Wednesday, May 5, 2010

treading water

Dutch has been out of town five days now; the nap fairy failed to make her ritual visit; so by five o'clock I was sure the sky was set to fall.

Thus to avoid imminent disaster we preyed upon our friends Ella and Kate ... and at my girlfriend's generous insistence, I devoted twenty minutes to trying out their new exercise contraption: a poolside harness that allows you to swim 'in place.' It was a little odd at first - I was far more buoyant than I'm used to – but once I got into a rhythm I was able to lose myself in thought – or the absence thereof.

The only really startling thing, the thing I never really got used to, was that no matter how hard I swum, my view of the sky and the trees didn't change. I pulled and kicked and lunged forward, but there was that harness pulling me backward so that I remained suspended in water. Several small insects and a myriad of unidentifiable particles floated past me, providing unmistakable – and rather disheartening – evidence that I was indeed stationary.

I wanted to laugh - indeed, I did laugh, and took in a bit of water - and then the image suggested itself to me as the perfect metaphor for my life. I spend all day doing all the things that mothers do – “pulling and kicking” - dressing and changing, feeding and cleaning - but no matter how much force I put into it, my scenery doesn't seem to change much. There are the dishes still in the sink. The laundry remains unfolded. Even – by time the five o’clock bell sounds – I have become unfolded. If not for the two sleeping children – clothed and cleaned and nestled into bed – you would assume, by taking a quick glance around 'my rooms,' that I didn't "do" anything all day.

But appearances can be deceiving – in fact, are deceiving. At the end of a long day, my view of the sky may be the same; but I am different. Perhaps not noticeably; no, not at first glance. In fact, the woman getting out of the pool looks identical to the one who waded into it twenty minutes ago. But if you follow her long enough into her future, you will find that she is indeed changing... the exertion of her muscles in this, God’s training course, will produce - by His infinite grace and wisdom - an ever-increasing quality of spiritual fitness… so much so that, at a certain point, those who knew her when she started her journey will find that she has become unrecognizable.

For that, in essence, is what it means to walk with Christ.

By a miracle of His own provident design Christ does for us what Michelangelo did for his David. He uses, indeed, chooses the raw material that comprises our physical circumstances, whatever they may be, to batter us into the shape of the vision - the masterpiece - which He has before the creation of the world set forth for us to be.

“In every block of marble I see a statue as though it stood before me, shaped and perfected in attitude and action," Michelangelo said, when asked how he was able to craft such masterpieces of form and beauty. "I have only to hew away the rough walls that imprison the lovely apparition to reveal it to the other eyes as mine see it.”

So you see? Appearances are deceiving. We look with human eyes upon the figure being formed and conclude it is all wrong – no, no, we say, this cannot be the best method for producing a masterpiece! One must go to all the best places and do all the best things! One shouldn’t get hung up on menial tasks – nor hang about with sickness and weakness and failure – leave those for the ordinary works of art.

Of course, the primary difference between Michelangelo's statues and you and me is that we are living, breathing, beings – and the process of “hewing away the rough walls” is often not only discomfiting, but painful. Which is why we have need of trust – but not the nebulous, imbecile wishfulness that ‘things will turn out right in the end;’ but trust – as solid as marble – in a Person, a God Who not only created us, but Who cares more for us than we can ever think or imagine.

As Oswald Chambers once wrote, “The vision is not a castle in the air, but a vision of what God want you to be. Let Him put you on His wheel and whirl you as He likes, and as sure as God is God and you are you, you will turn out exactly in accordance with the vision. Don’t lose heart in the process. If you have ever had the vision of God, you may try as you like to be satisfied on a lower level, but God will never let you.”

1 comment:

B Dunlap said...

Amazing post, dear Heather....this really spoke to me tonight. I thank God for your gift of words and insight. xo