When Magnificence Redeems Minutia
May 3, 2017
At an ENT appointment last week, the audiologist looked at my oldest son and said – with her actual words, to his actual face – “You are the reason I didn’t have more kids. I did NOT want another boy. This – *motions to him and his 2 brothers* – is my worst nightmare.”
To which I wanted to reply, “Then you should definitely either watch Saw or read some news headlines. I guarantee there are far scarier things out there than 3 wonderful, kind, adventurous boys.”
This is a thing for us. It happens a lot. Nearly every time we go in public, actually.
People really feel the need to opine on the misery of our family of boys, nary a baby girl in sight. How stupid is that? Honestly. Get a grip, people. There is absolutely nothing about my beautiful family that requires sympathy.
My heart can only take so much of that, man. It breaks every time. Not just for my boys, but for theirs.
What a sad perspective for them; what a discouraging encounter for us.
Over Easter, I spent a lot of time reading and re-reading the gospel accounts of Jesus’ resurrection. There is so much to explore and absorb and celebrate and learn, but I kept coming back to Peter’s view of the resurrection.
Because shortly before Jesus rose from the dead for the happy ending the world was waiting for, Peter had given up hope. In Jesus’ darkest hour, Peter stood around a crackling fire and chose to abandon the very man he’d devoted his life to. He denied any knowledge of Jesus, any affiliation with his acclaimed savior. Three times he answered, “I don’t know who that man is or what you’re talking about”. (Jn 18)
When the rooster crowed, as Jesus had predicted, Peter realized the weight of what he’d done.
Can you imagine being Peter in this moment? The shame? The gut-wrenching agony of that decision? The memories playing over and over in his mind? His warming himself by the fire, smelling the burning coals. His answering the first question, then the second, then the third.
Peter chose to turn his back and – as far as he knew – he’d never get a chance to make it right. Jesus was dead and gone.
Fast forward to the empty tomb.
Jesus’ resurrection has countless layers to it. He was resurrected for creation, to redeem the earth and make all things new. He was resurrected for all of humanity, to redeem our brokenness and solidify our wildly undeserved seats in heaven.
He was also resurrected to redeem Peter. (And you. And me.)
In John 21, Jesus recreates Peter’s most painful memory. He sees Peter fishing out on the water and as he waits for him to come closer, he builds a fire. A crackling fire with burning coals.
It was around this new fire that Jesus asks Peter 3 times, “Do you truly love me?”
It was around this new fire that Peter gets a redo. As he smells the same smoke and watches the same crackling flames, he gets to answer again. 3 times.
Jesus not only redeems the world and all humanity, he redeems our shame. He redeems our entire lives, but also our single worst moment. Our greatest insecurity down to our smallest discouragement.
He redeemed the smell of a fire for goodness’ sake.
That’s how powerful the gospel story is. It is globally universal, it is also meticulously intimate.
I’d be lying if I said I didn’t let comments like the audiologist’s bother me. They piss me off, quite frankly. They happen entirely too often.
Part of me wants to take to the internet and write an angry “Dear Strangers Who Say Stupid Stuff in Front of My Children” post. (I’d also be lying if I said I didn’t have such a post in my drafts folder as we speak.)
But if there’s anything the Lord is working on in me, it is controlling my tongue. And learning to take my disappointments to him first instead of a throng of available and supportive Facebook friends.
So I have. I’ve been talking to him about my discouragement a lot.
And do you know what?
God still redeems even the smallest of memories today.
Because this morning, on the heels of the terrible doctor’s experience last week, my fellas had their semi-annual dentist appointments. When the dentist walked in the room – long before she got to the actual consult portion – she looked me in the eyes and said,
“Your boys are so beautiful.”
I started to brush off the compliment with a “Well thank yo–” before she cut me off.
“No, I’m serious,” she said, unwilling to let it rest. “They are incredibly well behaved. You spend a lot of time with them, don’t you? I can tell. You’re doing an incredible job. What a beautiful family you have.”
I’ve never made out with a dentist (or a 60 year old woman, for that matter) but I strongly considered it in that moment.
It took 5 seconds for her to encourage. That encouragement will stay with me for 5 years.
God totally knew. He knew I needed that.
He can redeem our worst choices and our most painful memories.
He can also redeem a doctor’s office visit.
Our daily lives are where his magnificence intersects with his intimacy. I think if we spent more time turning to him instead of the closest supportive ear, he’d have more chances to show us.
(Also, he specifically told me to tell everyone to chill the heck out and focus on being a Refresher instead of a Drainer.)
((…………………..ok, fine. He didn’t. But we should anyway.))