‘Things are seldom what they seem; skim milk masquerades as cream…’ so sings Buttercup in Gilbert and Sullivan’s operetta. These words have been running through my mind the last few weeks…lyrics written long ago and yet so true. It reminds me of God’s directives on how we should look at life, constantly reminding ourselves that the here and now is not reality. That’s a foreign thought in a world where social media has become truth and success is measured by how many ‘likes’ a given post gets. We are all content to be instant celebrities and live for that feeling of positive affirmation we so deny we enjoy. The reality shows that aren’t real, are no different than our own lives. The sad truth is, it’s hard to remember that. It’s easy to get wrapped up in the artificiality of 21st century life. Never, in the history of man, have we had opportunity to say so much and been capable of saying so little. We are presently immersed in the melodrama of each other’s lives to such an extent that it seems we will not escape. But God….ah, there it is. God is real and if there’s one thing we can count on in this silly world, it’s that He remains. He’s seen it all— what was, and is, and is to come. As the catechism says, He has always been. He has neither beginning nor end. When all the kerfuffle and foolishness of our present society passes away, He will still be there. And then, then we will understand. The truth that has somehow been covered up by all the foolishness of mankind, will shine through. In the end, it will all be about God, as was always intended. (The chief end of man IS to glorify God, correct?) Right now, poor souls, we are wrapped up in our little lives, not quite understanding and ever yearning, but God…yes, the all powerful, ever present creator of the universe is there. Always. Now, that’s reality!Now we see through a glass dimly (not understanding), but then (in heaven) face to face. Now I know in part, but then I shall know even as I also am known.(He knows me, personally, every little thing.) I Cor. 13:12
I shall start this musing with a direct quote from my son Danny. Dan is an interesting young man. He graduated high school a year early, then got a BA in Spanish while nearly completing a minor in French, and picking up some Chinese, German, and Biblical Greek along the way. Now he’s 21 years old, and teaching English in China. This is what he posted on our private “Family Talk” thread on facebook:
“Wow. Nostalgia overload. Just finished watching Cinderella with my nice students here in Jingjiang, and the combination of nostalgia, loneliness (created by the language barrier), tiredness (the heater workmen woke me up 2 hours earlier than usual), and some truly nuggety middle schoolers this afternoon– I had my first and only solid cry since coming to China. I miss you guys, but I also miss the old version of you guys, and the old (i.e. little kid) version of myself. Ah… the passage of time– so depressing.”
My response to Dan’s post was, “I miss us, too!” I feel increasingly like this. I love and thoroughly enjoy my kids as young adults, but there are times when I quite piercingly miss my little ones. Laughing at the memory of an old prank or a formerly mispronounced word can bring tears to my eyes. Looking at old pictures can be downright disastrous. I have a slew of old photos and other memorabilia that sorely needs sorting, organizing, putting in scrapbooks, perhaps, and I’ve been very busily putting it off.
And I suffer from a double layer of this condition at Christmas time. Memories of our beautiful tree in the corner of the living room back at the farm, the popcorn balls and fudge Mommy would make every Christmas Eve while we trimmed the tree, trying to sit still and pay attention as Daddy ended the evening with a reading of the Christmas story from Matthew and Luke (and spending a good part of the reading admiring the tree through squinted eyes,) then my four sisters and me all crowded in Mom and Dad’s bed, where we slept each Christmas Eve night. And as we lay there, giggly and excited, our wonderful daddy’s voice coming up the stovepipe hole, “Ho! Ho! Ho!”
Yes, I miss us! I miss melting tinsel strands on the big, old style Christmas tree lights with my sister Kathy. I miss watching our daddy put on each article of clothing he received, so that he grew fatter and fatter as the gift opening progressed. I miss the orange in the toe of my red stocking, and the popcorn ball in the heel. I miss the ribbon candy, and the trays of dried fruit someone or other sent us each year. I miss my mommy and my daddy, and the constant togetherness I once took so completely for granted.
Yes, I miss us! I double miss us! And I find myself longing for a time and a place where my mother will get to hear my daughter sing, where my children can laugh at my daddy’s dry humor, where the joy and wonder of my childhood and my children’s childhood will somehow be all there together. CS Lewis once wrote, “If I find in myself a desire which no experience in this world can satisfy, the most probable explanation is that I was made for another world.” This is definitely such a desire. An impossible desire – ridiculous and unreasonable, by normal earthly standards. But that’s my desire. An out-of-this-world desire that can only be satisfied outside of this world.
And it’s appropriate, I guess, that this desire is strongest at Christmas time. We are remembering the birth of an out-of-this-world Child. He once said, “I go to prepare a place for you.” Ah, such a place it must be! Where time is no more. But now, for a while, I miss us. Oh, how I miss us!
Hope. One syllable. 4 letters.
It seems like as I grow older I see sorrow all around me. Let’s face it. This world is filled with broken people.
Parents see their children walking headlong away from God. Their shoulders sag with the weight of it all.
A wife loses her husband in what was supposed to be the happy, relaxed retirement years. She is lonely, sad and overwhelmed.
A family faces the death of a beloved child. Cancer has taken another and we are left bereft. Children see their parents grow old and feeble – and sometimes feeble minded as well. It is not easy. We live in a fallen world. Hard and sad things happen
. I wish I could grab handfuls of hope and give them out – like bouquets from an endless meadow. Or pass around blankets of hope for people to wrap themselves in so they could be warmed and comforted.
But hope isn’t something you can hold in your hand. You hold it in your heart. And it is not something that warms your body; it warms your spirit and keeps you alive.
Hope helps you breathe. It helps you get through the day, through all the days. And the place to find HOPE is in the word of God. CS Lewis says it wonderfully. ” Most people, if they had really learned to look into their own hearts, would know that they do want, and want acutely, something that cannot be had in this world. There are all sorts of things in this world that offer to give it to you, but they never quite keep their promise. “At present we are on the outside… the wrong side of the door. We discern the freshness and purity of morning, but they do not make us fresh and pure.
But all the pages of the New Testament are rustling with the rumor that it will not always be so. Someday, God willing, we shall get ‘in’… We will put on glory… that greater glory of which Nature is only the first sketch.”
So if you are looking for true hope that sustains, supports, keeps, encourages and is forward looking, open those ‘leaves’ of the New Testament and find the breaths, whispers, and shouts of hope. This God breathed book beckons to all who are weary and heavy laden. And it shouts, Yes, God is real! Come, know Him and let Him show you a hope-filled present and a glorious future.
There is a woodsboonie on my kitchen counter, sitting saucily atop the Christmas cactus. Grandfather has given me the heads’ up about woodsboonies. He was well acquainted with them when he was a boy. So when I saw one here in our kitchen I knew what we were up against. Here is what Gramps told me about the dreaded rapscallions.
“When I was a boy the woodsboonies were characters I played with. To tell the truth, I never saw one, except in my mind. In my imagination they looked like cute, little, funny Irish elves. You’ve seen them working in Santa’s workshop. But I never got anything from them for Christmas; they only brought trouble. If I got caught using Dad’s tools or if I spilled paint, it was the woodsboonies who did it. Unfortunately, they never got my punishment.
They were my imaginary friends …. .no names, just woodsboonies…
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