Sunday, June 10, 2007

He doesn't forget...

I’m thinking about faith. I’m thinking of art. I’m thinking of music and noise and words and all of those things we bump into all day long, and I’m wondering why it is that I find myself being easily irritated with my God lately.

I know that it’s not logical. I know that it’s stupid. I know that there will never be an indictment against Him that will hold water. Not one. And the thing is, it’s like I say: irritation, not anger. I just finished reading a book called Eyewitness at Auschwitz—one of the most explicit accounts of life in a concentration camp—and while my heart cries out to God about the injustice suffered there, I cannot blame Him: even when I walked through the Holocaust museum in Jerusalem, nothing in me questioned His goodness. No, I understood—in so many ways, only half to do with the museum itself—the depravity of man. I recognized that the heart of God was broken at Auschwitz.

I watched my father shuffle across the kitchen the other day, a mark from minor surgery on his face, where a basal cell carcinoma was removed from his chin, the mark of a Parkinson’s patient whose skin becomes more vulnerable to such issues. I do not blame God for the disease that wants to grab my father by the neck and wrestle his strong body to the ground. We live in a fallen world, and my father’s relationship with and understanding of God has come to a place that it has never been before. His paintings are remarkably bright and intense—his teachings full of grace and practical wisdom. His garden blooms under his hand obediently and I know that my God counts my father as a friend—that He has not abandoned him to this disease but is speaking to him through it. He isn’t bitter. His eyes are on God.

But I become irritated with the small things surrounding me. That finances are so, so tight. That our house is so, so small. That things which I believe are natural to expect are not as sure as I thought. That I am concerned about the water bill and Don’s tuition. That I know that I hurt my step-son’s feelings last week and I’m not sure what to do about it. I find myself grumpy and scowling at the sky: where are You, I want to know. Don’t you see that I think I’m developing an ulcer? (hello, Miss Melodrama) Don’t you care?

The heavens are silent. I know why. Because I’m full of crap. I have lived in times of plenty and times of extreme want—and have grown through both. Truth be told, the times of want have produced more fruit than the lean times, I think. Don and I have walked out all of our early years of marriage broke and whole. And I know that I have felt the presence of the Lord the most solidly when things are lean and our relationship has been solidly forged in fire.

Still, selfish girl gets irritated with the most consistently perfect Friend ever when I get uncomfortable. Will I ever grow up? Sometimes I wonder… I suppose that it’s possible that our lives—like the work of an artist—feature us returning again and again to the same theme, the same weakness. As an artist, I return to oranges and flowers over and over again—I want to work them out, make them right. I return to the “Once upon a time” intro in my writing repeatedly—what can I say? I love fairy tales. As a believer, I return to “Don’t you even love me?” more times than I would like to admit. I hope that I do less than I did as a young Christian.

Of course, I’ve repented of my irritation. I came home from a meeting today grumpy and irritated and a little scared about the bills, threw myself down on my bed and shook my fist (internally) at God—and instead of a bolt of lightning knocking me out cold, turning me into a greasy spot on the bed, a litany of blessings marched through my mind. He wasn’t angry for me, but came like a flood to remind me that right this second, it’s alright. Everything is okay. I can’t know what tomorrow will bring, but today—right this second—everything is fine. And He hasn’t taken His eyes away. He knows just where I am. And He hasn’t forgotten me.

This refusal to lower Himself to my level (so to speak) is one of the most amazing things about this God of mine. How He never stomps away from me is mind blowing. The reality of His power is always before me, alongside the living testimony of His grace. How could I worship anyone else?
(above, most recent work.
a commissioned piece
designed after sanctuary
window, CFUMC)

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