I’m just now recovering from the injustice of two days ago when the internet ate my blogpost.
I wrote the blog on my phone and I felt good about the productivity of my commuter inspiration… until I looked at it later and saw that only half of the post got published. The other half is in the belly of the internet somewhere, gurgling and hopefully making a big indigestive scene.
I am aware my frustration is ironic, given the content of the post – that it was about whimsy and surprise and the unexpected. But what do you do when all of the above feels more like a series of unfortunate events and less like a fairytale – when city commuting and daylight savings darkness and spilt pumpkin bread feel a little more like failure?
There is adventure inside those places, too, I know. But my belief has to be big enough to swallow up the doubt that it is not so. Or at least my belief has to be big enough to wrestle my doubt into submission. And sometimes that sized belief is hard to come by, hard to pray for, and hard to keep.
Tonight, tension tamer is my tea of choice.
It was in the birthday package from my mom, shipped from Iowa with other useful things like measuring cups, Grandma’s homemade hot pads, and the angel food cake pan that carried all the spongey goodness of my childhood. How she knew that my tension would need taming on this day in early November, I’m not sure. I think it’s probably a “mom” thing and I hope it’s hereditary.
I do know that one of my loaves of pumpkin bread came out like this tonight. It’s more mangled in person, and for good reason: it somersaulted onto the oven window.
I actually think it recovered well, all things considered. I think my roomie will find a way to convert it into morning deliciousness. She’s kind of a sucker for redeeming messes.
Maybe this is what it really means to worship with a hard hat – maybe it means headaches and heartaches and haphazard nights in the kitchen. Maybe the worship adventure is something that is always redemptive because this life is always broken.
Maybe the kind of posture Dillard thinks proper for worship in the Christian life is one that prepares for danger and doubt as much as it prepares for joy and song.
I am usually the joy-song type. Mostly.
I mostly love new things and crowded schedules and mishaps and detours. Mostly. Then, there are those days, those series of unfortunate events that remind me that my worship must be made of harder stuff. Anxiety isn’t believed away with joy-songs. They factor in, sure, along with tension tamer tea and well-timed laughter.
But there is a reason Dillard suggests a hard hat under the steeple on Sundays. I think it might be because worship can sometimes look like a demolition. It is not comfortable or pleasant, but it is right and it is good work.
My joy-songs are of a different kind when debris is flying overhead. The adventure is inside the danger and inside the belief that God’s identity has not changed. He is not less God and I am not less His child. My future is no less secure.
When your life so closely resembles Amelia Bedelia, you might remember every ingredient for vegetable beef soup except the beef. You might also forget the butter on the stovetop (in an effort to soften it for a cookie recipe when you do not have a microwave). In typical Amelia flare, you might somersault your pumpkin creation onto the oven window and then shove it back in the pan to bake the salvaged parts. You might miss the train that beat the daylight to the horizon and you might make one errand into seven.
And you might need to wear a hard hat if you plan to worship.
Because your heart will only respond to surprises with joy-songs if you are prepared for things to get messy. The only proper preparation is the Word taking root and establishing inside your heart and inside the series of unfortunate events. There is not a single curveball my Amelia Bedelia nature can throw in this life that the Word is not prepared for – not a single unfortunate event in this life that the Lord isn’t already planning to use for His glory.
Last weekend, I heard a message from Hebrews 12:18-23,
“For you have not come to what may be touched, a blazing fire and darkness and gloom and a tempest and the sound of a trumpet and a voice whose words made the hearers beg that no further messages be spoken to them. For they could not endure the order that was given, “If even a beast touches the mountain, it shall be stoned.” Indeed, so terrifying was the sight that Moses said, “I tremble with fear.” But you have come to Mount Zion and to the city of the living God, the heavenly Jerusalem, and to innumerable angels in festal gathering, and to the assembly of the firstborn who are enrolled in heaven, and to God, the judge of all, and to the spirits of the righteous made perfect,”
“Does anyone know the power we so blithely invoke?” Dillard asks.
Well, I’m learning at least. I’m learning that the power we invoke requires hard hats and a supernatural amount of perseverance. There are joy-songs, but they are not empty. They are hard wrought and wrestled from the grip of failures.