If you're scratching your head over the title of this entry, you may be scratching harder in a minute. "Nitpicking: a carping, petty criticism," is not the definition I have in mind today. "Lousy: wretchedly bad; miserable," is not the definition I have in mind today. When one can experience etymology in action, that is a true educational experience. The origin of these two words is the same. Have you guessed it? This week our family discovered we had [pause for emphasis, if you please] lice. Now that everyone we know is scratching in earnest, let me assure you of two things: we are clean now, but you may not be, and also, the lice are only walk-ons in this production. I'd like to focus on the Star.
"God works in mysterious ways" is often used tritely and carelessly, though it's as true and as important and, to me, as piquant as ever. If you've read my "Author" blurb and chuckled over the words "struggling cleaner," for example, you can imagine how those struggles simply melted away in the face of creepy crawlies in our hair, our clothes, our brushes and combs, our linens, on our furniture, in our car. I became a force to be reckoned with. See what God did there? Pretty suave.
However unappreciative we fallen humans tend to be of discipline (either the correction or the training kind) there truly can be joy in it. When I wrote that phrase, "struggling cleaner," I was thinking of the Dread Pile of Everything. It has been growing in our bedroom through our home renovation and contains so many varieties of things requiring so many varieties of action on my part, and I felt so terrified of it, that I had decided to hold this blog hostage and not post again until I'd tackled it. Now observe that, through the lice, I saw myself (and even Adam and the kids) mobilized like Merry Maids, not only confronting louse-related projects but also, while we were at it, spiriting away chunk after chunk of that Dread Pile. Besides that, I got the subject of my next blog post out of the experience. Through this gentle discipline I saw my Father's kindness, care, and pithy sense of irony, and it made me love Him and praise Him more.
Hebrews 12, the subject of many wonderful sermons lately and also of personal study for me, repeats this mantra: Endure. Endure. Keep the faith. The chapter is rich with truth and with arguments for the believer's holding fast to faith no matter what. Jesus endured--look to him; God disciplines you because you are sons whom he loves; This will make you peaceful and righteous. But the end of the chapter sums up what the business of faith, endurance, and submission to God's discipline are all about: hope. God is building an unshakeable kingdom.
What a perspective for all trials great and small. Are you lint-rolling a houseful of furniture in search of lice? Endure; God is building an unshakeable kingdom. Are you combing through your family's hair with the Nit-Free Terminator comb and flicking little corpses into a tub of water? Endure; God is building an unshakeable kingdom. Are you announcing to your friends and family that your family has been unwittingly exposing them for several weeks to contagious blood-sucking parasites? Endure; God is building an unshakeable kingdom.
There was a time in my life when I had no concept of submissively receiving something unpleasant from God's hand as grace. Little by little, I am learning to accept these gifts. As horrifying as lice may seem to some, this experience is definitely on the Nerfy side of the trial scale. The believers I've been reading about in Hebrews were called to endure difficult discipline and severe trials through long pain and struggle, as many believers are still. And though sometimes, as in the Nerfy nit-picking, God allows there to be a feeling of safety and closeness during a time of training, righteous people do not always feel close to God. I myself have other stories, and I know others with stories lived in the trenches of long, unremitting struggle, like this Son of Korah whose anguished cries I read today. I am so thankful that there is no reproof, no discipline, no training so minor nor so excruciating that Christ's example and God's command do not apply: Look to Jesus; Endure; God is building an unshakeable kingdom.
Nit-picking is lousy in a lot of ways, but this week I learned it's also a way to grow closer to God and to experience His love for me. I call that grace. My family and I do have a question for God, though. In this unshakeable kingdom, will there be perfect lice? And what will they eat, and where will they live, and what will they look like, and...we can wait...just curious.
Megan Larson, disciple of Christ, wife, mom, teacher, reader, writer, musician, cook, organizer, philosopher. Struggling cleaner.
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