Learning the unforced rhythms of grace


Watch and Listen


A few years back, I was scheduled to go for surgery and felt a little restless. I had pain and was fasting in preparation for the next day so I wanted to get my mind on something else.

Randy and I decided to go out for a while. We went to a park that was beautifully landscaped and found a bench close enough to walk to from the car. We sat there for about an hour or two. We  joked about how similar our date was to the 90-year-old couple who sat nearby. We watched people. We talked about the surgery. We talked about our kids. We saw young couples our own age running or biking together. We listened and we sat in silence too. Something very profound began to sink in.  

I looked at my husband who had married me when I was healthy and now on my seventh surgery in ten years. I watched how content he was to just be with me. I listened to his joking and his enjoyment of this weird date and I loved him even more. But I also observed that this moment, this content, strange moment was a gift.  We both knew that the next day I would be in surgery and then going through a time of recovery. We both knew it would be awhile before we could go out to a park again and we were well aware that running or biking or other activities that people our age were enjoying may not be part of our story.

I believe that God gives this gift to us when we go through difficult times. He gives us an ability to watch and listen with a thankful heart. We become grateful for everything and everyone. We see doctors and appointments not as intrusions to our lives but as real people who are giving their time and expertise to help us. They have families and hobbies and stories of how they came to be in their job. Those doctor appointments can be a valuable time to not only receive care, but offer encouragement and thankfulness to them for what they do.

It is as if time slows down and we are able to see more of what is going on within one day than we used to. When you can't be in control or leading activities around your home, when you've had to let go of expectations and goals, when you are limited in some way, you have the opportunity to watch and listen. God is up to something in the lives around you. See what He is doing. Pay attention and let him form and change you as you observe. It is not a passive place to be–it is full of adventure and opportunity to love and be loved more than you could imagine.

"This resurrection life you received from God is not a timid, grave-tending life. It’s adventurously expectant, greeting God with a childlike “What’s next, Papa?” God’s Spirit touches our spirits and confirms who we really are. We know who he is, and we know who we are: Father and children. And we know we are going to get what’s coming to us—an unbelievable inheritance! We go through exactly what Christ goes through. If we go through the hard times with him, then we’re certainly going to go through the good times with him!" Romans 8:15-17