Life is warfare. At least that’s how Job looks at it in Job, Chapter 7. He’s embattled. He perceives that the forces of the Universe have arrayed against him, one small and insignificant human being. I think the Blake image below is an evocative piece. Job so clearly turns his bewildered eyes heavenward, his palms empty and outward, and seems to beseech (in the vernacular) WTF?!
No question Job’s situation is uncomfortable, certainly justifying both anger and bitterness. He feels life pressing in on him, like a slave whose monotonous lot is looking forward to another week’s ending when he receives wages for his work (verses 1-2). Job’s situation is further complicated because he suffers sleepless nights (verse 4) and the boils on his flesh are oozing maggots (verse 5). In sum, he is without hope (verse 6). Continue reading “Watcher of Men”→
Life’s a pathway of longings. When we’re young, we long to grow up … to reach driving age, drinking age, voting age. Once those milestones are achieved, other longings become prominent. We long for a specific job offer, for our team to win, for an upcoming vacation trip, for that just-purchased lottery ticket to hit big, for the mortgage to be paid off, for retirement. We long to become parents and when that stage of life sometimes feels overlong, we long to launch those loved offspring into full independence. (We long for them to make their own pathways.) On the subject of longings, I’ve posted about them before (here, here, here). C. S. Lewis most notably described this human concept as the inconsolable longing and he used the German term sehnsucht. I agree with Lewis about the aptness of this term which connotes wistful longing. Many years before I read and re-read Lewis, I understood inconsolable longing experientially. Continue reading “Take Me Back”→
When I was about eight or nine years old, I remember lying in bed on Christmas Eve, too excited to fall asleep! We lived in a tiny, story-and-a-half bungalow. On the first floor, there was a parlor just inside the front door, a dining room behind that, an eat-in kitchen off to one side, a small bath and a back porch (that had been converted to bedroom space). At the back of the kitchen, a narrow stairway led to the half-story rooms above (I suspect this was also converted space, previously an attic).
I slept in a small single bed situated at the top of the stairs. (I don’t think that bed could accurately fit the description of a “twin” bed; it was narrow like an Army cot … and may well have been!)
Even with this upstairs area being “converted,” it still wasn’t technically bedroom space (no closet, no doors to shut for privacy). My room was more of an alcove/pass-through area with a low, sloped ceiling. An opening (no actual door that I recall) opposite the stairs led into a larger space where my two brothers slept.
At this point in my life, I was old enough to have experienced and remembered past Christmases (and birthdays) but young enough to still be amazed by the wonder of Christmas. I’ve always had an excitable stomach, and on this occasion, I well remember the impossibility of sleep because my belly churned with butterflies!
I thought about the gaunt Christmas tree downstairs, decorated with handmade popcorn garlands, red/green construction paper chains and plenty of silvery-string tinsel to hide the bare spots.
Shortly before bedtime, Mom and Dad had brought out wrapped gifts and placed them under the tree. (They wouldn’t dare put presents under the tree earlier, too much temptation for little ones … and even my older brother and I were not to be trusted.) We’d had night-time stories, prayers and cuddles before climbing the stairs to our beds. Before long, my brothers and I were “nestled all snug in our beds.”
But my excitement was such, I could not transition into “visions of sugar plums” dancing in my head. I simply could not sleep!
I was surprisingly alerted by the sound of bells! Naturally, at first I wondered if I’d nodded off and mistakenly dreamt I’d heard bells. But I continued to hear the tinkling sound and knew immediately something exciting was about to happen!
These bells were not sounding on the rooftop, there was no clatter or sound of reindeer lighting on the rafters overhead. No, what I heard came from below. The problem (for me, a consistently compliant child) was my parents had a very strict rule about getting out of bed once we were settled in. Disobedience on this particular night might mean disaster on the morrow. What to do? What to do?!