The Old Person We Will Become
- Saturday, January 12, 2008
As a person experienced in working with flax, Rahab knew that in order to get at the strong inner fibers that can be used to produce beautiful linen cloth, the outer layer of the stalk must be stripped away. She would have known how to carefully hammer away the rotted outer layer to expose what was of value underneath. Perhaps she marveled to see how the hardship of her life had been designed, not to destroy her, but to lay bare the strong fiber in her and to weave it into a grand and glorious design.
The traditional stain-glass window, pious picture of the contemplative saint at prayer tells only part of the story of what it means to be faithful. Faithfulness also means rolling up your sleeves, doing what needs to be done, and, by God’s grace, making it an act of sacrifice to Him.
Many a saint may look pious in retrospect, but in the heat of the moment, where action was imperative, most saints were merely gritty, ordinary human beings doing what needed doing all the while giving thanks to God that He entrusted them with the task.
Likewise, the vast majority of the time, you and I are not called for heroic martyrdom, either. Instead, we are called for the sweaty work of shouldering responsibility and doing the mundane tasks required to meet the needs of those who depend upon us. It’s the 2 a.m. feeding when you don’t see how you can pull yourself out of the bed. It’s the endless laundry, the meals, the committee meetings, or the two jobs. It’s coaching little league on top of working full-time. It’s teaching a Sunday School class on your only day off.
Further, it is a vision of these tasks as opportunities to please God!
It is true enough that Rahab had one heroic moment, but for the rest of her life, she was a wife and the mother of Boaz. BOTH were expressions of her faithfulness. Both stemmed from a correct understanding of who God is – which is our starting point for understanding who we are and what we are to do and who we are to be.
Like those ugly geodes that look like ordinary rocks until they are broken open, sometimes it takes a blow to reveal what is on the inside. Inside the cavity of a geode are gorgeous crystals of various glittering colors that shine like jewels in the sunlight. A shattering blow can reveal what is inside a person much as a shattered stone can reveal crystals or dust at its core. When life brings a devastating or despairing situation – as it inevitably does – our inner character will be revealed as worthless dust or a strong, shining jewel.
The women at the two churches where I recently spoke were tremendously moved by the following poem written by my mother over 20 years ago. My mother and father are the ones who taught me the importance of trusting God. Mother is a beautiful, warm, gracious, generous, active and accomplished woman who looks far younger than her age. And, more importantly, as she prayed she would, at 80-years-of-age, mother reflects Christ’s image and is full of God’s graces.
The Old Woman in My Future
Ruth Baird Shaw
Someday, somehow, somewhere in time
She’s waiting, I will see
An old woman, time is making
Time is making, out of me!
Will she be a sad complainer
A fretful tenant of the earth?
Or a kind, productive person
Filled with happiness and mirth?
Please be patient, God is making
Molding slowly, out of me
A shining portrait, He has promised.
Just you wait and see.
He is smoothing out the roughness
Polishing the dreary places
Filling life with joy and gladness
Pouring out His gifts and graces.
God remake me, in Your image.
I want to like her, when I see
That old woman, time is making.
Time is making, out of me.
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