I think somewhere in some blog post this year I have mentioned that the touchstone word, the banner flying wildly over my head, and the message beating fast in my heart has been this : sacrifice. self-giving.
The Lord dropped this seed in my heart in a new way through Grafton’s little life. He is the sweetest baby, and maybe all mommas say that about each one of their babes, me included, but Grafton is something else. (Mommas say that, too, I know.) Grafton is hallmarked by peaceful sweetness, blue eyes big, imploring, looking, loving you. He’s gentle, he’s calm.
And in the wild that life has been over the last 10/11 months, the Lord promised Grafton to me, fulfilled His promise, and my cup runs over, Grafton’s sweetness seeping into my heart, steaming any hard place melted in a puddle, gazing back into his baby blues.
The seed has grown and taken root – Christ is Life, the Hope of Glory – and the Servant, the Given, the Sacrifice, has spread its roots out broad and deep in the soil-bed of my soul. I remember the tilling, the planting, the watering. Tilling – Tyler gone in Turkey, sitting in my closet floor telling the Lord and telling Tyler I didn’t think I could do it anymore, he’s gotta come home (what are we doing this crazy ministry for!?); planting – laboring in the hot August sun, sandals walking the straight, flat, white pavement, pain coming on strong and consistent; the watering – being saved by the Lord, my husband, a firm doctor, a vivacious nurse, through them looking on to his little life, calm and held by the Lord, sleeping in the see-through plastic hospital crib.
And the roots spread – the book laid sideways staring me in the face, it’s solid navy cover pierced with the gold words “A Chance to Die” and I would whiz by, laundry to hang, calling a child to come, picking up another in my arms, answering cries and pleas, and ‘mommy.’ The stare was a signal, a reminder, a call to recognize – this is your chance to die. It’s not out there, over there, across the sea somewhere… it’s right here, in your own home, inside of your own soul, … die to self. live for others, live for these littles’ lives.
And now, almost a year through, we are in the last traveling-week of the summer, a summer of rain storms, heavy heat, and long waits. I am planning Grafton’s first birthday, I am making way for life to live on in our little home, and I pray through the growth pain, Lord, grow me upright and strong, a good trunk, withstanding the wild, solid for the days ahead.
Have you ever seen the inside of a tree? The rings that tell how many years the tree lived? And the person showing you usually can tell you, ‘See this ring? this year, the tree got a lot of water…the year, the tree did not.’ Well, in the same way, I pray that as I grow, strong and solid, upright in the Lord, branching out to bear His fruit and provide shade and rest, mercy (who would think I would ever provide mercy for anyone!? – but this is what the Lord has for me, if I will only live in Him) that each year of my life, one more ring, displays His goodness in my life, rain pouring down, a year of dry drought, but then another year, the Lord faithful, year after year, ring after ring, growing up and big, round with life and branches strong, holding heavy fruit of love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control. (Again, a mystery and a miracle if it should ever come to pass, I pray it will, by His grace and His desire…)
In this root-spreading, trunk-strengthening season of my life, it’s the day in, day out rhythm of wild and crazy, mundane and multi-tasking, it is His Word that waters and nourishes, sustains and gives any and all life. And it is as He gives me Himself, and I go forward in my day, giving myself, that life grows and matures, grows up and become little men, sapling for the Lord. And life and life again is planted and grown and spread out all of us together lifting our branches to the sun, to the glory of the Lord.
… and the sacrifice was worth it. wasn’t really a sacrifice after all.