Pursuing the Spark

Summer is wasted on the young.  Lots of free time… no assignments due… no pressure.   It was never enough time.

Reality came racing out of the blue for me.  I graduated from high school in May.  Mark graduated from college on August 1, celebrated his birthday on August 3 and we got married on August 6!  I started to Samford University, the first go round, in September of that same year and my daughter was born the following year!

Those first few summers learning to play nice in marriage, managing a toddler and still in college…well… its all just a blur.  By the time baby girl started to school we were expecting my son and… “Summers and winters scattered like splinters and four or five years slipped away.” Did I mention I was a parrot head in a former life?

For years our lives revolved around school schedules.  When the kids where in middle school and high school Mark reminded me of my dream to finish my education and before he knew it we were juggling three school schedules.  Summer got shorter and shorter as school crept into June and started again in early August.

Just before the oldest left for college we found out about the toxic chinese drywall in our home and we have been semi-nomadic ever since living out of temporary houses, boxes in storage and digging out from under the collateral damage.  This year the baby boy is a senior in college.  The nest is not empty, my husband’s mother lives with us now,  but times they are changing and it is time to regroup.

Pursuing the spark...because marriage takes tender care and a little passion. It's never easy, but it's worth it.

I first read Robert Browning’s poem, “Rabbi Ben Ezra” in a college English class not long  after we married.  The first stanza struck a chord with me and it became the theme of our marriage which by the way turned 27 years young on Thursday!

Grow old along with me!
The best is yet to be,
The last of life, for which the first was made:
Our times are in His hand
Who saith “A whole I planned,
Youth shows but half; trust God: see all, nor be afraid!”

The first two lines, made popular by John Lennon, have been plastered throughout every one of our houses over the years; but the rest of the first stanza, less well known, has always been the most important to me.  Not only was it my desire that we would grow old together but that the last of life might somehow make the effort of the early years worthwhile.  Through many struggles I turned back to these words and the reminder that there was more to life than meets the eye.  I never fail to be amazed not only at HIS Providence but also His Sense of Humor!

In the folly of youth I imagined that at some point we would outpace obstacles and doubts.  This, of course, has not been the case.  A wise  pastor once taught us that it was a mistake to be taken off guard by the storms of life.  Life on this earth is but a chain of storms.  Once this is internalized you began to anticipate the storms and appreciate the calm rather than expecting calm and being surprised by the storms. While such a view from youth’s perspective might seem dismal it has been a great comfort over the years and yet again Browning’s verse strikes a poignant chord.

Not for such hopes and fears
Annulling youth’s brief years,
Do I remonstrate: folly wide the mark!
Rather I prize the doubt
Low kinds exist without,
Finished and finite clods, untroubled by a spark.

The storms of life have sharpened our skills and honed our vision for the future.  Disaster relief has become our passion and our hearts yearn to share the Love of Christ in the wake of such storms.  This is the Spark that lights our days ahead.  Until this point the LORD has supplied all our needs. Not always in the way we expect but HE has always made a way.  We still struggle but we trust HIM to be faithful in the future.  This is what we have to share.  There are unprecedented opportunities throughout the world to serve those who are suffering while spreading the Good News.  Without the mild afflictions of our own lives we might have been content to remain in the boat but the Spark is ever before us!  It disturbs our ease and challenges our faith.

Rejoice we are allied
To That which doth provide
And not partake, effect and not receive!
A spark disturbs our clod;
Nearer we hold of God
Who gives, than of His tribes that take, I must believe.

I know it sounds cliché but we are excited, if unsure, about what the future holds only because we trust The One who holds our future secure.  The storms of life continue to come and no doubt we will be buffeted, maybe even temporarily separated, but we do not despair watching for the calm.  Calm seas are the exception to the rule here, there is always more to do, but it will not always be so.  There is no three month “Summer” waiting out ahead of us but we have learned to live in the moment.  The sun on our face, a few free moments spent reading, even time together on the road to somewhere else.  These little moments become golden because they are appreciated.

As we regroup and prepare for the next chapter in our life we choose to chase the Spark into the future rather than dwell on the struggles or even the laurels of the past.

Which direction are you facing?

Where do your thoughts dwell?

Youth shows but half…

Liz Clayton

Liz Clayton

Liz, the mother of two wonderful adult children, and her husband desire to pursue the LORD where ever HE leads… Her spiritual gifts of prayer and encouragement have facilitated work as a disaster relief chaplain and helping parents to actively pray for their children at every age.
Liz Clayton

About Liz Clayton

Liz, the mother of two wonderful adult children, and her husband desire to pursue the LORD where ever HE leads… Her spiritual gifts of prayer and encouragement have facilitated work as a disaster relief chaplain and helping parents to actively pray for their children at every age.

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