Tuesday, May 1, 2012

When You Want To Number Your Days


Life can slip away, run right through our fingers and leave us wondering where all the days have gone--where all the years have gone.

Yes, life can slip away.

And that feeling of time running out, time running away?  Sometimes it makes me want to run away, too.

It's the third week of April when I do my own running, drive straight across state lines with my mom and her cousin to find a bit of reprieve, a bit of time to breath and laugh and create and be.

Because who can really live at all when there's no time or space or strength to just be?

My grandma, she meets us there, too, in that house by the lake full of childhood memories.  We talk late and we laugh long and all of us, we're grateful to leave behind the everyday life for a while.

But it's the second day of our retreat when I wake up early and I feel it here, too--that time's running out, running away and all I want is to shout at the top of my lungs for the whole world to stop turning for just one day.  An hour?  Even one single minute?

There might still be five more days to live here in this hideaway by the lake, but how can I drink deep of this water of rest when I'm busy guzzling down the flood of dread--that sinking dread of returning to the everyday hard and the everyday mundane?  How can a soul even feel the joy of a moment when the head's too full of fearing what comes next?

But isn't this also true--that there'll be no more room for dread or fear or anything else at all if I choose to drink my fill of the here and now, of the God Who Is and all this Love I'm in?

Maybe this is what it means to make a Home in Christ--to stop looking at where we've been and where we're going just to find out what we most need to know.  Because we're searching in all the wrong places to figure out where we are, who we are, and the Truth's been right here all along.  We're in Christ and we are His and He's our Home--and isn't that the only place we want to be?

This life, it might be a marathon of slogging through the mud and pushing past every last aching of the soul.  And the Apostle Paul, he's told us straight out to keep our eyes on the goal--but the thing we keep forgetting?  It's this:  The prize we're reaching, striving, aching for?

It's not the life after this one.

It's Him.

And God, He's not the one way off in the distance, waiting to welcome us at the finish line.  No, He's the One running right beside us, pouring everything He's got into getting us through the race.

The only way to keep our eyes on the prize, keep our eyes fixed on Him?  It's to stop agonizing over a past that's gone and wrestling with a future that's not yet here.  It's to drink our fill of the water He's holding out to us while we run arm in arm--the water of this day, this hour, this very minute.

He's the only One Who can take all the yesterdays and tomorrows and redeem them for His Glory.  And what He's asked of us?  It's to make ourselves at Home in Him today--to settle right into the God Who Is and find He's enough to fill a whole parched life to the brim.

There's only one way I know to grab hold of the now and look it full in the face.  So I pick up a journal on that second day away from home and I count the graces one by one, chronicle the days in Gifts, not Time.  Word by word and minute by minute, I settle into here, settle into Him.

And this is how I finally figure it out--I haven't left Home at all.

Because I couldn't leave Him if I tried.



Over the next several days, I'll be recording my recent travels in words and photos and, yes, maybe even a video or two.  Because this counting of His Gifts, this chronicling of the moments?  It's how I number my days.  It's how I make my home in Him.  It's how I really, truly live.  Join me?



The first day of my trip...

1477.  Bags packed at last, vacation finally here

1478.  Everything loaded in the car, us three women and all our gear

1479.  Memories of last year's adventure drifting back, weather uncannily the same

1480.  All of us keeping eyes peeled for a rainbow since that's the gift He gave last time

1481.  Seeing it at last--that enormous piece of rainbow stretched from the river's edge, four hours into the journey

1482.  Me giddy in the backseat, eyes glued to His gift in the sky

1483.  Belly laughs at the rest stop, all of us refreshed for the last leg of the journey

1484.  Sun setting while we drive through the hills

1485.  Those wisps of cloud radiating vertical from the horizon

1486.  Clear view of snow-laden peak, day's last light landing soft

1487.  Bank of fluffy clouds forming a mountain range all their own

1488.  Those two deer treading on the hillside at dusk

1489.  Reaching our destination as the day finally fade and one star appears

1490.  Grandma waiting for us, house full of warmth and light

1491.  Car unloaded, us settling in to being here

1492.  Talking late into the night

1493.  That one goose honking when I lay down for sleep

1494.  And the whole flock letting me know when it's morning

10 comments:

  1. Well said, my friend. We were gone for 3 days and 2 nights. I didn't want to come home. I always ask husband if we have to go home tonight? Can we stay another night? It's always 'go home' 'no, not another night out'. Maybe it will happen. He knows how I feel though. Sigh! Yes, we need to keep our eyes on the prize set before us, running the race with endurance. When the hard times come, God is there and providing what we need for comfort, shelter, rest and then travelling on with Him, because we don't know what He has for us right around the next bend! Sounds like you had a nice weekend away. That would be so fun with family. Never did that. Hugs!

