Friday, October 15, 2010
Swing and turn, Live and learn
About a year and a half ago, I wrote this article for my MOPS group (Mothers of Preschoolers). It was entitled "Jubilee," based on the lyrics of an old folk song, reborn by Elizabeth Mitchell on one of her CD's for children. Since I wrote this, I've thought of it many times; the message that God spoke to me through this song and the insight He gave me from these lyrics continue to challenge my perspective. I'm here again, in the spot where these words were first spun together in my heart. I need the message again. I thought maybe you would too.
In honor of the song and its message, my friend Shauna and I will be selling this banner (and many others) at the Mariners Boutique coming up. The word in itself is a banner in my life, and perhaps the message of Jubilee will resonate with you as well.
. . .
If I had no horse to ride,
I’d be found a crawlin’
Up and down this rocky road
Lookin’ for my darlin’.
Swing and turn, jubilee.
Live and learn, jubilee.
How difficult it is to know another person. In fact, who truly knows you but God? Can you say with confidence that another person on this earth really understands who you are and why you are here? Perhaps your mother has a good guess, or your best friend presumes to know. But often we are merely looking for one another and waiting to be found.
This is especially true in marriage. If it is difficult to understand another human being, how much harder and more perplexing is it to understand a member of the opposite sex? They are wholly other than you, and created for totally different purposes. If you were like me, you signed up for a marriage expecting to be found, or known, in a way I know now is reserved only for the Lord. Intimacy between two people – two innately broken people - can only go so far. It is part of the reason why this earth will never feel like home; unlike heaven, this place has rocky roads, upon which we are constantly crawling, looking for each other.
A portion of an old folk song entitled “Jubilee” is above. My thesaurus gives synonyms for “jubilee”: celebration, festival. And if you read the lyrics, you’ll see the instant dichotomy. There is at the start a sense of loss and pain and longing, followed by references to dancing and celebrating. If I am figuratively crawling along a rocky road, in other words making an excruciating effort, to connect with a person whom I love, I am not celebrating.
Why did the author of this song juxtapose those two concepts, celebration and hardship? From a worldly perspective, the two just don’t ever meet. Rough times are just that, and parties are saved for later, when things get better. But this doesn’t seem at all to be what God has intended for those of us who follow Him. I am convinced the “abundant life” of which the Bible speaks is not referring to those smooth spurts we all experience from time to time. Life is more like a dance which swings and turns us every which way. We either move with its rhythm or contrary to it. Perhaps being able to sway with the rhythm of what life brings, and not against it, is where the abundance and the jubilee are found.
The “live and learn” part of the song barely escapes being reduced to cliché. But when I dig into it, I understand its gravity. Most people choose to ignore the “learn.” Life spins them a little too quickly, or in an unexpected direction, and all they can focus on is getting back to familiar ground. We’ve all done this, fought an unpleasant circumstance, unwittingly wasting the potential lessons to be learned as we desperately strive to reassemble what used to be. So there is celebration in being able to stuff that instinct to resist the unfamiliar, and seize the opportunity for growth which every trial brings. What kind of person would you be without such learning? Would you have any strength, endurance, or courage at all if you hadn’t survived some dizzying spins in your past? So the question is, in a time of trial, am I allowing God to lead as we dance through the steps of growth? Or do I struggle against His lead, trying to grasp my own footing? Either way, the circumstances of our lives will indeed come. So isn’t it all a matter of choosing which perspective we will have? Swing and turn, jubilee. Live and learn, jubilee.
How exactly God leads us in our personal dance is a little mysterious. I know that I’m at Point A in my walk with Him and my personal growth, and I know that I want to reach Point B, but how to get there is another question. More often than not, I don’t really want to take the steps needed; it’s much safer to stand still. Sometimes I may as well be engaged in a conversation like this with God as He leads me in some unfamiliar steps: “Lord, I’m slipping. I don’t think I can do this…Wait! Can’t you see I’m slipping! I’m about to fall!” I then feel Him hold me a little tighter, quietly replying, “I’ve got you.” The grace and strength my Lord bestows on me to carry me through trials is unexplainable. I cannot explain its presence, its shape, or its persistence. I simply know its source is God and His love for me. He is an expert at my personal dance because He is the only one who knows me through and through. Though I may search for connection with others in my life (of course we all need to fervently pursue relationships), at the end of the day, it is enough to be found and deeply known by Him alone.
Jesus, our Wonderful Counselor, tells us, “In this life you will have much trouble. But take heart, for I have overcome the world.” John 16:33