I have been looking for my old Recorder Ap for over a year. It seemed to have disappeared last time I got a new phone. I looked for it again this morning when I wanted to sing and send ‘It Is Well’ to someone I love. Total disclosure, that would be my husband, and my son who is 1000s of miles away.
In the process, I used a new Ap, sang and sent it off. But as my husband was walking out the door with Big Puppy Fannie, he said, “It has be there somewhere.” So I went through each screen on my phone, Ap by Ap and, he was right. I found it. It contains lots of recordings of my dad and me talking. One of them is just a day before he died.
I discovered that I still laugh at the same things and that my laugh is identical to what it was back then. It was like hearing my laugh in stereo, coming from me and my phone. Laughing together, dad and me, got us through a lot. Dad was so serious so much of the time but, just like being a child at the dinner table being told to stop laughing, he would make me laugh when he was dead serious. All comedy is really serious business, you know?
He would make me laugh, then he would laugh at me laughing. He was so short of breath, I could only see him laughing—his eyes looking into mine with sheer joy, his left hand slapping his left thigh as he was seated in his favorite chair. I wanted him to laugh. More than just wanting to have fun, I think it came from a place of protection. Laughter protected his life. I wanted to protect him from death. And while I think it’s true that laughter might make our days more comfortable, God knows the number of our days. How we spend them is up to us.
My father was intense. And while he had a boyish tendency to be a prankster, he was most often, serious-minded. He was serious about giving God the glory through his work, he was serious about his faith and about living well (with Jesus), he was serious about helping others live well (with Jesus). If that turned you off, well, he turned you off. But that was Dad.
I don’t think it was a coincidence that I read this morning, ‘Rejoice with divine hilarity when once His voice is heard.’ (Oswald Chambers). He was referring to the Bridegroom, Christ. Chambers referenced the scripture, ‘He must increase but we must decrease.’ (John 3:30) That’s how Dad tried to live. Or that’s how Jesus taught him how to live. And that’s how Dad taught us how to live until we could begin to learn from Jesus Himself.
God has prepared me for this time. I wrote a while back that I have learned to sit still until my bones ache. He has taught me how to exist apart from my surroundings but still remain in them. He has taught me how to wait. He has taught me how to see things in new ways–my favorite, is how to see Him revealed in Nature’s ways.
He has taught me how to hear His voice in the voices of others and through the words of His Love Letter. He has been preparing me. But not without a cost. “Do not suppose that I have come to bring peace to the earth,” He said to His Disciples. “I did not come to bring peace but a sword.” (Mathew 10:34). Chambers writes, ‘You may often see Jesus Christ wreck a life before He saves it.’ We decrease into His purpose. He writes, that even goodness shouldn’t attract attention to itself, but be a magnet to draw us nearer to Jesus. He writes that sometimes the most important thing we can do is just remain connected to Him–that sometimes the most important thing we can do is make sure that nothing interferes with that.
I have waited so long to have time with Him like I have now. It’s no secret to anyone who knows me that I have grown to spend long hours in the wee hours of the morning just being with Him. It has been a training no different than my training as a dancer. In fact, I think He was preparing me for this even back then. Teaching me to understand how things take time and discipline and commitment, perseverance and, oh so much, grace.
I don’t know why I was so resistant for so long. I tried everything to avoid it. I did everything I could to avoid it. And I didn’t even need Jesus to make a wreck out of my life. I did that really well on my own. But even now, through it all, I can say, It is Well. All the wreckage has brought me to a place where I am quarantined within my home and at peace within Him.
I’ve always perceived that I received, ‘my eye’ from my father. He taught me perspective by holding a pencil up to the line of a form—a step, a roof, a path—to hold that angle steady, and then place it at that exact angle on my paper. From then on, I could draw a house, a staircase, a meadow, all in perspective. But Dad also taught me about unseen perspective. He taught me to read the Scriptures, starting with the story of Joseph (Genesis 37). And though it held no unseen, deeper meaning for me then, or for a long time, I never forgot it. Joseph, forced into starvation by his brothers, ended up saving his brothers from starvation.
My father taught me how to read the Bible but it wasn’t until my Father, sent His Spirit, to open up my spirit, that I began to see into it with new eyes every time I read the Words it contained.
My father taught me how to draw the lines, see the lines, and see the lines of the words in the scriptures, but only He could teach me how to see between the lines. His Words opening my mind, my thoughts, my heart to His mind, His thoughts, His Heart. His Spirit.
For all those years, I said, ‘Can You?’ instead of, ‘I believe You can,’ I wonder now why. But He keeps His eye on the sparrow. With each passing day, I see more and more how He flings light across the year to come, tosses shadow across the past, and teaches us to stand there in-between, like a tree absorbing the Sun’s warmth.
Photo: Washington Island Cabin