only help my unbelief

Behind the scenes
December 16, 2008, 11:15 am
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I think I probably shed my first tears over my relationship with Christian within the first week. I don’t remember the exact circumstances, but it was probably the overwhelmed-ness of having found someone so wonderful but who lived what seemed like forever away. Even after two years, six hours in the car each way for a three-day visit was a long time.

There were more tears after that. The first summer we were dating, my emotions ran the gamut of being thrilled to have someone who loved me so much to being terrified that he would leave. He wasn’t always the best about returning phone calls, and as that was our only way to communicate, there was more than one night when I thought his car had probably gone careening off the side of a mountain.

When I’d call him already in the throes of sobbing, he always said the same thing. “I love you. It will be OK. One day, we’ll look back on this and laugh.”

I never believed him. I knew that there would come a time when maybe it would seem like a distant dream, all those tears. Most of the time I got mad at him for being so idealistic.

Since May, when Christian moved to South Carolina, the tears have been less common. Other things make me cry (like Cheaper by the Dozen – the scene where Steve Martin finds his red-haired son on the train – I’m ashamed to admit), but there haven’t been as many shed over him being so far away.

In the past several months, most tears have been tears of frustration over whether or not we would ever be able to get married. In fact, I would venture to say that the months of October and November were my teariest ever.

On November 29, when Christian proposed, and he told me that he had figured out my ring size in September, and that he had spoken with my dad on Halloween, I was first amazed at his preparation (he’s not known for doing things in advance).

Aside from the fact that he kept it all a secret even when I was crying my hardest, I have been amazed to think that all those times, there was no need to cry. Christian had everything orchestrated to propose. When people would ask about our relationship, I would quickly respond that we were working on it, even though I wasn’t sure that we were.

It’s amazing to think that’s how God looks at us. He sees our tears, and He knows why we’re crying. He catches our tears in a bottle, even though He knows there’s no reason to cry.

And in the middle of tears, sometimes, He blesses us with things that we don’t deserve.

After the last tear falls, there is love. – Andrew Peterson


Do I need to live?
April 14, 2008, 1:04 am
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A few weeks ago while running I was listening to the song “All My Tears,” originally by Emmy Lou Harris, but covered by Jars of Clay on their most recent album “Good Monsters.” I was struck by the lyrics:

When I go, don’t cry for me;
In my Father’s arms I’ll be.
The wounds this world left on my soul
Will all be healed, and I’ll be whole.
Sun and moon will be replaced
With the light of Jesus’ face,
And I will not be ashamed,
For my Savior knows my name.

It don’t matter where you bury me;
I’ll be home, and I’ll be free
It don’t matter where I lay:
All my tears will be washed away.

I’ve been thinking about those lyrics a lot, about not being afraid to die. And then this morning, my pastor preached on Colossians 2:8:

See to it that no one takes you captive through philosophy and empty deception, according to the tradition of men, according to the elementary principles of the world, rather than according to Christ.

He went through some of the “traditions of men” that keep us from sanctification, and then he started talking about the elementary principles of the world. “Elementary” is the Greek word that connotes the basics, the ABCs, he said, and so in that verse God is referring to the things the world automatically assumes is right and true.

One of the elementary principles he mentioned was only having as many children as you think you can afford. He said that one of the primary reason for having only 2.5 children is economic, and, ultimately, selfish. That’s a topic for another day and another post, but the principle that hit me the most this morning was the following:

I have to live.

The world says living is the most important thing. You should step on people, manipulate and take advantage if it keeps you alive and improves your quality of life. But we don’t have to live our lives in such a way that our desire to live is first and foremost. In fact, we should live as though we are prepared to die at any moment.

I don’t live like that. I fear the opinions of men, even though on their worst days they wouldn’t kill me for the things I do or say that resemble Christ. And so I know that if the threat were death, apart from God I would never be able to act in such a way that might get me killed.

And so my prayer for this week is to not be taken captive by the principle that I have to live. I want to give up the whole world and gain my soul, that I might be more like Christ.

Don’t forget to taste and see that the Lord is good.