The little brown library is right in downtown Wasilla, and Finnegan was tucked in the babywrap while we wandered the aisles, just us. We have some kiddos at home who have been testing the limits of my sanity lately and any chance to get some time away is cold water to the thirsty. I ended up in the same section I always do – and nope, it wasn’t parenting, self-help, psychology, or substance abuse.
It’s literature. The classics, the poetry and essays, the biographies of authors and their collections in an aisle four feet wide and full of rest; and I stood in the middle of it, swaying Finn to sleep as the old floor creaked under my left foot.
I was among friends here: Twain, Dickens, Alcott, Wilder. Even without reading all of their histories, I know the people by their works and we are kindred. They have stared down blank sheets of paper without having all the answers, and won.
Their biographies, autobiographies, and memoirs were right in front of me. I wondered how hard it must be to come up with a title for these — what phrase sums up a person’s life? What few words do you choose?
And He started speaking to me about 2016, this blank sheet right in front of us. It is a decisive year for our family, our church, and our community. It’s also a pivotal year for our nation.
What am I doing as a mom to influence the Kingdom? What is our mission as parents? As adoptive and special needs parents? We can’t make choices for our kids, determine their course, or ensure that they will follow Jesus, change the world, thrive in life, or even brush their teeth. These are all choices they have to make.
But our reach is deep and wide. We have the great leverage of influence, both at home and in our culture. We educate ourselves and our children. We create the atmosphere of our homes and communities, and sometimes, we have to fight to maintain that atmosphere against sabotage. And we intercede as though every prayer is water to the thirsty, filling an ever-broadening lake for the lost and wandering.
What phrase sums up a person’s life? What few words do you choose?
In fact, because Christ said we could only get into His world by being like children, many Christians have the idea that, provided you are “good,” it does not matter being a fool. But that is a misunderstanding….Christ never meant that we were to remain children in intelligence: on the contrary, He told us to be not only “as harmless as doves,” but also “as wise as serpents.” He wants a child’s heart, but a grown up’s head. He wants us to be simple, single-minded, affectionate, and teachable, as good children are; but He also wants every bit of intelligence we have to be alert at its job, and in first-class fighting trim.
– C.S. Lewis, Mere Christianity
This is the year of deep and wide for us: stretching further down and reaching further out than we’re used to, submitting to expansion and trusting for big things.
This is the year we fill the blank sheet in front of us with three focused objectives in a greater measure than ever before: The calling to pray, educate ourselves, and change the atmosphere around us through worship.
By wisdom a house is built,
and by understanding it is established;
by knowledge the rooms are filled
with all precious and pleasant riches.
A wise man is full of strength,
and a man of knowledge enhances his might,
for by wise guidance you can wage your war,
and in abundance of counselors there is victory.
– Proverbs 24:3-6, ESV
They read from the Book of the Law of God, making it clear and giving the meaning so that the people understood what was being read.
Nehemiah 8:8, NIV
What if this is the year that shows that no election or ruling, no circumstance or special need, no loss or persecution separates us from the One who made us more than conquerors? What if this is the year that takes the deeps and shallows of our history, and shows us how He flips them for His glory? Because the nails went deep and the arms stretched wide, and the shredded body that the enemy thought was defeated actually brought life, redemption, and power. Dunamis.
This is the year that trains us to dig deep and wide into His presence, conveying the atmosphere of heaven to earth, because we are not overpowered by the blankness. We are bringing life to it.