Grace trumps asceticism

Many years have passed since those summer days
Among the fields of barley
See the children run as the sun goes down
Among the fields of gold.

~ Fields of Gold, Sting, performed by Eva Cassidy

By some small miracle, the yellow wildflowers of spring defeat the various pesticides used by the farmer who plants the fields around us. Our entire vista is dotted with these gifts from heaven, a literal field of gold all the way to the treeline at field's edge. I have prayed for this field as long as I have lived here. That whoever eventually builds there - if anyone - might be a dear friend.

I don't ask for help easily. Foolish pride. I don't want to be sick, or weak, or needy. I talked with my children about this the other day, and Katy nodded emphatically - it is remarkable how similar the cloth from which we were cut is. This holds in my relationship with God as well. I don't like to ask for something just for my own joy. Some ascetic tendency that whispers that I have a limited number of opportunities to catch the attention of Christ, that my requests should only be for the salvation of souls, and not human pleasure. Forgetting entirely that he is able also to save them to the uttermost that come unto God by him, seeing he ever liveth to make intercession for them. (Hebrews 7:25) As a child, I remember framing my requests in a way that I thought would make them difficult to refuse, always connecting my desire with an opportunity for God's glory (although in my heart, the glory was often for me). "Please, God, let me get a homerun so that everyone will see that homeschooled Christian kids aren't big geeks! That will bring you glory, right, God?" I find myself now, an adult, doing the same thing - in a more mature way, of course. "Please, God, let my friends build a house in the field across the street. We will be so much more effective if we can work together, right, God?" Really what I desire is kinship, fellowship, the joy of waving out my front window to a friend in the early morning.

But doesn't that bring God glory as well? The kids and I just finished memorizing I John 4:7-8, Beloved, let us love one another. For love is of God, and everyone that loveth knoweth God and loveth God. He that loveth not, knoweth not God, for God is love. The love alone that would be visible, rising like a sweet perfume off this small 40-acre section of Wisconsin soil, is a reflection of God. I wonder if we don't sometimes forget how simple our complex God is. We rack our brains to determine why on earth He created us in the first place. Perhaps it was for the same reason we beget children ourselves: to smile more, to experience the burst of joy when they learn, to laugh uproariously at their childish mispronounciations and quips, to burst with pride as you see a mini version of yourself accomplishing "great" things. The seed of creation (in my human case, procreation) may be the most simple reason of all: because I can. To see what it's like. Is there anything unholy in that, I wonder?

I pray today for simple things:
  • Please, God, don't let me faint while I'm on a date in Minneapolis
  • Please, God, let the sunshine last while we plant more seeds in the garden
  • Please, God, make today a happy day for my baby
  • Please, God, don't let me faint at church tomorrow. Prevent any ambulance rides this weekend. For on you I depend for each breath and heartbeat.
  • Please, God, help me figure out why our phones aren't working so I don't feel so isolated. I am flummoxed by technology again!
  • Please, God, help me complete my school assignment so I can get on to household tasks.
And in this, as in all else, not my will, but thine be done (Luke 22:42).