“That Grandmother stepped out there on a Sunday morning wasn’t surprising – she never rushed over the cool floors. She wasn’t fearful of what she would find – she knew what was there. It was cataloged in her mind – and she made use of it”~ My Grandmother’s Clothes Bag
Disclaimer: Grandmother, if she knew I had turned this story into an allegory would probably have admonished me to “Stop that Silly Talk.”
Characters in the allegory of Grandmother’s Clothes Bag
Grandmother – Everyman
Granddaughter – Everyman
Navy, Accordion-Pleated Wool Skirt – A blessing shared
The Clothes Bag – The Bible
The Content of the Clothes Bag – Things of God
Moth Balls – The Holy Spirit
There’s a time when I moved from a child’s relationship to the Father, to an adult’s relationship to the Father. Where, as a child, I loved Him with abandon. Growing up led to self-consciousness, gracelessness from uncomfortable awareness, and learning to take the reigns of spiritual responsibility in hand.Growing up meant sifting through what I had been taught, becoming intentional in what I believed.
That meant I was alone responsible for that relationship. The training wheels were off. I was alone responsible for the reaching.
I didn’t do well early on, when those training wheels were off. My relationship wobbled with Him wobbled.
Like I hurried through Grandmother’s back porch, past the clothes bag, so I hurried past Him.
Self-consciousness, lack of confidence in who I was caused me to hurry past things that intimidated me through my ignorance – not just of the things of God but who I was to Him.
Faux gracefully, I enacted the ritual of sorting through winter and spring into the clothes bag – but I didn’t dig into that clothes bag. I stood in the kitchen and handed out.
I didn’t not know Him intimately. I could not truly catalog was what in His word. I needed to spend time with Him, with His word, to see what was there – not just the gospel, but Ruth, Jeremiah, Isaiah – all the one’s I skipped over, ignored.
I needed to spend time with Him, like my grandmother spent time maintaining the clothes bag, lined with those moth balls.
I couldn’t really help anyone. I couldn’t really even help myself – not until I delved into the contents of His word, His Holy Spirit – Him.
The Father wanted me to stop rushing past Him, open up His word and listen, really listen, catalog in my heart its content, wear it, walk it, know it – to continually wrap His word in His Holy Spirit.
“But if from there you seek the LORD your God, you will find him if you look for him with all your heart and with all your soul” (Deuteronomy 4:29)
One day, sitting in the car outside my husband’s work, waiting – which is something newleyweds still in college with just one car do a lot – the Father met me there. I asked the Father, “I want that relationship I had with you as a child. Teach me how to get there.”
He did. . . it was a journey, though – not an overnight arrival.
I learned to not rush past His word like I rushed over cool, pebbled-concrete floors. I dug into His word, like my grandmother dug into her clothes bag, cataloging, nurturing so that one day I could share what is within His word, within relationship with Him.
When grandmother saw a need – she went to the clothes bag and drew a blessing out – a blessing that caused a soul-reveal. I needed to learn to live that kind of relationship with Him.
I needed to believe what the word said about that relationship, about the hope, the healing, the speaking, the praying, the Holy Spirit, the believing without seeing.
“And without faith it is impossible to please God, because anyone who comes to him must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who earnestly seek him”(Hebrews 11:6)
When I dug into His word, when I believed His word – I discovered who I was to Him – his beloved daughter.
I discovered a Father who wanted to become the shade in the glaring, uncomfortable heat of challenges, who wanted to shelter me beneath the feathers of His wing, who wanted to bind my wounds scarless, who wanted to shelter me in the storm – that He saves me when I cry out, like a Knight in Shining Armor:
“He’s riding a winged creature,
swift on wind-wings.
Now he’s wrapped himself
in a trenchcoat of black-cloud darkness.
But his cloud-brightness bursts through,
spraying hailstones and fireballs.
Then GOD thundered out of heaven;
the High God gave a great shout,
spraying hailstones and fireballs.
God shoots his arrows—pandemonium!
He hurls his lightnings—a rout!
The secret sources of ocean are exposed,
the hidden depths of earth lie uncovered
The moment you roar in protest,
let loose your hurricane anger.
16-19 But me he caught—reached all the way
from sky to sea; he pulled me out
Of that ocean of hate, that enemy chaos,
the void in which I was drowning.
They hit me when I was down,
but GOD stuck by me.
He stood me up on a wide-open field;
I stood there saved—surprised to be loved!”
(Psalm 18: 10-15, The Message)
One day long ago, grandmother pulled a skirt out of her clothes bag. As the years unfolded, that moment became an allegory of faith. Like a fable is to a truism – was that skirt to a soul reveal – and the truism made me a beloved daughter of the King, who willing jumped on His horse and moved heaven and earth to protect shelter . . . . save.
Because I learned not to hasten away from the things of God, I find blessings He leaves me, messages He leaves me in the ordinary of a day:
964) The squirrel nest high in the barren oak, sways in the thin-limbed top, twigs, old leaves woven together, how does it protect against the bitter wind? And, I marvel – because it does.
965) My mother-in-laws hands, folding laundry, teaching me to slip-stitch quilt binding, making banana pudding, hugging babies and boys
966) Nine sherbet-colored bandanas bought in 2009 quilted, backed, binded and tied with raspberry, lime green, citrus orange, flamingo pink and lemon yellow embroidery thread.
967) Red chili sauce in Thais Gopaw – taste buds delighting after days of illness
968) Robin’s egg blue skies outside my work window
969) Lunch date with my husband, just the two of us
970) Italian chamber music on my iPod nano diminishing chaos
971) The story of grace changing lives, redeeming from the law, in movie theatres around the world, sung in spiritual songs of Les Miserable (the book beautiful, too)
972) Two hour morning delay from an ice storm that never came, giving me time to love the boys with homemade chocolate chip granola bars and hamburger, elk and deer-meat chili.