Sunday, March 27, 2022

Keeping His Vows {From the Archives}

There's a different essay I wanted to write for today, but it will have to wait for another time. Instead, in honor of my Amore's birthday, please enjoy this but from the archives. This is from the blog's earliest days, but he's still here and still providing for my needs... new diagnoses, a surgery per year, always reaching our out-of-pocket maximum on health insurance, and all the other joys of chronic illness. Thanks be to God that I can sometimes travel now (or could, before COVID) with a lot of extra planning and baggage, and for the time being I can do the laundry and most errands, and I'm able to resume some of the household chores. Autoimmune disease means we know this isn't likely to last, but I'm grateful for a bit more strength for now. God's grace is sufficient.

Happy birthday, Amore! Many, many happy returns of the day. 🤗

Friday at the doctor, when the appointment was all over but the bloodletting, I stood at the nurse's counter waiting for my prescriptions. I cracked a joke, and she laughed and said it was good to see me smiling. It's comforting to see the same nurse and receptionist at every appointment for nearly a decade. Safe. Known.

"Things are better than they were," I said. "Still not pain-free, but better. We're trying one more medication change. It would be really nice if that took me the rest of the way, but..." I shrugged. "Rest is good, too."

"Plus, God has blessed me with a husband who is committed to taking care of me, even when that means doing the things I can't."

She noticed the smile wobbling, looked into my eyes, and quietly said, "He's keeping his vows, Christina. That's what he's doing; he's keeping his vows."

Yes. Yes, he is. That's the kind of man he is, the kind of family which raised him.

It is humbling to receive such faithful love. I neither take it for granted nor deserve it. That's how grace is.

My closest friend from high school has a different chronic illness from mine. Years before I had even met Allen, I stood beside her at her wedding. The vows I witnessed, the "in sickness and in health," grew burdensome on her husband's shoulders. Now she carries the burden of earning a living in addition to that of her health problems. It is humbling to remember that Allen's faithfulness is a choice, a daily decision, and not always the easy one.

There is humility in the keeping of the vows, as well, in the placing of God's will before self, in the living sacrifice of "as You wish"--as the Lord wishes, first; as the beloved wishes, second. I recognize humility in the way Allen helps with the laundry, the errands, the dishes; the accepting extra weekend duties without complaint; the submission of his vocational dreams to my need for stability and health insurance; the relinquishing of vacations and peregrinations until I can go, too. He hasn't yet been required literally to wash my feet, yet he does so every day through his service to me.

He will shrug off these words, echo the nurse, "Just keeping my vows," but that "just" reminds me of Jesus.

Sunday, March 20, 2022

Immeasurable Treasure and True Freedom

"The course of my life is in your power;
Rescue me from the power of my enemies
And from my persecutors.
Make your face shine on your servant;
Save me by your faithful love."
Psalm 31:15-16, CSB

"Many are the the fiery darts of the evil one, but our shield is one. Though the javelins of the foe were dipped in the venom of hell, yet our one shield of faith would hold us harmless, casting them off from us. Thus David had the grand resource of faith in the hour of danger. He uttered a glorious claim, the greatest claim man has ever made: 'I say, "You are my God."'

He that can say, 'This kingdom is mine,' makes a royal claim.

He that can say, 'This mountain of silver is mine,' makes a wealthy claim.

But he that can say to the Lord, 'You are my God,' has said more than all monarchs and millionaires can speak. What more can we have?

We do not have the world, but we have the Maker of the world, and that is far more. There is no measuring the greatness of that treasure….

"[David] was not shut up by the hands of the enemy, but his feet stood in a large room, for he was in a space large enough for the ocean, seeing the Lord had placed him in the hollow of his hand. To be entirely at the disposal of God is life and liberty for us."

~Charles H. Spurgeon on Psalm 31

Friday, March 11, 2022

A Psalm for the Suffering


Namer of stars—

You have seen our affliction;

You know the troubles of our souls.

The private pain,

The secret longings,

The deepest shame—

You know them all.

You winnow the thoughts

And motivations of every heart, even those we do not know ourselves.

To you “all hearts are open,

All desires known,

And from You no secrets are hidden.”

Search me, O Lord, and know my heart.

Try me, and know my anxious thoughts.

See where there be any wicked way in me,

Where any earthly thing has wrongly

Ascended the throne of my heart;

Where I have gazed upon the cross,

Shrunk back in fear,

And said, “Not Thy will, but mine be done.”


Keeper of sparrows—

Not a one of these commonest of birds

Falls to the ground

But that You know it.

Not one feather can be plucked from a wing,

But You know its number.

How much more impossible that

No one can snatch Your child

Out of Your hand, O Father,

Or separate Your people from Your love.

The hurricanes of catastrophe,

The most private thorns stabbing our sides—

No calamity of squeeze of affliction can touch us

But that it passes first through You.

You are near to the brokenhearted.

You bandage battered souls.

The afflictions that fall on us

Fall on You.

You walk through fire and flood,

Death’s shadowed valley,

With those who know Your name.

Wounded Savior, ever interceding,

Keep Your people;

Guard Your children.

Permit no weapon formed against us to prosper.

Send out the hosts of heaven to our defense.

When the day dawns and shadows flee,

When Your keeping keeps us all the way

Into Your painless, strifeless, tear-daubed presence,

Take us Home singing praise to You.


Tamer of Leviathan

You can do all things,

And no purpose of Yours can be thwarted.

You who do great things

Have done great things for me.

Holy is Your name.

Your dominion only is everlasting.

Your kingdom only is eternal.

You remove kings and establish kings.

Your ways are inscrutable.

The peoples plot and scheme;

The One enthroned in heaven laughs.

Without dismay,

Without surprise,

Without the wringing of hands,

He speaks to our proud hearts:

            “I have installed My King.

            Pay homage to the Son.

            All who take refuge in Him are happy.”

You alone do what You want, all You want,

With the armies of heaven.

There is no one who can block Your hand

Or say to You, “What have You done?”

You are King of kings

And Lord of lords,

And You are coming soon.

Make no tarrying, O my Lord;

Come quickly to save us.

For You, our King,

Are also our Father.



Namer of stars—

You know.

Keeper of sparrows—

You love.

Tamer of Leviathan—

You reign.

Hallowed be Your name in all the earth.

Saturday, March 5, 2022

Tipsy-topsy Moon

The tipsy topsy turvy bowl
Of waning gibbous moon
Spills out the unceasing hesed of YHWH,
Fresh-brewed mercies for fresh day's needs,
YHWH-Jireh having seen to every desert well
And thicket-caught ram
The children of His covenant require.

*hesed: Hebrew for steadfast love, loyal love, unfailing love, etc.
*YHWH: Hebrew name by which God identified Himself to Moses in Exodus 3:14; "I AM" or "The LORD"
*YHWH-Jireh: "I AM will see to it" or "I AM will provide," in Genesis 22