It’s a Wednesday and I’m eating lunch at a Brazilian restaurant. The pastor at the table offers to pray over the meal and I whisper a grace to myself “It’s okay. Not a big deal.” The cynicism in my head is exhausted by this image of myself as a person who prays at restaurants. The part of me that wants to be past the thick of the cynicism is even more exhausted that I still fight these kinds of battles. I hear the words in my ear, kind of dimly. A prayer thanking God for bringing us (the four of us friends) to Oklahoma City. I softly raise my own heart to God for just a moment “I’m not so sure about that part. Give me time, please”. It’s a sentiment that will be summed up by a friend who deals with my cynicism as “thanks?”. Thanks? for bringing me here? For starting me back at square one? That question mark contains a lot.
It contains the security alarm that rang for two hours yesterday while I let the repairman in an out of the house. It contains the way it feels when I can’t see my best friends every day. It contains the paralyzing knowledge that I will not be at Woodway this Sunday. But it also contains a new freedom, school that may hold my interest, a city with Brazilian restaurants, and a really delightful t-shirt reading “love thy neighborHOOD” (which might be my favorite piece of clothing of all time…except for my chacos)
I’ve done a shoddy job of being glad to be here. I’ve given lip service to God, telling Him I’m glad to be here while I compare every last detail hypercritically to the way things used to be. I tend to try to assign value by the crater something leaves. We were real friends if you try hard enough to keep in touch. The experience mattered if I hang a picture of it on my wall. The class mattered if I keep the textbook for future reference. Does it echo around in the hollow places in my heart? Do my thoughts catch when I think on it? There’s no way to value Oklahoma like that. The past here is separate from the present here. And this new adventure hasn’t had time to settle in or to leave a mark.
God doesn’t assign value like that. Like Propaganda puts it “But worth,value, and beauty is not determined by some innate quality, But by the length for which the owner would go to possess them…”A lot had to happen for me to possess these moments. They are valuable not because they are good in and of themselves. For one thing…God saw it fit to take me out of Waco and bring me here for this purpose. For these reasons. For the sake of the cable guy who is coming to my house tomorrow when everything inside of me would prefer to be in Waco with Kayla and Mesha. But I’m here instead. That’s value. Additionally…it cost God to get me here. No, my cynicism and crankiness are not shouting about why Oklahoma City should feel lucky to have me. Not at all, and if we’ve been in touch the last couple days you get that. I’m not valuable for those reasons. But the ransom for my crooked heart was the life of Christ. That’s what it cost to set me free. Jesus left heaven to redeem this tired creation. To whisper in my cynicism and hold me in my anger. Don’t hear me say that’s the only reason Jesus came to earth, but Him coming? That’s the only reason I’m here and still fighting to make something out of this.
“And broken and ugly things just like us are stamped “Excellent”
With ink tapped in wells of divine veins” (that’s more Propaganda. Song’s called “Lofty” and you should listen to it)
Thanks…God, for bringing me here. Thanks with an ellipsis, because I’m not ready for an exclamation point. I’m nowhere near a period, like I’ve got it all together. Instead I’m here waiting, trying to find the value that He has assigned to these moments. Thanks…(and through Your grace, eventually, I’ll mean it).