Spin Me Around the Stars

Rose Jackson ©4/29/2009

(This is a slight departure from my usual style of post, but I’m so moved today by the sense that so many people, me included, truly need to feel God’s love for them individually. I hope you get a glimpse of the godly man my Dad was, and I hope you have your own fun with God through this post!)

Crickets chirped in the warm summer night as I looked upward, expectantly waiting for my father to do what I’d longingly waited for. He lifted the long black tube of his hand-built telescope off its mount and set it delicately down in the soft grass. Darkness draped over us like a shawl, made lacy with the bright and faint punctuations of myriads of stars. Stars and planets were the awe of the evening, but my delight was in what sometimes happened next. My father swooped down, scooped me up, planted me gently on the flat mount atop his tripod, and spun me around. I looked up at the heavens in complete bliss as the stars whirled around me, covered with wonder and embraced in my father’s love.

I don’t think Dad ever knew how much what to him must have seemed just spontaneous silliness meant to me. He must have enjoyed it, though, because he did it many times. My father wasn’t a man given to horseplay, merriment, or even much conversation. He surely must have said it while I was young – I think – but I don’t remember hearing him say the words “I love you” until I was nearly 30. I knew his love when I stood beside him at his bench in the garage as he helped me hammer nails into a board or click the Morse code key of his radio, or when I sat in his lap as he read the Sunday funnies to me. But I felt his love when he spun me around the stars.

Today, flat on my face on the floor, crying out to experience, to feel, the love of my heavenly Father, this whisper of a memory came to me. In the vastness of the throne room of Heaven, surrounded by angelic hosts, bathed in the unapproachable light of the glory of God, knowing full well it’s only because of Jesus, I have the audacity to ask God for what I’d love: for my Father to step down, scoop me up, plant me atop the mount of his hand-made “telescope” – which is probably his very own hand – and spin me around the stars, covered with wonder and embraced in my Father’s love.

I know, I know; we ought to have a holy reverential fear of God, and I do. But I have to wonder, does it delight God when his child longs for and has the faith to ask for a simple moment of a Father’s daddy-ness? When his children delight simply in him, in who he is, in his love? Delight pops up in many verses of scripture – so why do I feel guilty when I long to look for God’s love to delight me? I know my earthly Dad didn’t take offense when I wanted to enjoy something special and Dad-daughter with him. Hmmm . . .

“. . . the LORD delights in those who fear him, who put their hope in his unfailing love.” Psalm 147:11

“The LORD your God is with you, he is mighty to save. He will take great delight in you, he will quiet you with his love, he will rejoice over you with singing.” Zephaniah 3:17

“Delight yourself in the LORD and he will give you the desires of your heart.” Psalm 37:4

Some people are privileged to know an outpouring of fatherly love from their earthly fathers. Many more don’t. But I don’t think we need to fear taking to our heavenly Father that empty spot in our hearts that needs the embrace of a daddy’s spontaneous “silliness”/joy. I understand that the writer of Hebrews was talking about our weakness and temptation when he wrote, “Let us then approach the throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need,” (Heb. 4:16) but I dare to trust that we can approach the throne of grace with confidence so that we can receive the lavish mercy of a Father’s delighted love.

“How great is the love the Father has lavished on us, that we should be called children of God! And that is what we are!” 1 John 3:1

For now it’s a metaphor that brings me (and you too, I pray) peace and encouragement to ask God for experiences with him that delight my soul, but I also look forward expectantly to the day God my Father really does spin me around the stars!

A “. . . but . . .” to pray:

Father God, sometimes I feel so far from your love, and I think often it’s my earthly perception of love based on flawed experience, coupled with lingering “God of judgment” attitudes about you, that hold me back from truly knowing your love. BUT I dare to believe you meant it when you told the apostle Paul that nothing – not even my flawed attitudes – can separate me from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord. (Romans 8: 38-39) So I have the faith-based audacity today to ask you to delight me with your love, show me some spontaneous fatherly ”silliness” that will mean the world to me, and help me delight, just purely delight, in you.

Your own “. . . but . . .” to pray:

Father God, I’ve been afraid sometimes to ask for an embrace from your love. Sometimes I’ve doubted you are willing to do that, BUT today I’m going to trust that _____________________.

Simply a Saturday Miracle

Rose Jackson © 3/25/2009

Prani breathlessly opened the pool gate and called, “Does anybody here know anyone with B-negative blood?”

That’s the last question you expect to hear the assistant manager of a guest house in Thailand ask tourist families splashing in the pool and licking ice cream treats on a warm Saturday afternoon.

Startled, Monica rose up on her arm from her towel on the pool deck next to me and quizzically replied, “Emma does.”

“Oh, my gosh!” I exclaimed. I didn’t know that, and I’m her mother-in-law.

