What to Make of Unseasonable Events

What to Make of Unseasonable Events

There’s nothing like snowfall on the first day of spring to remind you that you are not in control.

Snow at this time is unseasonable.

Or so we think.

Every once in awhile our ideas of what is acceptable and what is not are turned upside down. We are forced to accept the unusual. The unpredictable. Even, the unthinkable.

For the last week and a half, that’s where I’ve been sitting with two friends.

A week ago Sunday, in a span of 12 hours, I got two texts from two different women I love, each of them asking me to pray for two women they love, who were suddenly facing their final days.

Even though I had never met them, I had known about Kat and Amy’s* battles with cancer. There were similarities: Both lived in mid-western cities. Both mothers – one of four, the other of two. Both fighting for a couple of years. Both cancers under control for a bit and then shifted dramatically. My friends were getting on planes to go be at bedsides and say goodbyes.

And along with my friends, I have prayed for each one of these ladies diligently.

Lord, please heal her from her infirmity. May she regain her strength, see her children grow up, and become a powerful testimony of your might.

But prayer has multiple purposes, and asking God to stem the tide of a ravaging illness is only one of them. Prayer is also about opening our hearts to God’s love in whatever form it arrives.

Chapter 3 of Ecclesiastes says there is a time for everything. That seems easy enough to accept when life flows through the expected and happy changes: births, graduations, weddings, milestone anniversaries, and deaths following long, full lives.

But when mothers face death in their forties and fifties, leaving behind kids who have not yet reached maturity, we say, “It’s too soon.”

And as much as I have faith that God has a plan for children left behind, and while I KNOW and believe with ALL MY SOUL that He can work good from ANY situation, I sit in the stillness of a snowfall and just wonder why.

This is normal.

Not understanding why is not a sin.

Kat passed on Friday. It seems that Amy has a little time still.

To console myself I keep coming back to this…

“Jesus wept.” (John 11:35)

He was at the tomb of his friend Lazarus and before he worked his miracle of raising his friend from the dead, Jesus wept.

If God knew that Lazarus would die, had a plan to raise him again, and still shed tears over the suffering that death causes in the world, he surely understands our sorrow now.

Our unknowing is the state of vulnerability in which God loves to work miracles.

He wants to show us He’s still here, and always will be.

Though we walk in the silence of an unseasonable snowfall we are not alone.

He sits with us as we cry. Soothes us with the prayers, words, and actions of others. Smiles on us in the beauty of the natural world. Woos us in dreams that gently coax us onward.

And snowy spring days like this one remind me that everything, absolutely everything, happens in His time.

 

*Names have been changed.

Of Books There Is No End….

I love books. Love, love, love books. To look at them, hear and talk about them, collect and share them, and of course, devour them with my mind.

One of my fondest memories of plowing through a big ‘ol stack is from fifth grade. My parents had given me a boxed set of all the Laura Ingalls Wilder books for Chriimagestmas, and I spent the two weeks before I had to go back to school lying on our olive green and harvest gold plaid sofa reading them back-to-back. Those were the days!

Today, I can’t read as voraciously, as the responsibilities of adulthood – and more to it, parenthood – have changed both my priorities and my schedule. Nevertheless, this year I’ve been doing a Reading Challenge with some friends, and have so far read 16 books in a variety of categories. It’s been an intellectual joy to read James Michener for the first time, and to rediscover authors like F. Scott Fitzgerald and Tennessee Williams, whose works I hadn’t laid eyes on in decades. I’ve also read some popular new authors, like Garth Stein and Mitch Albom, and others I think have written modern classics, such as Sue Monk Kidd.

But the most interesting development for me during this little “challenge,” has been that I may not complete it, due to the fact that I can’t stop reading the other books which I’ve found feed me. I’m talking about spiritual reading – by authors like Stasi Eldredge, Ann Voskamp, and Allen Hunt. Their books redirect my thoughts to the higher plane. The place where I am called to live, and move, and have my being.

These authors also send me reaching for God’s Word, because they continuously point to the Source of their souls’ joy, and the more I grow in faith, the more I want to read His words myself.

I have always sensed that there is something more powerful about the Bible than any other book, and that’s probably why I avoided reading it for nearly 35 years. Simple verses here and there, taken out of context, were like sips of water on the tongue. Non-threatening. Ephemeral. Enjoyable for a short time.

But eventually I had bigger questions that only Love could answer. So, when I finally stopping wading in to the Bible only to my ankles, and instead dove in and spent real time swimming around in it, I found it is indeed powerful. Life changing. Living. And best of all – more satisfying than I had EVER imagined.

And my journey into this fascinating tome – the amazing depth and breadth of God’s love story to each of us told through many authors over thousands of years – will never end. For new discoveries can be made every time it is opened. It speaks on the topics of….well, everything. Just today, I happened upon this passage, which prompted me to write this post.

         Of the making of books there is no end, and in much study there is weariness for the flesh.
         The last word, when all is heard: Fear God and keep his commandments, for this is man’s all; because God will bring to judgment every work, with all it’s hidden qualities, whether good or bad.
– Ecclesiastes 12:12-14

Truly, people have and are writing books about everything imaginable. “Of the making of books there is no end.” It’s a colorful, gorgeous world, which begs to be celebrated in the written word. But my flesh grows weary without the sustenance of the Lord. And I am called once again to consider the books with which I spend my time.