At Play in the Fields of the Lord

At Play in the Fields of the Lord

May I introduce you to someone you should know? She is a sister in Christ, a fellow writer, a mother of two---nearly three as she awaits the birth of her third daughter even now.

This is already a lot, but she is more. She is a witness to a life most would name disastrous.  Marlena can accurately name her growing-up years in a family with mental illness, adultery,  poverty and multiple other dysfunctions "disaster." But her life and the new book she has written from it is not rightly told with that one word. Another word is needed, a word that we too can claim for the messes in our own lives: "A Beautiful Disaster."

Yes, Beautiful. Would you listen while Marlena prepares us to play as children in the once-disastrous fields of our lives.  Here, her words from her lovely book-of-hope, (with photos from my corner of the world.) 

Adapted from A Beautiful Disaster by Marlena Graves, Brazos Press, a division of Baker Publishing Group, ©2014. Used by permission.

“For we have sinned and grown old and our Father is younger than we.”           ------G.K. Chesterton

A gift: each with-God wilderness experience makes us younger and more childlike. I am growing younger every day, my life less complex. I am like a young child who springs up at the crack of dawn, long before anyone else is awake, and eagerly snatches open the curtains to behold a world teeming with life. 

I am being trained to turn my gaze on life, on the good, and so I am becoming like that which I behold. Oh, I do not deny there is death, only now I understand what my Father has been saying all along: that death holds no power over me. I do not need to be scared.

         Not only do we leave the wilderness with a greater ability to rest like a sleeping baby who is cradled in the arms of God, but we become more playful. I am growing younger because the fear and anxieties that were weighing me down, those elements that were wrinkling and withering my soul, are dissipating. Every wilderness experience strips me of layers of these soul-withering elements. 

Consequently, I am becoming a tender shoot even as my years slowly ebb away. This is how eternal life affects us. Knowing God through Jesus Christ his son grows us younger. We become children in the kingdom. And if we know one thing about healthy children it’s this: they love to play.

After I emerged from that protracted wilderness experience, I sensed God not only giving me permission but also encouraging me to play—and to play often. Playing is an expression of joy. Everyday joy. 

Exiting the wilderness, we are overjoyed because we know what it is like to stare death (in its myriad forms) right in the face and yet we’ve survived. It’s not mere survival, a barely alive or barely getting by survival. It’s a thriving survival; it’s the life that God is known for producing in us. It may come slowly, but it comes. Just when we thought it was all over for us, when we thought we would certainly perish, God came. He came and rescued us, reminding us that he is as faithful as ever, which is always. 

It’s not that we forget or dismiss the pain and suffering that we or others have been through. We see and experience pain and suffering for what they are. It’s that we now know pain and suffering are not all there is to the world. Our wilderness experiences have opened up new channels within our souls so that we have a greater capacity for life. We’re able to see reality more clearly. After so much grief and pain and near hopelessness we are fresh with life—playful. Not overly sober. Play is an expression of our celebration. "

                                                           ---Marlena Graves, A Beautiful Disaster

I am hoping to find time to "play" this week, to be a child again----even in the midst of all the work. You too, I hope! 

And if you can, please support Marlena AND---find your way toward naming the disasters in your life, "Beautiful."