Sunday, 20 September 2009

A bend in the road....

    Do you ever do something that you then chide yourself for hours upon hours afterwards? I tend to do this maybe about 5,396 times daily (give or take a few). On Friday I was out and had to get some cash. So I popped over to one on North Bridge and entered my pin. Fairly standard procedure. When I was in the second hand book shop (getting the fifth Harry Potter book - the reason for getting the cash out, I confess) I went to get the money out of my purse. It wasn't there. Do you know that sense of immediate panic that settles? Yeah. Majorly. So then I checked to make sure I still had my debit card. Oh phew. That was still there. I thankfully had a bit of extra cash (intended for other purposes, but ah well), bought the book, and left the shop to get back on the bus. For the rest of the afternoon I kept telling myself how intolerably stupid I was. I mean, who takes out money, retrieves their card, and then leaves the said money in the cash machine?? Stupid stupid stupid stupid. The only thought that slightly comforted me was this: maybe I was able to give a ten pound note to someone who needed it more than I did. And even if it was picked up by some fresher who spent it getting wasted last night....maybe they were blessed somehow. 

    Then Saturday morning woke up. And what a terribly depressing morning it was too....I got three pieces of mail. Two were rejections from applications. Thankfully the third was from a dear friend across the Atlantic on a lovely Island in the north. No matter how many of these 'thank you for your application but you've been unsuccessful' letters I doesn't really get any easier to swallow. 

    So I've caved, I'm going back to work part-time at Starbucks for the time being. At least that's what it feels like I'm doing. I think it's cause I feel like I'm letting myself down. Maybe perfectionist, legalist Grace (yes, I'm aware of the contradiction imbeded in that phrase) needs to learn something about attaching her self-worth to what she does as opposed to who she is in Christ. I've always had such a sense of urgency to DO something, to BE something. Like my time is limited, numbering my days and all that. How is one meant to reconcile that to surrender? My mum had an amazing piece of wisdom for me, 'Sometimes the trial is holding out for your ideal (a job, in this case....a purpose....a validation), and sometimes the trial is holding onto it in the midst of doing something else'.....So back I go to making coffee for a while. I shall choose not to demean myself. Anything He calls us to is a privilage. Oh God give me the strength to keep that attitude.

    These episodes are relatively unconnected....but both part of my life this past week. And both have made me think of something....How rarely do things happen the way that we expect. I mean, I really should know this by now. It's funny how little I do know. But I do know this....I shall choose to believe that this bend holds the best. For this bend is where I have been led. Thus in this bend I shall find the Heart of My Purpose. And He is Faithful....and full of grace for my doubting and bewildered heart. 

     My walks have reminded me a bit from the end of  'Anne of Green Gables' (bear with my slightly romantic tendancies, please). :)
'I shall give life here my best, and I believe it will give its best to me in return. When I left Queen's my future seemed to stretch out before me like a straight road. I thought I could see along it for many a milestone. Now there is a bend in it. I don't know what lies around the bend, but I am going to believe the best does. It has a fascination of its own, that bend, Marilla. I wonder how the road beyond it goes - what checkered light and shadows, what new landscapes, what new beauties, what curves and hills and valleys further on'....'The beauty of it all thrilled Anne's heart, and she greatfully opened the gates of her soul it it. "Dear old world", she murmured, "You are very lovely, and I am glad to be alive in you"....Anne's horizons had closed in since that night she had sat there after coming home from Queen's; but if the path before her feet was to be narrow she knew that flowers of quiet happiness would bloom along it. The joys of sincere work and worthy aspirations and congenial friendship were to be hers; nothing could rob her of her birthright of fancy or her ideal world of dreams. And there was always the bend in the road! "God's in His heaven, all's right with the world!" whispered Anne softly.' 
'The road goes ever on and on, down from the door where it began....'

Oh, and I bought a pumpkin. Wooo hooo. Roll on bread, pies, and soup!
Currently listening to Imogen Heap's 'Wait it Out' and Mutemath's 'Goodbye'. My melancholic tendancies have won out. 

Wednesday, 9 September 2009

Of freshly cut grass and burning leaves.

