Monday, February 7, 2011

Held Together

The sun is still shining when I finish work that day, but I know it won't last much longer.  The shadows are growing deeper in the front garden with just a few patches of light still lingering.   As I walk through the house, I catch a glimpse of something out the back window.  It's the Ribes sanguineum 'Alba,' just coming into bloom, bathed in a stream of late-afternoon sun.

I run upstairs to grab my camera, find the right lens, check the power left on the battery.  I don't even stop to put on a coat before hurrying outside to capture the fleeting perfection I had seen through the glass.  As I bring the camera to my face, settle the viewfinder on a cluster of tiny white flowers, I breathe in deep.


This plant I grew with my own hands, from a twig the length of one hand, now stands taller than me and full of blooms, full of life, full of hope.


And somehow, standing here in the chill of the fading winter sun--this life, this hope reaches into my soul and floods me with joy.  I want to memorize the moment.


And that's the moment when I start to wonder.  Why is it that I never doubt the changing of seasons, the growing and blooming of living things, the signs of life in the middle of darkest winter days, the returning of spring after even the hardest of winters?  Why do I trust this order of creation more than I trust in the goodness of my God, the faithfulness of His love for me?

At first I tell myself it's because I can see this faithfulness of the seasons.  The way summer always follows spring, the way autumn always turns the ordinary of green into the brilliance of red and orange and yellow, the way winter never has the final word, the way tiny blooms brave snow and ice and harshest winds to shout, "Hope is here!  Spring is coming!"  I have seen it with my own eyes, time and time again.

But then I remember.

I have also seen His faithfulness and His goodness.  The way He takes ashes and turns them into something beautiful, the way He uses brokenness to strengthen who we are, the way He brings good things from even the darkest days of our lives, the way He takes us back into His arms after even our worst moments.  Yes, I have seen this, too.  With my own eyes, time and time again.

So why, then, is it far easier for me to trust in creation than in the Creator Himself?

I think I know.

Although the same Goodness, the same threads of Faithfulness run beneath all of life, they rarely appear in the same way twice.  He rarely appears in the same way twice.  And I wonder at the mystery of the God Who never changes but always shows up differently.

I settle on an answer that is more true than deep:  I am small.  And God is big.

Yes, my God is the Creator of all things.  But He is so much more than that.  "Creator" is only one small piece of one very big God.

And in my broken humanity, I am too small to comprehend the fullness of this God Who exceeds everything I will ever know about Him.  This isn't inherently a bad thing.  It means I am held and loved by One Who is bigger and stronger and wiser and more full of goodness than I will ever be.

But this inability to know the God I love, this uncertainty in how He will show up in my life, this fear that something worth hiding from lurks in the fullness of the God I can't comprehend--it all leaves me trembling under the weight of mystery, doubting the depth of His love, questioning whether all the harshness of this life is truly upheld and bound together by His goodness.

I stand there a little longer, watching the bloom clusters open their petals to a quickly fading sun.


 And that's when I hear Him, showing up in this quiet moment on a winter's afternoon.
[Christ] is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn over all creation.  For by Him all things were created: things in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or powers or rulers or authorities; all things were created by Him and for Him.  He is before all things, and in Him all things hold together. (Colossians 1:15-17)
I repeat the words again in my head.  In Him all things hold together.  The faithfulness of the created order, the certainty of spring's return, the hope-filled blooms bursting forth from winter's heavy hand--they are held together by the One Who holds me, too.  They are faithful because He is faithful

Even as I grab hold of this glimpse into the mystery, this truth that speaks of things I have yet to fully know, I am certain the journey has only begun.  I am still finding my way in this counting of His graces, His goodness, His fingerprints in everyday places.  But there is now one thing He has whispered loud and clear:  By this endeavor, I am learning to trace the threads of His faithfulness through the pages of my life, to open my eyes to see His goodness no matter how differently or unexpectedly it shows up.

Because in Him all things hold together.

In Him I am held together.

And I am so very grateful for the holding.





#87  Cold air, brilliant sun, blue sky--a perfect winter day

#88  Mending of relationship

#89  Lighthearted conversation after too much heaviness

#90  The giddy anticipation as I watch the amaryllis buds grow taller by the day

#91  Hellebores blushing pink beneath glossy green leaves

#92  Sunshine and clear skies three days in a row

#93  The turning of the calendar page to a new month

#94  Ribes sanguineum bursting into bloom this first week of February

#95  Afternoon sun landing on tiny white blooms, filling my soul with joy

#96  The feel of a new book in my hands--crisp pages, smooth cover, high hopes for soul mending

#97  Purple ink staking a claim in the new book, letting me take words to heart and life

#98  Medicine for kitties, to make the itching stop

#99  Spring bulbs in tiny plastic pots, announcing Joy in the grocery store parking lot

#100  The scent of hyacinth blooms opening in still-cold air

#101  For a glimpse into the mystery of His goodness and my recurring struggle to trust it

#102  For being held together

#103  For the One Who does the holding

2 comments:

  1. oh friend, i needed to read this today. this is beautiful, not only in the pictures, but in the reminder that He is faithful.

    and to think how hard it is to trust because He never shows Himself the same way twice - i never thought of it like that before - but how exciting to begin to look for Him in the unpredictability of that same faithfulness.

    thank you.

    love you.

    ReplyDelete
  2. yes, He is big and we are small, frail and human, it's just too much to comprehend. Trust in Him, for he is trustworthy. Amazing plant and picture!

    ReplyDelete