Thursday, 17 February 2011

Calling Forth Strength.

I was just thinking how tired I am of 'pressing through', of trusting for a job, a flatmate. This desert, this wasteland of postponement. I'm tired of it. I ask, rather tentatively and with a slight angle of self-pity, 'have I learned this lesson yet?' Oh silly girl. And then I read these words of David, a song he wrote at the end of his life....

'The LORD is my Rock, my Fortress, and my Deliverer;
    my God is my Rock in whom I take refuge,
  my Shield and the Horn of my Salvation.
He is my Stronghold, my Refuge, and my Saviour....'
(2 Samuel 22:2-3)

I've read over and over that phrase 'horn of my salvation', and its corresponding footnote: 'horn here symbolises strength'. I thought little about it. But today, it stood out to me....Why is it that a horn symbolises strength? Why is strength tied to salvation, of all things?....And then it reminded me of something. You know in Narnia, when Father Christmas gives Susan the horn, he says that whenever she blows it HELP WILL COME.....'Trust in this horn, Susan.' In battles where one is surrounded, horns call troops together, they call forth the strength inside and out. They call forth salvation.....But I have to trust that when I call out in my utter abandoned need, He - the God of the Ages - will answer.  

For He Himself, in a strange and wonderful twist, IS my Horn of Salvation. Jesus called out with His last breath, 'It is finished'....a call that has reverberated throughout history. A call of overwhelming victorious strength and salvation.

I'm speechless in the face of this revelation. Shall we not trust?

Saturday, 12 February 2011


'In all seriousness, though, if I don't have the ring in time....can I ask you anyway?'
     'As long as you have a bit of string or something, of course,' I replied.

The hopeful (and realist?) side of me was thinking, 'You complete and utter LIAR.' The other half (which tends to hold more sway) was chiding the romantic in me saying, 'Don't get your hopes up, Grace....this is rubbish. I was hoping he had it already.'
But as a girl, one cannot - absolutely cannot - get one's hopes up too high or one shall feel like a very sad, demanding girl. And we cannot have that. Ever. :)

In the course of the evening he said, 'There is somewhere I've discovered in the city that I wanted to take you to. I found it while you were away....but I kinda want it to be a surprise.'
I suggested that I blindfold myself. Bizzare, I know, but kinda fun.

So that exchange happened on Friday night, last.

Saturday morning rolled around and consisted of porridge, Miranda, rugby highlights, and coffee (ohhhh yes). I didn't notice anything strange....I thought I would, seeing as Gordon has a semi-irrational fear of losing things from pockets, not locking doors, and leaving lights on. I only noticed he seemed strange once, when he was delaying going. But come half past two in the afternoon, we started off in the First Choice van filled to the brim with boxes and bits and bobs. Me blindfolded, listening to BBC radio 1, in all its dance-tune glory. It was only a short, twenty minute drive. If you've never been blindfolded in a car before, I can highly recommend it. It's rather fun to not know where you're going, to feel the lay of the roads. I remember as a kid, I would lay down in the back seat of our car and close my eyes, trying to make myself disoriented so that I'd be surprised when we got home (did you ever do that?). It never really worked, seeing as I usually did it on the way home from church.....and we did that drive far to frequently for any part of the road to be unfamiliar. But I digress.

We parked, and he led me - still blindfolded - to the entrance of our walk. Now you have to know, that that day was a no-make-up-waterproof-jacket-kinda-day. It was overcast and gray. When he took off the blindfold (much to my relief as my overdeveloped sense of self-consciousness was seriously kicking in), I saw we were in a deep, forested vale. I instantly guessed we were in one of three places in the city (Crammond, Morningside, or Blackford Hill)....though I kept those guesses to myself, of course. We sallied forth onto the muddy path, passing dogs and their humans along the way. There was a hermitage, an old dove coat, and some lovely bridges over streams. As soon as we began the ascent, I knew we must be near Blackford Hill. Then I saw the top and it was for certain. I said, 'Do you remember the last time we were here? It was during the height of awkwardness before you asked me out last January.' He replied, 'Yeahhh....I thought I'd redeem it.' :) I had been thinking during the walk, 'I wonder if he'll ask me today?' But that cynic again quickly quieted the romantic and said, 'SHHH. Don't be silly, of course he won't.' And that was that.

We sat on the edge. Eating apples. Then we walked closer to the cliff, overlooking the whole of Edinburgh, including Arthur's Seat, the Firth, and behind us was the Pentlands. Unfortunately, one could see Appleton Tower as well. :) He apologised saying, 'Last time I was here, it was lovely and frosty and golden.' That day, it was cold, windy, and I couldn't really feel my hands anymore - so we agreed to go. As we turned, Gordon bent down to tie his shoe laces. Now, you must understand, that as avid Office fans, Gordon had been doing this to me for the past wee while (year?) as we walked in the city.....bending down on one knee and then tying his shoes. Fortunately he actually did need to tie his shoes in this moment.

So being the good girlfriend that I was, I turned with my back to him to survey the Pentlands (they are so beautiful.....) and thought no more of it. Until....I heard from behind me, 'Uhhh....Grace?' I turned around.

And there he was, bent on one knee, holding a wee green box.

I don't quite know what my face looked like in that moment, but the first words out of my mouth were, 'You loser!' Poor man. We just froze there for a moment, and then he said, 'Would you like to be my wife?'
I somehow temporarily lost the ability to speak.
But in my shock and unbelief, I managed to fumble out, 'Yes. Yes I would!' He instantly stood up and as he was trying to open the box, said, 'I've got a ring too. Would you like to see it?' Again, I answered, 'Yes!' He opened the box and I saw, before me, the perfectest ring ever. 'Where....when?' I asked how old it was, because it looked like an antique ring. He said, 'That's the only thing, it isn't an antique....but the diamond is....' And then I realised that I totally recognised the diamond - it was my mum's.
By this point I was utterly overwhelmed by the magnitude and beauty of it all. 'How? Why? God....' Were the thoughts rushing through my head. I put out my hand and he asked, 'Is this the right hand?' As he slipped it on my left ring finger. 'Yes', I somehow managed to say. 
After dinner and drinks and celebrationings....In the quiet, the overwhelmingness of it all kept  me awake. So I baked. Sad, I know. Oh well!

And that was it folks. I wish I had words to describe how I feel, but I don't. Let me just say one thing, though....The wait was worth it. And I'm not just talking about the wait to kiss, though that was nice too. :) But I'm talking about the wait for the fulfillment of the promises. We called Nana the next night and she said the most beautiful things....'God's save a special one for you, Grace. He's so full of joy!' And it's true. I could say so much more about the goodness of God in this. His faithfulness to me in my doubting and bewilderment and moaning for those two years. He knew the end of the matter before the beginning. He knew. But He didn't tell me in my tears. He waited....because the journey, the story, is the most beautiful part of all.

'Let them give thanks to the Lord for His unfailing love
  and His wonderful deeds for men,
for He satisfies the thirsty
  and fills the hungry with good things.'
(Psalm 107)