Saturday, September 26, 2009
Just in Time
This evening I pulled out the flour bin to whip up some banana bread in honor of the brown fruit waiting patiently on my kitchen counter. I smiled as I pulled back the lid. There was my missing measuring cup. I smiled not so much because it had been found, but over the reason it had been lost.
Five days ago I was scooping flour when my sister called. "It's time," she announced with mingled joy, apprehension and a wealth of relief in her voice. And there the measuring cup stayed. The chocolate zucchini cake would wait.
Two hours later, after praying my sister through the agony and the ecstasy, I cradled my beautiful niece, Clara Julianna. Our eyes met, and I was not thinking about the chocolate zucchini cake left undone. No, I was thinking about how drastically -- and wonderfully -- life can change at a moment's notice. A life bound by a divine sense of timing that God, in His unsearchable wisdom, has set into place. One minute I'm measuring flour, the next I'm coaching my sister through one of the most important days of her life.
The reality of this further struck me as I was going through the neglected laundry pile the next day. It was like sorting through a time capsule. There was the blouse that I wore to my birthday dinner . . . . Ah yes, my birthday. The day that Clara was supposed to be born. It was, after all, her due date. How perfect it was to be! But the day slipped by.
And here was the top I wore to my sister's baby shower. (The shower that was planned, I'll have you know, with a newborn in mind, not an overdue mommy and her sympathetic fan club!) The shower that was planned on the only day we could find, the day when both grandmothers would be in town. Nana just in, Noni on her way out . . . . And two more days passed.
Oh, and this one? This was the shirt I was wearing the day I said a tearful goodbye to my parents. The day that was supposed to have taken place well after little Clara's arrival but sadly preceded it. Two more relentless days had passed.
And finally, the top that I threw on before heading to the hospital. Nine whole days had passed, each one painfully ticking by. My parents were in California, bravely embarking on a journey that they did not choose for themselves. A journey that involved a single diagnosis with a million questions*.
Nine days is an eternity for the burdened and overdue (I lay claim to a mere fraction of the stress. My dear sister endured the overwhelming bulk of it.) But when I look at a stressful week in my laundry hamper, it adds up to the same amount of clothing that I wash every week, stressful or not.
Here it all was, piled heavily before me in the domestic form of lights and darks -- the divine passage of time and the questions that arose as a result. We thought we had God's timing figured out. Surely this little one should have come sooner. It was arranged so perfectly. Noni would take part in the delivery and then go to California, not participate via Skype and then fly back for a "visit."
I wonder how God views His piles of laundry. We who are filthy without His cleansing. We who would die without the ultimate blood-washing. We who are sorted and tossed by the world, crammed indifferently into piles, waiting to be made clean. We who arrogantly say, "On such and such a day, my sister shall have a baby," and arrange things according to our own timetable.
But no. This is how I view God's laundry. He doesn't dwell on the filth and depravity, the piles and stains, the slow passage of time. He sees the work that's already been done. Laundry day has come and gone. His timing was perfect. The terrible washing was taken care of long ago. The blood was spilled, and we are . . . beautiful. We are dressed before Him in radiant, spotless white. Eternity is here.
And yet still we wait. Each day we add another garment to the laundry pile, wondering when the big day will arrive. But each day He reminds us that it's already clean. And each day He shows us the splendor of His Son and we have the opportunity to say, "Ah, yes. It's been done. And it's beautiful." And we know that His timing is perfect.
I'm not sure that I'll ever fully understand the strange, stressful circumstances surrounding the last couple of weeks. But I do know that God's timing was not derailed by the passage of nine days. Neither was my chocolate zucchini cake. I finally finished it. And it was delicious -- especially as I sat last night with my mom, my sister, and my precious niece. We ate that cake, and we quietly cherished God's perfect timing.
*To follow my father's prostate cancer journey, please click on his blog link to the right.