Tag Archives: God the Father

Just the way he calls my name

24 Apr

I walked into the garden with a strange emptiness. I wanted closure – the trite rituals of the third day, the cloying smell of funeral flowers, the neatly tied-up threads. Then, I could pretend this was all… normal. All of it. Friday, today – the worlds inbetween.

I longed to be able to weep.

You see, it didn’t even hurt. I didn’t know what to feel. My whole life had revolved around this one thing, and now it wasn’t there.

I remember when it wasn’t there before. But that was different. Then, I didn’t know joy. I thought I did, I laughed and danced in the shadows and thought I found love, and yes, also did find it. The whispers I always heard, it was easy for me to think they were because I was too beautiful, too far removed. Every whisper, whether it was better or worse, than my reality was never the truth. It was never me. So I didn’t even remember to hurt – after a while. I didn’t recognise pain or loneliness. Really.

Because when you’re alone, you don’t miss yourself. You run away from it. And the people who don’t know you, but think they do? In the temple, at the well, in town – I revelled in their knowledge and their knowing grins with this unholy glee. It was easy to escape when you didn’t hear any reminders. The sins they conjured up – those weren’t mine. They were at the door of the village’s official outcast.

Me? I was the only one who knew what I had really done. What I had left undone. What I had said, and the moments I had chosen to turn away from the compelling of my heart, deliberately, uncaringly – because it was easy, and because I was tired. Moments preserved like specimens in ugly jars in the great, churning laboratory of my mind. Nobody guessed my soul-weariness of expected sin, of the convenience to never face yourself because no one knows you and it is easy to forget yourself. Nobody guessed, they had their own wearinesses.

Or so I thought until the day he came. Steady, unfazed and definitely – yes, definitely – looking me in the eye. Few men did that to women, let alone ‘forgotten’ women. It was a long time since I thought of myself as one – a woman, that is. And yet, in his eyes, I suddenly saw my reflection and, for the first time in my life, the brokenness showed. That and compassion.

And he knew me.

When I saw that in his eyes, I got to talking. Really fast. In short, sharp, staccato sentences. Brash talk, the fast kind. The kind that hides any realness, you know. Like you meet a stranger, at a bar, and he’s a little too intense for you when you’re vulnerable. Yeah, that – magnified several times over. So you toss your hair, you laugh at them, you treat them with anything but seriousness. You challenge their assumptions, you say harsh things, jaded observations – and pray he doesn’t notice you’re trying.

Well, you’re obviously a foreigner. Don’t you know I’m not the kind of lady you should be chatting to? So who do you think you are? Seriously, who are you?

No… Seriously, who… are… you? I want what you have with an aching I didn’t know I had.

Because then he goes and says something about water that will never let me thirst again. And I never knew I wanted it – but suddenly I do, with a loud lunge of my heart against ribcage. You know all those times no one ever hears that, and you’re thankful for the privacy of your pain? Well, this man – with his quiet eyes, his knowing eyes – he stripped away all my neatly set-up filters and I didn’t even know until a long while later that they were gone. The tears surprised me. I didn’t know I could cry.

He knew my secrets. My real secrets. It wasn’t that they were better than the ones the town gossiped about. But it was just that they were mine. Old, familiar ghosts that had the right to haunt.

Just like that, he knows me. And I am not afraid any more.

The true worshipers will worship the Father in the Spirit and in truth, for they are the kind of worshipers the Father seeks.

And, incredibly, he smiled. For the first time, I saw his tears. And for the first time, I was a part of the conversation. He wasn’t talking about someone else. I drank that in. Noisily, all my graces and sophistication in the well with the old water.

When I carried the story, I was so excited the town forgot to whisper.

I want to cry now. To wail and touch the evidence of death, to finish this impossible hole in my heart. I cannot see the body, the stone is rolled away. The tomb is empty and there is just the sound of someone walking, working in the garden.

The soldiers…? But why? The twelve? But surely, surely despite all their misgivings about the ‘strays’ he picked up, they would tell… I… All of us, we miss his voice, we miss his laughter, we miss his sorrow, we miss… Him.

Where is he? Perhaps you would know? Did you see what happened, did they come to take him when you came in to work on the flowers?

Mary.”

Mary.

And just like that, I know Him. The wealth of knowing in the sound of my name, it holds the key to life, my life, ours. He knows me.

And because of that, I know who he is.

“Rabboni.”

Author

8 Mar

This made me think about God’s story for my life. When I sat down in the Introduction to Fiction class, I heard quote after quote from Forster’s Aspects of the Novel, a book as engaging as didactic.

There was one which I can’t, for the life of me, find online. But I remember it well, if not verbatim…

In reading the novel, we only see the frayed ends of threads. But the author sees the tapestry.

That isn’t a quote. Almost. But it’s stayed with me so long because I remembered God in my life. Isn’t that how he works? Our great tapestry maker.

I am looking right now and all I can see is frayed threads. A thread here, a thread there. Gray and bright red, almost directionless it would seem. What – really – is the grand scheme here? Where is the pattern book?

