“Now choose life, so that you and your children may live and that you may love the Lord your God, listen to his voice, and hold fast to him. For the Lord is your life…” –Deuteronomy 30:19b-20
I’m going to speak plain.
I’ve been tripping over poetry and metaphors for the last few months. Sometimes I have enjoyed the craft. Other days, it has been frustrating because I want to say what I mean.
For reals, okay?
Last Sunday during communion (Yes, sometimes I still call it that instead of eucharist because I was raised in fundamental evangelicalism. Other times I feel all Anglicany and go with eucharist. You know what I mean…), I was startled.
Nothing major, other than I looked slightly to my left and spotted a little girl looking right at me. Piercing gaze. She was barely higher than the sixth pew, where we sat, and was ready to receive the bread with everything in her. I could tell. When it was almost her turn, her father had to pull her back because she almost jumped in front of the person just before her. Not once did she put her hands down. She held them out in receiving position.
I watched her with a lump in my throat.
See, there are many Christians, lots of them close to my age, talking about how they weren’t allowed to ask questions in church or to have doubts growing up and that’s what keeps them away now. Me? I just wanted to be with Jesus. I wanted to run to Him all the time. I wasn't so much worried about doubts. I think I knew that church was a bridge to God, that sacred place where I could receive, and I was ready to be there. Every. Single. Sunday.
I could have cared less about sports or school. I wanted church.
I don’t think I ever could have explained that to someone when I was in elementary school, and this was way before the age when guilt was handed out for missing youth group on a random Sunday. It wasn’t coercion.
It was a source of life.
My feelings about Sundays now come in waves. They vacillate between wanting to be there so much that I nearly run over people on my way in the doors to I can’t do it. I can’t even drive myself to the building. Sometimes, I can’t be in that place because it reminds me of broken promises and expectations and another life altogether that I thought might be what God had for me.
My days are similar. I waver between brief moments of delight and long spirals of regret. The last couple of weeks, I thought the feelings of lament might overtake me. That darkness and death of dreams and all that Satan wants for my life might be my complete undoing.
I prayed for a new outlook. For a source of life that would keep me going each day.
Then there was this about being weary and wounded.
Followed by my reading this beautiful expression of spiritual warfare.
And I remember using the word “defeated” and right at that moment a poster on Pinterest popped up that said, “Never be defeated. Never give up.” And I thought about laughing aloud at God’s sense of humor.
Apparently, You heard me? I chuckled under my breath.
There was this about godforsakeness.
And Kaelyn laughing for no apparent reason on the way to school and Kyla learning, ever so slowly, how to pack her own lunch. She beams when she’s finally accomplished this new feat each evening.
There was also the walk I took outside yesterday when I couldn’t stop staring at the mountains or the only-in-Colorado-could-it-be-that-shade-of-blue skies.
And last but not least, I was reminded of this sitting on my shelf. Morning pages are saving my life right now.
Joshua told the Israelites to choose life. That is what I’m doing. In the midst of the dry and dead moments, I’m choosing life. I can do this because He is life. I can run to Him in those places of inspiration, inside and outside of the church walls, because He defeated death. He looked it right in the face and knocked it down on its ass.
No one has that kind of power to fight for life and to fight for me. No. one.
So, I think I get it. Maybe just a little more here and there, in the moments of my days that seem to be growing longer and more often. And I can say this today:
I choose life.