Monica, a nurse, turned to me with a panicked “Where is she?” look as she shot back to Prani, “What happened?”

“A tourist who just came here last night was in an accident and needs blood so the doctors can do emergency surgery. He’s B-negative.”

I must have still looked confused as Monica and I both scrambled to our feet, because Monica hastily explained, “Asians don’t have the Rh-negative factor in their blood. Where’s Emma?”

Like a beautifully painted scroll unrolling, the full implication of this emergency spun through my mind. A couple thrown into crisis on their first day in a strange, foreign city. Doctors tell the wife surgery is urgent to save her husband’s life, but they have no compatible blood, nor does the other hospital in town. Panic must grip her. Is there a foreigner in town with compatible blood, and how could they possibly track that person down? Where could they even begin to look? Hotels certainly don’t have that information. What are the odds?

Rushing past Prani, I blurt, “Emma’s on her way here with the children. I’ll find her!” Prani replies, “I’ll call the hospital.”

What a wonder: this is the one Saturday of our stay when we didn’t plan any tours or shopping trips. Emma stops, children in hand, as I rush toward her down the path, panting. “It’s an emergency. Someone needs B-negative blood.” We scoop up the children and dash back to their room, hand the kids off with a fleeting explanation to a puzzled Rick, toss on T-shirts and jeans, and run through the dappled shade on the driveway toward the guest house office, the laughter of children swinging and sliding on the playground an other-worldly contrast to our anxious hearts.

As Emma gives information to Prani, the pieces of this puzzle fly together to reveal a picture nothing short of a miracle. Piece one: Prani used to be a nurse, and she “happens” to know the nurse overseeing foreigners at this hospital. Piece two: the injured man “happens” to be taken to this particular hospital. Piece three: Emma has B-negative blood. Piece four: Emma “happens” to be in this particular town at this particular time. Piece five: Emma and Rick “happen” to be staying at the guest house Prani manages. Piece six: Monica, a colleague of Emma and Rick, “happens” to know Emma’s blood type. Piece seven: Monica “happens” to be at the pool with her children when Prani comes, hoping against hope to find a blood donor. If even one piece were missing, this man would die.

Like a jasmine-laden breeze, a peaceful calm enfolded us as attendants quickly bustled Emma into the ambulance that seemed to appear out of nowhere. Mouths open in wonder, we looked at each other across the cots. What’s the proper protocol when you realize you’re caught up by the hand of God in a miracle? Nothing seemed better to do than pray for this man, his doctors, and his wife, and pray that Emma would be able to give the blood he desperately needed.

“I know, I have small veins,” Emma apologized to the hospital technicians who speedily and skillfully descended upon her as soon as we arrived. Though their English was halting, it was obvious they were thankful Emma was willing to give her blood. Two attempts, two veins, and several embarrassed giggles and apologies in Thai later, a phlebotomist sped off with the pint of blood that meant life to someone we would never meet. Wanting to offer some comfort and hope, we asked if we could speak to the man’s wife. Privacy rules made that impossible, so we prayed again that the surgery would go smoothly and healing would come quickly.

How surreal! On vacation in between conferences, here we were in Thailand in a hospital on a Saturday afternoon, Emma with bandages on both of her arms, and me still wearing a bathing suit under my shirt and jeans! Is that what a miracle is supposed to look like? To the rest of the bustling city, it was simply Saturday. Shouldn’t the heavens open, or an angel appear, or something supernatural happen to let you know you’re in the middle of the miraculous?

Evidently not, or at least not always. Sometimes – probably most frequently, I expect – miracles come in quite ordinary packages, via quite ordinary “happen-ings,” pieced together extraordinarily and placed in the praying hands of people who helplessly hope for them. Do they wonder, and will that couple ever know, their miracle is named Emma? Perhaps some Saturday quite simply, when and where you least expect it, someone’s miracle will be named you!

For we are God’s workmanship, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do. Ephesians 2:10

Today, TWO “. . . but . . .”s to pray: Most amazing Father, sometimes I’ve looked for heaven-rending miracles and passed off as coincidence so many of the “ordinary” miracles you’ve done for me. I need one now and don’t see how it can happen, BUT I know you will and do position your resources and your children to provide wondrous help to supply my deepest needs. Too often I’m focused on receiving a miracle, BUT it’s just awesome to be an instrument in your hand in delivering a miracle for someone else! I give you permission to – in fact, I pray you will – use me in extraordinary ways in “ordinary”, “simply Saturday” miracles to bless the world around me.
Your own “. . . but . . .” to pray:
God of miracles and my Father in Heaven, I’ve been so busy looking for ____________________ and I haven’t recognized the amazing things you are doing for and through me, BUT I believe you can __________________________________ . I am in awe to know you can and will move your people around the world to meet my needs, and I have faith to ask you to use me to _______________________________________ Amen!