Saturday, September 6, 2014

The Big Picture

I've been meaning to blog about The Big Picture ever since Mallory surprised us by showing up one day in June.  Every time I see him I'm reminded again that there's a really big picture.  I desperately need that reminder from time-to-time!

Of course, this story doesn't start that day.  It's hard to figure out quite where Big Picture stories start.  I suspect it's something like, "Before the foundations of time..."  My awareness of this particular story started when I was sixteen.  As is always the case with Big Picture stories, I didn't have a clue that day or, in fact, for many years.

I certainly wouldn't go so far as to say I was a normal sixteen-year-old (whatever that is), but I did struggle with the same things lots of teens struggle with...zits, body image, homework, wondering if I had what it takes, would anyone ever choose to love me, the usual.  I was living in Nova Scotia and one of my aunts was living in British Columbia.  She sent me a cassette tape.  Yes, a cassette.  Not an eight-track, though I did have some of those too, just a regular little ol' cassette.

It was a homemade one with a sticker label that said, "From Brian and Mallory With Love."  It wasn't from them directly to me.  It was just a cassette that a couple of people had made and their friends had enjoyed it so much they made a bunch of copies.  My Aunt thought I would like it and I did!  The songs spoke to my heart.  The guitars were beautifully played and the vocal harmonies were extraordinary.  One of the voices often sang a clear, higher harmony so I assumed Mallory was a girl, like the Mallory on Family Ties.

I played that tape all the time.  Especially when I was trying to sleep at night.  I struggled a lot with anxiety and sleep seldom came easily.  That cassette calmed me.

Because this is a Big Picture story, I have to fast-forward a decade.  Ten years in which I finished High School, went to college, got engaged to a guy that I didn't marry, moved across the country...and then met Brian.  Who sang and played the guitar beautifully.  He had a friend named Mallory.  Mallory was a guy but not the guy who sang the high parts on my tape.  That was Brian.

I married Brian and Mallory sang at our wedding.  Just as God knew I would.  I don't think He just knew, I believe He planned it "before the foundations of time..."  When I was sixteen and tormented by anxiety and couldn't sleep and played a cassette to calm myself He knew I was listening to the voice of my future husband.  He had a Plan.  A really good Plan.  I think He smiled over those moments with the same kind of delight I feel when I plan treats for my kids.

Now I can see that part of The Big Picture. It's really beautiful. It was His plan along I just couldn't see it.

Today is part of a Big Picture too. Strands of a tapestry are being woven together.  The strands are all I can see at the moment.  I have no idea what the final picture for this chapter is going to look like.  Many of the strands are really, really lovely, my favorite colours.  I can easily see those hues coming together in a way that makes my heart burst with joy.

There are a few though that aren't very pretty.  In fact, when I look at those ones I don't like them at all.  I've seen some pictures woven in those colours and they're ugly and make me feel sad.  Some days feel like they are dominated by those ugly threads.  My stomach gets all queasy and I can't think straight.  Grief and fear are paralysing.  What if...  What.  If.

In desperation I seek the eyes of the Weaver to whom I've entrusted my life.  His eyes are beautiful.  So beautiful.  I'm transfixed, but it's different than being paralysed.  His gaze fills me with peace and calm.  His love starts to soak into the pain and fear.  If I stay there long enough, it fills me with courage and I can move again, breathe again.  He makes beautiful, glorious pictures. Even out of really ugly colours.  He weaves in grace and redemption and they become masterpieces.

This seeking of His eyes...  Sometimes it requires fierce determination.  It's an act of war.  A refusal to believe the lies that His love and grace aren't big enough.

Again, today, I will release the strands I'm clutching. He promises to take them and make something that will take my breath away.  I'm looking into His eyes.  The love in them is making me sing a song.

It's a song I learned from a cassette a long time ago.

Brian and Mallory in June ~ I wish I had a picture of them recording their album!

Friday, June 20, 2014

Please Stand By

Sometimes God speaks to me audibly.

I'm not saying that the woman in the Costco self checkout is God--He'd use better grammar ("Your savings is..." *shudder*  I've seriously thought of writing to the corporation)--but Monday I heard him speak to me through that voice.  (It's surprising how often He uses imperfect vessels.)

Whenever possible I use the self-checkout.  It's just so hard to be patient while someone else is pokey and packs the hamburger buns on the bottom.  Yes, I say something about the buns (much to the horror of my children, but seriously!), and, no, I don't have control issues, just an appreciation of things done well.  However, it is inconvenient when there's a glitch.  Like on Monday when I swiped a shirt and placed it on the belt.  Wouldn't take.  I tried again.  And again.

"Help is required for this item.  Please stand by.  Help is on the way."  Thankfully, her grammar was correct at this stressful moment.  The only way I was going to leave the store with that shirt (half price and a lovely shade of blue!) was if I waited.  Waited for help.  Help that was apparently on the way.

That's when I laughed out loud.


Help is required for this item.

Please stand by.

Help is on the way.

That thought which had been pinging around in my head all morning...  How could I solve that particular problem?  I could...what if I...or maybe if I...  "I" was part of every solution I could imagine.  Yet clearly help was required for this item.

Please stand by, Michelle.  Help is on the way!

I don't always wait well (see above regarding self checkout).  I frequently wear myself to a nub trying to solve problems.  Sure, action on my part is usually required, but I'm a hamster on a wheel when I think I'm the source of the solution.

"Be still in the presence of the Lord and wait patiently for him to act.  Don't worry..."

"I waited patiently for the Lord to help me and he...heard my cry...lifted me out of the pit of despair, out of the mud and the mire..."

"No one who waits for you will ever be put to shame."

Wait.  Patiently.  Don't worry.  Worry causes mire in my brain.  While I waited for the that moment of stillness...that stillness I frequently avoid though my impatience...truth surfaced.

God was definitely speaking to me in that annoying and often grammatically incorrect android voice.  Help was required.  In that moment I determined to "stand by" and believe that "help is on the way."

That was five days ago...  At least half the solution has unfolded.  I have every reason to believe that if I continue to stand by, all the help I need will arrive.

It's kinda peaceful.

Psalm 37:7; 40:1-2 NLT
Psalm 25:3 GN