a book but she never has time to finish the book because she is always interrupted by someone - child, neighbor, or friend - who is hungry.

I suddenly realized how the story should end; and the thought occurred to me that the ending might also be God's message to me for this phase of my life. "Now is not the time to 'finish compiling your recipes,'" I sensed Him saying, "It is not the time to type them up perfectly, package them up and ship them off. Now is the time to test them. And - listen closely, now - the process of testing the recipes is more important than the actual book. What is more, the people who get to enjoy the meals, and you who have the opportunity to be trained by them, are infinitely more important than anything you might have to say about them afterward."

All the next day - through dishes and diapers, frenzied errands and combing out tangles - I kept reminding myself, whenever a hint of discouragement crept into my brain: "Heather, now is the time to test your recipes, and to find your satisfaction in Christ. He is your treasure, your very great Reward."

When I arrived home I found a package on my doorstep - a birthday box from my dear sister, come a few days early.

I brought it inside and put it on the table, thinking I would save it for my birthday. But each time I walked by, something kept whispering to me, "Wait until naptime and then open it. Open it. Open it!"

The moment the girls' heads were on their pillows I sat down with a cup of coffee and a day-old croissant... And after I had lifted the tissue paper and unfolded the wrapping...what did I find? A gorgeous toile apron with a beautiful robin's egg blue velvet ribbon cut across the waist...but what is more I found a tangible confirmation of the message God had given me - to embrace that fact that this time in my life is to be spent primarily serving others, "testing recipes," so to speak, that is, living out the lessons He is teaching me in order to prepare me to better write about them.

I almost couldn't believe it, almost wouldn't believe it - until, over the proceeding seven days, I received two more packages - each from a dear friend who said, "I found this before Christmas and instantly thought of you."

Each package contained yet another... gorgeous... apron.

Coincidence? Some might say. But I don't think so.

And as Dutch reminded me, with tears in his eyes, as I held up my third apron with a look of absolute and total incredulity, "Whenever God wants to emphasize something he says it three times: "Holy, holy, holy, is the Lord God Almighty."

I most humbly agreed.


Kathy said...

Heather, your life and your precious treasures of insight are infinitely beautiful! Happy birthday. I love you.

Mrs Bic said...

They ARE so beautiful!

Mom said...

Isn't God good to remind us of his wise purposes for all we do.....everyday. Once, twice, three times. You fill in so much life and color to the Baker family.

Shilo Taylor said...

I simply cried at this post. How parallel and yet different our lives continue to be. Seeing you in 3 beautiful aprons gives me such hope for my own recipes. Love,

Lindsay said...

Totally crying right now!!....with goosebumps...

Jordan said...

This should be read far beyond the reaches of any blog. You found such stunning truth here. Thank you.