Inverleith Park is my new favourite place in the city. It's like it was hidden from me until tonight. Until this beautiful, gorgeous evening. I walked out of the house with no specific destination in mind at about quarter past six, listening to such songs as this.
'To glory and give oneself to God again'....what greater thing is there in this life? My trials and troubles vanish at the sight of You. It's like, without even knowing You are there or are doing it it, it's like You're breathing life into me again.

As I sat on a bench and overlooked the fields and the city, a whole host of memories flooded me. The field, with kids playing football and people running about, with the most incredible view of the city....the smell. The smell reminded me of going to football practice in the fall with my dad, coaching us in the reminants of his suit, his shirt sleaves rolled up; and Elijah, Becca, Jenn, and I tagging along. Of being hot on a cool night when all the lights of the field come on. It makes me want to put on my shin guards, socks, and cleats. It's overpowering sometimes, when a memory hits you this hard. Especially when I keep memories so locked up tight, sequestered to two different sides of the ocean. Rarely do the two worlds intersect.
The smell of autumn is definitely here. The clouds were tinged with that golden, pinky-blue that so often overtakes them....and the music reworked things, weaving things in to my heart that had been missing and fraying for the past wee while. It's like a deep breath. Like turning one's face upwards to see the ever so faintly colouring leaves rustle against the pale blue of the evening sky. It's like the smell of freshly cut grass mingled with burning leaves. It's grace. 

I've been finishing off books that I've been meaning to finish off for a while, tying off loose ends, a multitude of thoughts and ideas rushing through my head. But in that moment on the bench, oddly, there were no particular thoughts that came. Slightly frustrating, slightly freeing. It was when I stopped trying to think of what I should be thinking about, that it came. Your voice, Jesus. 'I did this for you, my love....'

I get frustrated with myself that I don't seem to love Him as I should. I never seem to 'feel' correctly. But He showed me something on that bench. He showed me that I do love Him....because He has chosen to speak to me, come for me. I love You, Lord, with that quiet kind of love that comes from years of knowing You. Sure, You are my Great Love....but for the most part, I love You with the 'for better or for worse' kind of love. The quiet kind that doesn't make too much of a fuss. And though I know I've got years ahead of me to learn and grow, I can find comfort in the fact that He has awoken my heart to love. And I am not dead, even if I can convince myself out of self-pity that I am, at times. He has placed this love in me, this desire for Him to be first, not second best....even when (especially when) I forget it.

And just to encourage you....He loves you. Oh how much He loves you. His grace is like your favourite smell, a reminder of home. A reminder of the beauty that calls from beyond the lights. The beauty of His grace. Just be still. And know. That HE is God.

Oh, and one other thing and then I'll shut up. I have finally caved in and admited to myself after many, many years of self denial that I have an overactive imagination. I have argued with God many times in my life, convinced He got the date of my birth wrong, 'Are you sure, God, that you meant for me to be born in this decade (or even this century)?'.....Ah well. My imagination shall have to content me.

I leave you with another's, much more eloquent, purposeful and concise words....
'I walked out onto the hill just now. It is exalting, delicious, to stand embraced by the shadows of a friendly tree with the wind tugging at your coattails and the heavens hailing your heart, to gaze and glory and give oneself to God - what more could a man ask? Oh the fulness, pleasure, shear excitment of knowing God on earth! I care not if I never raise my voice again for Him, if only I may love Him, please Him. Mayhap in mercy He shall give me a host of children that I may lead them through the vast starfields to explore His delicacies whose finger ends set them to burning. But if not, if only I may see Him, touch His garments, and smile into His eyes - ah then, not stars nor children shall matter, only Himself. O Jesus, Master and Centre and End of all, how long before that Glory is Thine which has so long awaited Thee? Now there is no thought of Thee among men; then there shall be thought for nothing else. Now other men are praised; then, none shall care for any other's merits. Hasten, hasten Glory of Heaven, take Thy crown, subdue Thy kingdom, enthrall Thy creatures.' (Jim Elliot).
God is gain. God is gain. God is gain. (John Piper).

'Let the morning bring me word of your unfailing love,
for I have put my trust in You.
Show me the way that I should go,
for to You I lift up my soul.'
(Psalm 143:8).