Thursday, December 22, 2011

Mystery, Wonder and Extravagant Love - Jimmy Sustar

When I was a kid it seemed to snow a lot more than it does now. I remember an average of three to five feet of snow throughout the Winter season and it hung around until late March. I remember thinking it absurd that anyone would find themselves dreaming of a white Christmas. It was just a given.

We were quite poor economically, but I never knew it. We ate venison that my dad hunted, and vegetables that my mom froze. We worked hard together to live simply. We heated our house with wood, and every Saturday morning in the fall, my little brother and I joined our Dad in his old Ford pick-up truck. We drove to a patch of woods and spent the entire morning cutting wood and loading it into the truck. The drive back home was always reflective and sleepy with a little bit of goofing off and being told to calm down. The rest of the day was spent stacking wood tightly around the back of the house where it would wait for the harsh winter to fall on us.

It was my job to keep the fire burning while Dad was at work. It was a sweet pleasure to be given this task. The average winter temperature was only fifteen degrees Fahrenheit so this job taught me a lot about dependability. Whenever I stepped outside to play, or gather more firewood, my heart felt full and glad to catch the smell of burning oak rising from the chimney. I couldn’t stop the smile, this smelled like home to me.

There were also some really hard times. There were moments of unexplainable uncertainty that felt heavy, like a mantle of doubt. There were family troubles that I didn’t understand because I was too innocent and young. There were times my parents struggled to believe that we were going to make it through. There were days that seemed to never bend toward the light...

But I never knew we were poor. We had it all. My sister and two brothers, my Mom and my Dad. We knew what love was and we loved each other very much.

At night, I often would steal away to our back yard. I would walk until I escaped the light of the house and find myself hidden in the darkness and quiet, in the hush of newly fallen snow, the moonlight and the sound of wind blowing through pines. The smell of our home being made warm by the hard work of our hands. The safety of peace. The mystery of Almighty God coming to us in innocence, and vulnerability. The wonder of being loved so extravagantly. I just loved to stand there alone in the dark and soak it in.

It was, and is still more than I can stand.

There’s a song by a band called, ‘Mineral’ that beautifully describes moments like this. Deep, simple love. I love the unassuming tone in this...

‘And the snow falls melts before it even hits the ground
And I’m standing here listening
To the sound of your hand Washing back and forth
Across my filthy heart
And I don’t know if I should say “I’m sorry” or “Thank you”
I try to speak but the tears choke the words...
And I think I finally know what they mean When they talk about joy.’

May you find this place of peace, hope, and joy as you bend to hear Him whisper love in your ear.

-Merry Christmas-