Monday, August 08, 2005

When Things Come Together

Sometimes we can try too hard.

I asked my daughter if she would do the cover for my next devotional book. She agreed with enthusiasm and asked what I wanted. I tried to express what I was thinking. Laura took the idea and started playing with it. She works for a printer who was gracious enough to let her go in and use the computer there, with its up-to-date programs.

Laura played and played and played some more. Her first efforts were discouraging, both to her and to me. Then she hit on one I thought would work. She didn't seem overly thrilled with it, but I wanted to get everything off to the printer, so we were both feeling a bit pressured. We agreed we'd go with what she had done.

She started to walk out of my office, then shyly said, "Mom, next time I think it would be better to try a different concept."

"Huh?" I replied.

She tried to explain what she meant. I wasn't getting it.
"Show me," I said.

She sat down at my computer and opened one of her folders. She started clicking through photos and graphics and finally picked a photo a friend had taken at the beach this summer. Then she started putting the cover together, explaining what she was thinking as she did it.

It was one of those moments we mothers have now and then when we realize through some miracle we have birthed a wonderfully gifted child whose talents we have barely glimpsed. I stood with my mouth agape. In about 30 minutes Laura produced a cover that, to use a cliche, knocked my socks off.

"Will Steve let you use this photo?" I asked. It was Laura's turn to be surprised. "You like it?"
"I love it. I want it. Can we use it?"

Steve said yes and the rest, as they say, is history. Or will be, once the book is printed.
As we looked at the final product we both laughed at how we'd struggled. She was trying to please me and I was trying not to discourage her, but neither of us were happy.

Somehow I think it's like that with me and God sometimes. I try hard, but know I'm not quite hitting the mark. He keeps encouraging me to keep trying. And then, every once in a while things come together - my efforts, His will and grace, His purposes. It's usually when I finally say, "God, show me." I'm always surprised when He does. It's always exciting because I want to shout - "I love it. I want it. Can I use it?" Oh me of little faith.

I imagine He just smiles and nods and knows that's the way it's meant to be. Someday it won't be such a struggle. Someday I'll know His mind and heart as completely as He knows mine. Some day it will all come together.

Friday, August 05, 2005

God's Connections

This tale goes back a while. A few years, in fact, when my husband said one day, "I'd like to go to India." To be honest it made me shiver. India. It brings disturbing thoughts to mind - uncomfortable thoughts about crowded streets and unbearable heat, desperate hands reaching and pleading eyes that won't let me sleep.
But God seems to have given us connections.
There's a man over there who considers our church his "home church" in North America. He's been in churches all across Canada and the U.S., but he picked us. We're the winners in that match.
There's a woman who recently wrote in response to one of my columns. I didn't know at first that she lives in India. Surprise surprise.
Bud, the President of our church's Association, goes to India every year. He likes to take pastors with him. He starting talking to my husband about it a few years ago, just after he voiced that simple sentence that made me shiver.
At our last church conference Bud showed some pictures and talked a little about the group he goes with - Partners International. After the presentation, Spence made a bee-line for him just as he was making a bee-line for Spence. They started talking at the same time. Spence was saying, "Put my name down," as Bud was saying, "I think you should go."
Spence wants me to go too. I know what Papua New Guinea did to me, so this was my first prayer - "God. I'm not sure I can handle India."
But then there's a woman who recently wrote in response to one of my columns. I didn't know at first that she lives in India. Surprise surprise. And then I clicked into a website today to check up on an old friend and quess what's on the website - her jounals about a recent trip to India. I had no idea. God did.

So I'm praying again. "God. Help me handle India."