Well, all the kids have been battling a minor head cold the past few days. We had a quieter weekend with more tasks and mundane work at home to catch up on on Saturday. Yesterday we stayed home from church, not wanting to pass on the sickies, opting instead for a quiet easy walk at nearby Lake Powhatan. We always ache to be with our church family, but the days when we are forced to stay home with feverish babies are days to receive with open hands, a good sort of rest and quietness. We basked in the sun and the glorious first-fall-feeling day, all bundled up to keep little sick ones warm in the wind. We spent the afternoon resting, reading, snacking on the porch after naps + looking through old photo albums, then riding bikes in front of our house while dinner simmered on the stove. Simple things, small things, all the things we can easily take for granted. What a gift it is the have each other, to be together, to work through the hard moments when we are all sharp and fractious, stumbling along in our journey to understand grace, offering quiet sorry’s and long hugs. What a sweetness to just let the work sit, as much as we are able, and let our souls sink down deeper in our faithful God.
I’ve been reading through the Gospels all year. I thought I’d be farther by now, but it has been the sweetest, most powerful journey alone with the Lord, just His Word and I, and I’ve had to go so slow to just savor the beauty of all His Spirit has been speaking to me. I’ve chased whatever rabbit trails He’s told me to, sought for understanding only to find usually more questions and mystery. But I have felt so very near to my Savior and so much more reacquainted with His ways, His agenda, His heart beat.
Lately I’ve been in the first few chapters of Luke. You can’t come to early Luke and not feel like it’s Christmas time. It’s just heavy with the anticipation surrounding that time of year. It’s hard to say which Gospel writer I enjoy best, each so distinct and variegated, but I do think it could be Luke. There’s something about the way he turns a phrase and tells a story.
I’ve often wondered what Jesus was like growing up. After the accounts of His birth, we have no details to fill in the gaps between his birth and his 30’s, other than the singular story of Him, recorded by Luke (2:41-52) of Jesus at age twelve. This singular story recording that time when Mary + Joseph lost Jesus for three days, giving us a glimpse into His boyhood and the mysterious way that He was both fully human and fully divine as a child. Here Luke finds it important to tell us that at age twelve, Jesus was beginning to display His independence, His God-ness, His otherness a bit more. His wisdom astounded the leaders + teachers in the synagogue. He was already beginning to be aware that He had to be about His Father’s work. He was already beginning to move away from dependence on His earthly parents with a growing awakening to His calling, a strength, a focus, a settledness and resolve. Yet, when His parents scolded Him in their great relief to have found Him, the Scriptures tell us He submitted Himself to them. Willingly, He submitted His God-ness to live under their human, yet God-given, authority.
From this point on, in every Gospel account, we don’t see Jesus do a thing until He has first been baptized by John the Baptizer and the Holy Spirit descends upon Him. Every work of Jesus thereafter recorded in the Scriptures flows from the infilling of the Holy Spirit, an outpouring from within. His work is preceded by His baptism, the Father’s pronouncement of Sonship + good pleasure over Him. This is how His work begins. This is where our work must begin also. First, our own house in order. First, our own soul. First, our own rootedness + settledness in our identity as His dearly loved child. First, our own experience of His love lavished on us.
Then all our work can flow from the awareness that He is the orchestrator behind it, the generator of it. The sustainer of us in it. Then, and only then, our identity is not dependent on our work or our success, but in that deeply personal work He has already accomplished in us in the secret place with Him. This frees us up from striving for a name, striving for an outcome, being crippled by the negative response of others–whether that be indifference, unpopularity, misunderstanding, or plain criticism. Only when we know we are settled securely in the Father’s love + good-pleasure over us do we really have anything to pour out onto others.
“A voice came from heaven, ‘You are my beloved Son, with you I am well-pleased.'”
How He would need these words in the days to come. He went straight up out of the waters of this moment into the bone dry heat of the desert to fast and be tempted by Satan for 40 days and nights. How He would need those words to draw upon in order to finish His course, in all the ways that the coming days would test His certainty of His Father’s love and good-pleasure over Him. How He would need those words when He hung on the cross in His bleakest and most desperate moment, when He would cry out, “Father, why have You forsaken Me?”
Maybe you need those words today, too, in your Tuesday work. In your ordinary moments and your boring mundane. In the tasks that you are putting your hand to, the hidden work that no one sees, the uncelebrated and passed-over, the thankless efforts. May He speak His love over you today as you head into a new week. May your own soul be at rest in Him, so that you can abide in that place even while heading into the fray.
Summer is coming to a quiet little end around here, melting sleepily away into chilly morning air. (We still have a beach trip planned, so I’m hoping some warmth hangs around for a little while longer!) The goldenrod are blazing their signal, summer giving way to fall.
This next picture was taken by Phoebe:
These three were taken by Noah:
I love seeing their little happy fingers holding the camera and clicking away. I love seeing their perspective.