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    1. @Grandma Becky: Yes, coming home from vacation is *so* hard! I do hope you'll get a nice long time away before too long--it's so refreshing to step out of the everyday routine for a bit. I love how you've described God providing this shelter for us right on the hard road before He asks us to travel on with Him. Like a shepherd gently leading His flock. Grace to you, Friend!

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    1. @Mama Griffith: Thank you, Dear Friend!

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  3. i had been wondering what the lake looked like...thanks for the picture, and looking forward to more pictures and/or videos!

    in your post, i was especially struck by the idea that the prize isn't the next life, but God-in-Christ and Christ-in-us, right here and now. so easy to agree with, and so hard (for me) to remember, and to *live*: thanks for the reminder and encouragement...

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    1. @chris: So it turns out that all these years I *thought* it was a lake, but now that I'm all grown up I realize it's just a reservoir. Ah, well. It sounds so much nicer when you say "lake," so I think I'll keep it up ;o). It really is beautiful, though, especially first thing in the morning--I have some early morning pictures and videos coming and I think you'll really enjoy them.

      That part about Christ being the prize? Yeah, I don't know where that came from because it was *not* in my plan for this post. God is funny that way ;o). I need the reminder often as well, to realize that we've already been given an enormous piece of this prize--redemption, Christ in us, reconciliation with God. Yes, there's more to come--but the life after this one? It wouldn't mean a thing without the ultimate prize--being fully reunited with the triune God. It's a delicate balance between striving for growth and the pursuit of holiness while at the same time resting in Him, having peace regardless of the circumstances. Thankful you found a bit of encouragement here, Friend. Grace, grace, grace to you!

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  4. I'm so, so thankful God gave you that gift of time away, with laughter and fresh beauty to fill your list. That struggle to live in communion with Christ in the present moment is so common, from other blog posts I've read. It's always been tempting to me to dwell on past regrets or that future dread you describe, but it helps to know it's not just me. It's not just you, either, dear one. Thanks be to the Lord for the gift of gratitude to fix your focus and restore your soul.

    I loved the tulip photos and find rest in this peaceful one today. Hooray for more to come! And Godspeed on the computer replacement and starting fresh there. The love of Christ to you, friend.

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    1. @tinuviel: Yes, the beauty really did fill up my soul (and my list!) while I was away--I miss it back here in the gray rain of the PNW spring!

      Thank for whispering that I'm not alone. I think there is this somewhat unresolvable dilemma of humanity, as I was mentioning above to Chris: Seeking growth and forward movement towards character and holiness while at the same time being fully present to the here and now, leaving the past and future in His hands. I am pondering many ideas regarding this. The concepts of hope and fear and peace and home are all mingling around in my head and I'm sure they'll find their way into my writing as the months go by.

      (New computer arrived today...hoping for a completely smooth and uneventful day of work tomorrow!)

      Much love and grace and strength to you, Dear One

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  5. "stop agonizing over a past that's gone and wrestling with a future that's not yet here"... oh, I so love this statement, Courtney. How true it is! Beautiful words about counting your days and about your lovely time away. Sounds like a very special memory besides the thinking time it offered.
    Thank you for your comment on my blog!

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    1. @Heather: So lovely to find your words tucked here in my spot of the world! Yes--easier said than done, isn't it? I think it's a long process, a daily choice to leave the past in the past and let God worry about tomorrow. But oh, there's so much joy waiting for us when we choose this path! May you, too, find courage to make the daily choice to lean into Him and be fully present to whatever this day may hold.

      And you are most welcome--your post was a sweet spot of joy in my day!

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