Mar 12, 2007

A litany of luxury

I live in the lap of luxury. The thought hit me as I stepped into a clean, wide shower. The water would be as hot as I wanted for as long as I wanted, and I might just like to linger there some. I slept until I woke this morning, then spent an unmeasured time holding tea, sitting cross-legged on my bed reading Mark. And when I had marveled at Jesus, and asked for Him to keep me with Him, and delegate to me power (authority) to heal the sick and cast out demons, I decided to read a Psalm. Sidetracked by the story of Boaz, some more marveling was done—at the redemption in the Lord’s heart toward us.

This is an amazing life; the shower water was perfect, and I was going to jump out with time to spend editing Peter’s chapter on the Roman Empire before I was due at my niece’s house for a babysit. I have time to write my own novel; I have time to edit Peter’s book. I live where I hear stunning sermons, and have access to people who pray, or prophesy, or teach the Word almost full-time. I can jump in my car and spend a day shopping for my sister’s birthday present. The shower is always warm, even if the floor is cold. Technology brings me into my parent’s house, 700 miles away, to chat face to face. At any moment I can ring up any friend, whether I’m in my car, a store, my bedroom, or walking in the forest. When I feel played out, a nice movie and a cozy couch is always available. I happen to be engaged to the most powerful One; and the most powerful One happens to also be the most Loving One. I am a woman, a daughter of Eve, one of those beings who are the treasures of mankind. I’ve already been rescued from a horrible, living death; and the One who did it will not withhold anything good from me—for the hardest part has already been accomplished. Which is harder, to forgive someone their sins, or to heal them? And the faith is growing in me…conquering sickness when it attacks, learning to agree with God over when and where He places me.

In the midst of my listing game I spy a spider, clinging to the corner of the shower. I splash water at it, and it is thrown onto the ceiling, trapped in a droplet. Well, so much for luxuriating here. Amazing how fast one can wash one’s hair with one eye trained on a spider. Still, nothing has changed. Am I really among the most privileged of the earth, or am I just becoming more grateful? Or…and this is more biblical by far…has gratefulness begun to open my eyes to the truth—that I have much to be thankful for! “…although they knew God, they did not glorify Him as God, nor were thankful, but became futile in their thoughts, and their foolish hearts were darkened.” (Rom 1:21) The converse must be true. She was thankful, and became clear in her thoughts, and her wise heart was enlightened.

I suppose you could argue with me. Sure, I live in a basement room and often have to plug my little space-heater in before I can take off my coat. It flooded down here when the heavy rain came last month, though we succeeded in keeping it out of my room. I have no health insurance and worry about the parts of my body that seem to need some attention but aren’t getting it. The dentist would be too expensive, but I’m sure I can spy at least two spots on my teeth that need fillings. Will they develop to root canals if I can’t care for them soon? I skip Sunday-afternoon lunches with friends because six dollars is an awful lot to spend for a burrito, and I’m filling up my car a quarter tank at a time, hoping gas prices will go down and knowing if I have less gas, I’ll be less inclined to drive around wasting it. When I pay at the grocery store, I shudder. When I put new tires on the car, I cry. I’ve stood in the aisle for five minutes in front of the pancake mixes, arguing with myself over whether it’s too much of an indulgence, not to mention that the healthy one I want is three dollars more than the generic. Some of the knobs on my dressers are just screws, sticking out pointy-end first, and the magazine I’m currently enjoying is a two-year-old version of Living, which my brother-in-law gave me for Christmas that long ago. I have no children, though all my sisters are enjoying daughters and cute-as-a-bug toddlers. I am as unmarried as Ruth, without the prospect of Boaz. She also was a foreigner to the land she dwelt in. I’m called to write songs to the Lord and do war with worship, but my style and skill in neither of these match those around me, making them purely personal endeavors. I love to write, but what I write does not make money. The kitchen is uncomfortable and I can’t cram my food onto the very few shelves apportioned to me. And, to top it all off, sugar is bad for me, but I adore sugar!

Quite the litany of woes, supposedly. They all are very pale, though, in relation to the truth about my current state. Someone came along and asked: Will you give up your independence and obey me? I said yes before I thought to ask back: Will I get something in return? The answer has been continual and cryptic: Just joy, and love; oh, and everything you might possibly imagine to desire, but not exactly when you think you need it. Said I: Oh. It still sounds like a better deal than anyone, anywhere, will ever offer. And it has been.

I met a friend of a friend the other day. Nice guy; very nice guy; not a believer. When he learned I’d had a novel published he asked about my agent. I don’t have one. Well, then, how did you get it published, he asked. The Lord made the arrangements. It’s odd to say, particularly to an unbeliever, but I really can’t conjure up a different answer. Did you have to pay Him? he asked. I was flabbergasted for a minute. Had he misunderstood my answer? Did my Chicago accent throw him off, and “Lord” sounded like a boyfriend of mine…perhaps “Ford”? (Though who’s named that, I don’t know.) No, I finally responded. It was free. As I thought about it later I’d wished I’d had a different answer. Yes, I would say. Yes, I paid Him my soul. My whole soul. And it still seems I’ve gotten the better end of the deal!