Ahhhh…. it was a slow, quiet Saturday morning as Dan and I anticipated a brisk autumn day to get some yardwork done. While pulling on my jeans and flannel jacket, a withered, dehydrated wildflower flopped out of the button-hole– and suddenly my heart leaped at the thought of Finn, my 3 year old grandson, lisping, “Woses are wred, vioyets are byue; sugar is sweet and so are you!” as he handed the flower to me during our family time at our firepit last weekend.
My fingernails– scuffed with the remnants of white nailpolish (that turns pink in the sunlight)– gave the same sensation when I noticed how messy they were, touching the wilted little flower. Six-year-old granddaughter Sadie had concentrated so diligently this past week when she painted them, along with my toenails (one foot in glittery pink, the other in a completely different shade of non-glitter. It’s taken all week for me to even consider removing the polish…)
Imperfections? For sure! Yet like the Psalmist David, they forced me to muse that “…the lines have fallen for me in pleasant places”– and I drew a deep breath, amazed at the picture of God.
That phrase– “…the lines have fallen for me in pleasant places…”– has been in my mind a lot lately as my siblings and I recently celebrated our mother’s 90th birthday. The Psalm was deeply on my mind as I thought about my mother’s long years… “The Lord is my chosen portion and my cup; You hold my lot. The lines have fallen for me in pleasant places; indeed, I have a beautiful inheritance…”
This particular Psalm (16: 5,6) was written by David. You remember David, right?… the guy who committed adultery, then murdered to cover it up; the guy who’s beloved little son fell sick and died; the guy who spent much of his life hiding from a tormented king and an army bent on seeing him dead… Yes, that David! David’s life seemed to be a long chain of one flaw or frightening adversity after another… and yet he’s the same psalmist who wrote, “the lines have fallen for me in pleasant places…” ???
Frankly, I would have expected a completely different scenario from somebody who would pen such a phrase. And not surprisingly, in her own 90 years, my Mom has also seen some really tough times– not because that generation had it tougher than we do today. (They didn’t.) And not because she had to work harder than we do now. (Work is always hard, though it might look different.) And not because her experiences were uniquely difficult. (They’re common to mankind, actually.) Mom’s life was sometimes hard because it’s “life”… and life’s not perfect. It’s flawed.
Tough things happen along with the good things, for all of us. In Matthew 5:45, Jesus reminded us that,“Your Father who is in heaven… sends rain on the just and the unjust.” I repeat: The rain falls on the unjust…and the just. The “just” still fall. We still sin. Good things and bad things happen, even to the “just.” As long as we are in this world, there will be flaws along with the good, adversities along with the triumphs. Yet even so, for those whose “lot” is held by the Sovereign and faithful God, it’s so true that– “…the lines have fallen for me in pleasant places…” How can this be?
It seems like an unlikely paradox, and yet nothing made this more understandable to me than something that Joni Eareckson Tada had written about. A quadraplegic, she was feeling the sickening affects of chemotherapy as she fought cancer, and in her misery, she blurted out to her husband Ken that some adversities in life must be splash-overs from hell. The comment surprised them both, and set them both quietly wondering– if these tough times were indeed splashovers from hell, then what would the splashovers from heaven be? Obviously, as I read about it, I immediatelty considered what the “splashovers from heaven” might be in life: grandchildren…a great marriage…good jobs…comfortable homes…and I felt suddenly smacked on the side of the head when I continued to read Joni’s observation that, “the splashovers from heaven are when we find God in the splashovers from hell.”
And that’s exactly it.
Life isn’t flawless for any of us. But if we can indeed “find God” – find His forgiveness, find His answers, find His peace, find His transforming power, find His strength and His faithful presence walking through it with us in the flaws… then life is good. Not “apart from” or “in spite of” the rough spots, but –just like I saw in the flawed and imperfect offerings from my grandkids– it’s the flaws themselves that reveal the treasure. We can see God in them. And when we do, it’s true–looking right into the imperfections, the flaws, and even the splashovers of hell– we see God. And that’s when we know that we know that “the lines have fallen for me in pleasant places.”
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