Friday, November 8, 2013

Glimpses of Beauty in the Lingering Ugly

It's four months and counting since the flood. Time does fly. We have yet to begin repairs on our home, but feel we are close to beginning. As we contemplate Christmas in our 400 sq ft trailer, we remember that we are starting from scratch with the Christmas decorations. I'm contemplating whether we should get a tree this year. Will we sacrifice our already slender play area for the beautiful symbol of Christmas? The boys think a mini tree might work, but one boy is concerned about how we will fit all the presents underneath!

There are so many things weighing on my mind lately--so many things unfinished or unknown. I am thankful that God has been teaching me to celebrate the little things in life. Far too often I dwell on things unchangeable or not yet happened, but I am beginning to see the importance of engaging in the present, slowly and thoughtfully.

Each accomplished step in an ongoing project completed. Celebrate.

A special conversation with one of my boys. Give thanks.

A mealtime feast surrounded by faces that I love. Breathe deep. Praise God.

There is always a tension between anticipation and contentment. The load of the future can crush the joy of today. Learning to be content with things being unfinished is difficult. Thankfully, God's mercies are new every morning. (Lam. 3)

But lately I've been bothered by this question: How hard should we fight against the effects of 'the fall'? That rebellion in the garden has real consequences for us today. Surely we should not be complacent about sin. But illness, storms and aging are also consequences of fallen creation so in a certain sense it seems appropriate to fight against them as well.

But when do we cross a line and attempt to usurp the role of Jesus Christ--the One who entered our sin-broke world and began a new creation? Do we think that we can do better than him? Are we trying to create heaven on earth when He has promised us a temporary cross?

At times, I ache with the tension of "the now and not yet." Jesus has begun his new creation, but it is yet to be complete. I long to squirm out of the discomforts of the moment. The effects of sin constrain me and put me in a narrow place. (literally and figuratively!)

But what if we are not meant to be free of it? It's the bitter that makes the sweet so sweet. The sorrow that makes the joy so precious. As food tastes so much better after fasting and the sun's rays warm the soul after weeks of grey. In the same way, foretastes of hell make eternity with Jesus so much more precious. New Creation has broken into the present and my soul glimpses the beauty even in the lingering ugly.

It takes practice to see good in the difficulties--to be intentional about noticing tokens of grace. But can a person who has been blessed with a glorious inheritance act as if she is in poverty. The tokens and foretastes are everywhere if we slow down enough to see.