In the infinite mind of the creator. And who has known that mind, to whom has it been revealed?

But that seems really distant, still. The author though, the one who writes every sentence, rethinks every word and punctuation, plans and purposes, crafts and moulds into a tapestry – he is here, in the every day, in the now… healing my heart and my mind, leading me on to the next page. Hearing my thoughts, knowing them better than I know them myself. Hearing my questions before I ask them and shock myself. He is right here. In this uncomfortable place – wherever you are, right now, if you’re feeling closed in, know that it is only the heat of the spotlight until people can see Himin you. He is here.

And I have this niggling feeling that if I let the fragile thread of my life, my good intentions, my ability and … just me… follow his needle through the push and pull, through the loops and twists and impossible knots, through the ugly underside and the jungle of multi-coloured threads, I will find myself part of the beautiful picture when I am done. A picture that is me more than I could have ever been myself.

Here I am. Ecce dominus…

Dad’s on my case

15 Dec

I have had a special-feelingy day today. All delicious, like walking on crisp autumn leaves in a yellow light, or triple chocolate cookies with marshmallows and Starbucks coffee. I think it was because I went to sleep being held by my Dad. The other one. The one who gave his Son.

I noticed when a pastor in a church we sometimes visit suggested that we worship and acknowledge the presence of the Lord, like we do for our earthly fathers. Perhaps it’s the conventional Indian way of filial relating… What this pastor said was that we hardly ever say ‘Hey, good morning’ on our way out to our Dads. We made sure we went to him, stood before him and respected him… and then said good morning. Maybe my own dad has missed this all his years. But growing up as I did, in the context that I did, it was hard to imagine a dad to laugh with. It was hard to imagine rushing to tell my dad the funny line of the day or to tell my dad just what I heard on the playground… My mum filled those positions of listener and friend and most trusted confidante. My dad, now, I think is a wonderful man who is full of single-minded allegiance to that beautiful gospel that has saved us. He was often proud of my achievements outside the home – school, work, college. He would show me off to his friends.

I was never comfortable with it, but I did appreciate his taking pride in my activities. However, there were so many things I did that my father never understood why I liked in the first place. My most enduring impression of our relationship and my childhood is, I think, a feeling of inadequacy. The things I did do could always do with room for improvement. But for a child, without the appreciation that I think I craved, a relentless push towards correction and betterment often becomes faith-destroying. I think I only saw the criticism. I don’t know if there was anything else. I’m sure there was. And I know there was love. Yet, there’s always been distance between my dad and me. While that hurts me, I am not sure I would change that. The distance is not enmity. There is so much love.

I longed to talk to my Dad, try out new words on him, discover my confidence in conversation with him, earn his approval. But I still longed for him to give me it without wanting me to be different. When I found Christ, it blew my mind. My Dad actually did do all that!

Still over the passage of years, my habit of inadequacy will catch up with me and I find myself forgetting just how much Dad wants to talk to me. Just how much he’s longing for me to come and snuggle beside him. I’m surprised to realise it’s he who tells me he wants time with me… I often forget my love. And really, I know it’s I who want – no, need this time with him. But God? Letting himself need me? Pshaw.

And I’ve been thinking about this a lot lately. Who is my God? Who is my Father? Few sermons stand out to you years after they have been delivered. This was about fifteen years ago. And I still remember this man preaching on the father love of God. He said we forget that he’s our father. There was something about the way he spoke of it which made it so real to me. And created a hunger in me for it that I still remember. He told us to remember what a loving Dad we have in our Lord, to crawl up to him like a little child, to forget our prayer lists and our verses for memory, our notations and our to-do list, to forget even the things we rush around doing for him as if that earns us the relationship we already have… and to curl up in his lap, climb up and hold on tight and just let him put you to sleep.

The memories I hold so precious are the few memories of my dad being comforting or, once, apologising because he did love me. But recently I’ve also been reading Crazy Love which is a wonderful book. There are videos which accompany each chapter in the books. And watching this father in action broke my heart into mouldable vulnerability last night. What blew me was the way he smiles in obvious delight when his son arrives or takes advantage of his dad. It’s as if he’s discovered something absolutely delightful and it’s never going to get old. It’s as if everything that little boy is saying is hilarious, insightful and all he wants to hear.

And suddenly it was as if God was saying: Will you never know how much I love you?

I look at you and I see me. That’s my baby, I made her in her mother’s womb, she even looks like me. This is the girl who holds my heart in her fingers. Because I’m letting her in. There isn’t a day that goes by when I don’t think of you and long to share a smile with you. And everything you think (which I can hear, by the way) is just what I want to hear all about. I think those are the most amazing, insightful, funny and beautiful words I could ever hear because they are you. They’re about you. And you. You are who I want.

So I went to sleep in my Dad’s arms tonight. And he reminded me of Jeremiah 1. Not only in confidence, in the quiet of my room but also through the family birthday card and through Crazy Love. And in a million other ways, Dad’s on my case. And he’s got it covered.

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