Rise Up, My Love (201): The Second Grace—An Enduring Faith

SS 200:08.21.16Song of Solomon 6:9 “My undefiled.” To defile something is to make it impure or violate its chastity. To be undefiled is to be pure and holy, with untarnished luster and unsullied reputation. Ah, how my heart condemned me as I read this text! “Woe is my, for I am undone; because I am a (wo)man of unclean lips, and I dwell in the midst of a people of unclean lips: for mine eyes have seen the king, the Lord of hosts” (Isaiah 6:5). Every time I think an impure thought or utter a careless word, I am defiling myself. How can I ever think of myself as chaste and holy?? We cannot see our king without recognizing how utterly impure and unlovely we are…how repeatedly and horribly we’ve failed him, how unfit and unworthy we are to be his bride. Remember? “Look not upon me, because I am black!” Yet, even after our conversion, we fail. Still I am tarnished and impure, prone to wander and frustrated by my chronic weaknesses. How can our Lord praise us as his “undefiled?” I guess, for me, it will always remain a mystery. Perhaps because he is able to look ahead he see us as we shall be. Perhaps, because he is God, he is able to see us as pure and undefiled because we are washed by the blood of Christ moment by moment and dressed in his righteousness…so that what God sees is Christ’s perfection, not our sin. Perhaps he is able to look at our faith—as tiny a mustard seed as it may be—and see that it has never died, so that our faith has not become defiled in a sense, and we are purely “justified by faith” (Romans 3:28;5:1 and Galatians 3:24).

In marriage, I have been a woeful failure when measured against God’s standard of never having been tempted by another man, and yet it’s never gone from the realm of sinful thought to evil action in the physical world. I believe that is also true of my husband. If we look critically at the dark side of one another, we could soundly condemn the other person for their failures…and yet…with a heart of compassion and love, recognizing that our sinful natures are as frail as dust, we can also look at the bright side and say, “Yes, we have been faithful to one another. We have not defiled ourselves with others.” Could this be how King Solomon viewed his wife? Not that she was sinlessly perfect, but that she had kept herself chaste for him. Is this how the king can praise us? Not that we are sinlessly perfect, but that we have “kept the faith.” We may have been tempted by the gods of this world, but we have not truly gone after them and given ourselves over to them. Though we are frail as dust, yet we have clung to our Lord as ivy clings to an oak. Ah, and he holds us in his hand, too, and promises to never let us go, and to never leave us nor forsake us (Hebrews 13:5). We are his undefiled! May we ever cling to him in untarnished, unsullied faith! This is the second grace that will bring the praise of God and men. The first grace is a Spirit-filled, obedient life; the second grace is a deep and enduring faith.

 

When the Children Grow Up and the Dog Dies

Bleeding Hearts 05.23.16Things were pretty lonely around here after the kids grew up and our dog died. Forget-me-notsAlan suggested making cardboard cutouts of the kids Geraniumsand setting them around our dining room table Squirrel on canoeor placing them in random locations in and outside. Lilac-colored IrisHowever, we slowly adjusted to “just” the two of us after 40 years of children. Two deer by boatAlan had the sensation we were dating again,Turkey on our laneand I felt a little lost, like a newly wed just playing at house.Racoon on our dock However, in the last two weeks since we’ve returned from Europe, Mother Duck and 3 ducklings by dock+10 5.26.16it’s occurred to me that we’re not alone at all! Great blue heron and ducks on dockWe have all sorts of neighbors who come to visit every day, Racoon on dock 5.27.16and they seem particularly taken with our new dock! Racoon in our cherry treeOf course, the coons, birds, and squirrels are pretty partial to our cherry tree too.Woodchuck in grass Our proverbial woodchuck is always busy trying to figure out Woodchuck. How much wood would a wood chuck chuck if a woodchuck could chuck wood? 5.26.16just how much wood a woodchuck can chuck, Woodchuck+10 26.16and after he’s done working, he’d like to take a dip in the lake… Woodchuck by swimming poolor in the pool if we’d take that carnsarned cover off so he could get in. Deer in our yardTwo days ago while Alan was mowing, Columbinehe discovered a brand new fawn hiding in the grass just 10 feet in front of him. Squirrel on our deckHe ran into the house to grab “camera woman,”Vinca Minor but the tiny creature managed to wobble off and find another hiding place Deer by dock 5.26.16before we returned. Mink at edge of woodsSo, we’re not really alone!Geese on lake In fact, there’s so much commotion around here Racoon by our canoe 5.26.16that it’s hard to get to sleep at night! Geese squawking in eveningThe geese squawk, Great blue heron on dockand the swamp frogs’ antiphonal chorus is as thunderous as a giant snoring. Robin's nest by tea roomIt’s also hard to sleep in with all the song birds serenading the sun bright & early.MuskratEven better than all this polyphony of sights and sounds outside Chipmunkis that still, small voice inside, Mink on dockreminding me that no matter what happens between now and forever, Purple IrisJesus will always be with me!  Duck and ducklings on lake“Let your conversation be without covetousness; and be content with such things as ye have: for he hath said, I will never leave thee, nor forsake thee.” (Hebrews 13:5)  Bi-colored irisI am Alpha and Omega, the beginning and the end, the first and the last.” (Revelation 22:13)

(All photos taken around our house in the last few days. Thank you, Lord!)