Tag Archives: God

Something New and Good: Our God Sunshines

When I was really little, my new-Christian-mom and I listened to a lot of praise music in the car. Most of her favorite stories about me come from these times.

Once, when I was about 3 or 4, we were listening to a song called “Our God Reigns.” I was singing along contentedly, and then stopped and looked concerned.

“You know, Mommy, sometimes our God sunshines too.”

It’s a cute story, and I was probably just talking about the weather, but it’s also telling about something that would continue into adulthood.

FAM trip 442

The tradition I grew up in, the Reformed nuevo-puritans, is not about a sunshiney God. Their God thunders, really.

He loves you…in spite of how totally wretched you are.

The heart is an idol factory.

The cross was a reminder of what you deserve.

All biblically accurate. That’s the kicker. God has this dark and stormy side. And we love that side. It’s the side that stands up for the oppressed and has the final say against injustice! We’re sinners too, and God sees that. But one true thing does not a whole self nourish.

It wasn’t that I didn’t want to talk about sin and idolotry. It was that I wanted to talk about something else sometimes. Just sometimes. I wanted some hope.

My spine hurt from the constant game of limbo. How low can your self-esteem go? It’s not low enough until you feel like a worm.

And that mentality had a way of working itself into every area of life. Marriage between two Wormy Sinners is a bloodbath. Wormy Sinner Parents raising Wormy Sinner Children was a jungle fight. Wormy Sinner Communities are messes. Sure does make you want to be in that club, huh? Don’t you want to be reminded what a Wormy Sinner you are in all of life’s most happy moments?

But in my head, there’s a well-trained voice that says, “That’s correct. That’s accurate.”

Maybe so. But knowing myself, and my tendency to obsess…what do I want to obsess on? God’s goodness or my badness? (Spare me the theology talk about how it’s our badness that show us how good he is and vice versa.)

So (among other reasons) I gave myself some distance from the I-am-a-Worm Club.

FAM trip 592

It might take me the rest of my life to really believe that God sunshines, and that I can just bask in that without self-flagellating. It may take the rest of my life, but I’m going to do it. With the help some good, honest “God loves you” preaching. I’ve needed it.

But recently, I really missed the nuevo-puritan’s revamped hymnal, so I bought some CDs and revisited the days when I used to listen to worship music in the car. I had to laugh though. Even the titles of the praise music reveal a slight preference for “hard truths.” There are a lot of titles like “Come and Mourn,” “Stricken, Smitten, and Afflicted,” and “Come Ye Sinner Poor and Wretched.” Not all, just more than you’d expect.

In the end, the nuevo-puritan revamped hymnal has not left me high and dry. If I had to pick an anthem for my slow and halting return to the disciplines of grace, it would have to be this more eloquent expression of my childhood assertion that God sunshines:

Sometimes a light surprises
The Christian while he sings;
It is the Lord who rises
With healing in His wings;
When comforts are declining,
He grants the soul again
A season of clear shining,
To cheer it after rain.

Source: http://www.hymnal.net/hymn.php/h/706#ixzz2iaVfpBVU

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Something New and Good: Baby

So…three years of marriage, and still I have not experienced the bloodbath I’d been afraid of before I got married. Lewis and I have yet to go to bed angry. I’ve never wished he would just go away. I’m not bragging. I’m the girl who had a panic attack two weeks before her wedding because she was afraid that marriage was going to be a 50+ year battle with untold casualties. No bragging rights here.

I’m saying that marriage has been wonderful beyond my expectations.

But now…a baby on the way. And the voices are back, telling me life is about to get really, really hard. So many were these voices that I put off getting pregnant for as long as I could without pushing poor Lewis over the edge. We are happy. We have balance…why upset it? Why invite what, according to a lot of people I know, is the most emotionally draining and difficult thing they have ever done?

Because it’s time to believe that God makes all things new.

People love to tell you how you’re going to mess up your kids, just like your parents messed you up. They like to tell you how you bring all of your baggage into parenting. They want it to be freeing, to tell you that you don’t have to be perfect, because nobody is perfect. They want it to remind you that you need grace as a parent.

I get that, and I appreciate it.

And it’s true that we’re born sinners. Sure thing.  Got it. My children will not be perfect. I will not be perfect.

BUT, here’s the deal: New life. What could be more of a picture of God’s grace that is new every morning than an actual. NEW. LIFE.

This baby will not come out cynical and jaded. She will not have years of baggage yet. She will be fresh and new, and her experience of the world, the church, and family will be her very own.

This baby, to me, is a celebration of hope. When I feel like so much has been ruined or twisted or corrupted, an entire new person will exist in the world who knows nothing of that. And maybe she will experience her own pains, but she will also have her own joys and see God’s faithfulness to her in her own life.

I’m sure that when she’s two and rolling on the floor screaming…or thirteen and rolling on the floor screaming, I will be glad for the wisdom that prepared me for her humanity. I’m sure I will be glad that someone warned me that I can’t be the perfect parent. Lewis and I are both first children, and we’re having our first child. We will win the award for most neurotic house on the block.

BUT, that is not what sets me free. That is not what makes me feel new and good. What gives me hope is that God makes all things new. And there is something new happening here (between my abs and my bladder) and it has the potential to be good. Not the kind of good that doesn’t need Jesus, but the kind of good that brings him glory. This little girl has her own story, and Jesus loves her. And I have every reason to believe that her difficult toddler/teenage years are nothing in comparison to the person God is already making her to be.

sonogram

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