from the bottom of a cup

In bible study tonight I posed the question, “How do we slice of the ears of those around us?” Taken out of context this might seem a really odd question, but within the group, not only did it make sense to me to ask, but the participants all had an opinion…
They knew how we do it, how we in churches all over this country do it, perhaps even the world.

The following question drew sharp intakes of breath, as we pondered and reflected on how beautiful it could be if we made a conscious, prayerful decision to put our swords down and stop it.

Tonight as I stared into my cup, this fragile little cup that I used to drink specially made tea that my mother prepared for me. I thought about the indwelling of God in me. How lovely is his dwelling place, O Lord of Hosts to me.

But is the dwelling house lovely if it is my heart? What in my heart needs to change to make it lovely? What areas of my life still need some repair work, or demolition work?

My heart is not a Disney model of a heart, it has been broken many times, it has endured all kinds of assault. This week is such a poignant memorial of a year that never was. The months of back breaking wound care, the hours of weeping when no one else was around. I was inflicting pain on my child, and yes it was to make him better, yes it had to be done, but I was not strong enough to inflict without being concerned that this would never end. The year that was lost, that we mourned for the whole of September last year, will never return. But the year that came in its place was so much better.

I learned many things, one that I was skilled in being a mother of children with disabilities but I had no skills in being a mother of a sick child. I could not have done the things that had to be done without prayer, without the presence of God in my every movement, in every dab of hydrogen peroxide and vials of betadine. As I passed tissues to wipe the eyes of the contorted body, I returned to inflict searing pain. I argued with God throughout, I had people telling me this was sent to test me. ME! My child lying in agony was all about me. I don’t think so. And I didn’t want to follow a god that would do that. Others said it was the devil’s work to stop me in exploring my call. ME! Let the devil win, rather than inflict any more pain.

But it was neither of these things. It was a condition, part of the syndrome, nothing to do with me. The test was finding the time in all the dressings and baths to spend time alone with God.
Some days I barely managed it, others were filled with space, to explore and experience the living God. At some point in the year, a vacation was taken, it felt like God had left his dwelling place within me, I was bereft, set adrift with no anchor. But God had not left me, and I learned to turn the dial and re-tune as we sang a different duet together.

In the small hours of the morning when there is no sound in the house and I become aware of my breathing in and out, my pulse racing and then slowing down, racing then slowing down. As each heart beat gets slower reaching down past 50bpm, that is when I am most aware of His presence. As sleep is about to overcome me, and I experience the cossetting of a Loving Father, the embrace of a friend, and the caress of the comforter. My cup runneth over with joy.

Psalm 84

How lovely is your dwelling-place,
    Lord Almighty!
My soul yearns, even faints,
    for the courts of the Lord;
my heart and my flesh cry out
    for the living God.
Even the sparrow has found a home,
    and the swallow a nest for herself,
    where she may have her young –
a place near your altar,
    Lord Almighty, my King and my God.
Blessed are those who dwell in your house;
    they are ever praising you.
Blessed are those whose strength is in you,
    whose hearts are set on pilgrimage.
As they pass through the Valley of Baka,
    they make it a place of springs;
    the autumn rains also cover it with pools.
They go from strength to strength,
    till each appears before God in Zion.
Hear my prayer, Lord God Almighty;
    listen to me, God of Jacob.
Look on our shield, O God;
    look with favour on your anointed one.
10 Better is one day in your courts
    than a thousand elsewhere;
I would rather be a doorkeeper in the house of my God
    than dwell in the tents of the wicked.
11 For the Lord God is a sun and shield;
    the Lord bestows favour and honour;
no good thing does he withhold
    from those whose way of life is blameless.
12 Lord Almighty,
    blessed is the one who trusts in you.