Sunday, December 29, 2013

Roller Coasters

I was sharing my blog with my students a few weeks ago and they agreed that it was unacceptable that it has literally been YEARS since I last blogged. I cannot recall everything that has happened in the past few years but I can tell you this much:  I do not know where time has gone.  It has flown by .... "fleeting" as the Scripture so accurately describes it.

 But I believe that if you are living and breathing, then you are reminiscing on 2013. It came in quietly, sneaking up, on the proverbial little cat's feet; knowing full well the happiness that would abound only to be followed by grief so deep.

For the most part roller coasters scare me. I hate the part where you are slowly chugging up, knowing full well that you will reach a plateau and then plunge rapidly, without any control of what is about to happen to you. That might be the part that scares me.  The out of control part.  And, so, in looking back on the past 365 days, I realize there is so very, very little under my control.

I look back to the spring as we held a memorial service for my sister's husband. He had been sick a very, very long time but death still surprises you. And now after the plunge, I watch my sister step off of that coaster ride, gather her belongings and the pieces of her heart and try out a new ride, cautiously and fearfully. But, I know my sister. She is a determined woman and I know full well that she will sing a new song and decide that living cautiously and fearfully is not living.

In September we anticipated Levi's arrival with the scurry and hurry associated with a new baby.  We got on that coaster thrilled to see the outcome, only to get stopped at the top, hanging in midair, not wanting to take the inevitable plunge that we knew awaited us when we received the news.  Oh the grief of holding your grieving children. Parents are pretty helpless people when it comes to sheltering their children from stark reality. It is so out of our control.  And so, as a family, we plunged headlong into some dark days, lonely nights, and months of stumbling around. But I know my son and his wife.   They are determined people and they, too, will sing a new song and decide that stumbling around is unacceptable and not living.

And so it begins again. 2014. Another ride. Another chug chug chug up the hill. Another plunge out of our control. So what is in our control? Do we scream?  Do we hold our hands up with reckless abandon like we are so tough we don't need to hold the rail?  Do we cry?  Do we just endure silently waiting on it to finally come to a standstill in the station?

 I suggest we ride it with great anticipation. Instead of dreading the plunge, we should look at it as such a great experience that we get to enjoy. While grief and death are not enjoyable, they are inevitable. And what is our gain?  A closer walk with The One that is in control.  A deeper, abiding trust that comes only when you have been through the valley.

The Valley of Vision
Lord, high and holy, meek and lowly, Thou hast brought me to the valley of vision, where I live in the depths but see Thee in the heights; hemmed in by mountains of sin I behold Thy glory. Let me learn by paradox 
that the way down is the way up, 
 that to be low is to be high, 
that the broken heart is the healed heart, 
that the contrite spirit is the rejoicing spirit, 
that the repenting soul is the victorious soul, 
that to have nothing is to possess all, 
that to bear the cross is to wear the crown, 
that to give is to receive, 
that the valley is the place of vision. 
Lord, in the daytime stars can be seen from deepest wells, and the deeper the wells the brighter Thy stars shine; 
let me find Thy light in my darkness, 
Thy life in my death, 
Thy joy in my sorrow, 
Thy grace in my sin, 
Thy riches in my poverty, 
Thy glory in my valley.

The Valley of Vision: A collection of Puritan Prayers & Devotions

Arthur G. Bennett 

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