Un-Fiction

One month from today, you too can enjoy Waiting for Unicorns. Here is a glimpse of how it is hitting us as we read an advance copy.

The current read aloud at my house is apparently pretty good. I haven’t been around for much of it at all. I think a partial chapter at the beginning and now a chapter from the middle.

Paula reads it to our children, and you can hear the different voices of the characters as she reads. This work of fiction, though, is deeper than words and the paper they are printed on. She tries to hold back tears as she reads and she has to pause at times to swallow and continue. You know a story is impactful when these kinds of things happen. I put a hand on her leg, affectionate support, as she reads out loud while we drive. There is a resonance in this story that plucks a string of pain in her heart. “This book…” she swallows back more tears. She continues to read and my own heart is wrenched. I know the pain in her heart, and I can hear it in the words she reads, so descriptive and poignant. We’re at a part where the protagonist is remembering things. Hard things to remember, memories so real they feel like they are happening again as you recall the details, and the detail is lined out in this text. I’m there in the room that is described as Paula is reading. The world fades away, and it’s just me, the protagonist, and her mother. I feel defiance rise up in my throat against the threats I’m hearing joining with the story and the struggle, and tears well up in my own eyes as the picture of love that is being described in my ears. It is dangerous for me to drive like this. I’m going to have to pull my life over to experience the entire work in its fullness. A tear escapes Paula’s eyes and narrowly misses the rim of her glasses as it rolls down her cheek and onto the seat belt across her chest. This is real. The most real fiction I’ve heard in some time.

Thank you, Beth.

 

Selflessness

Bob and Janet are a couple in the winter of life who attend our church. Janet recently entered into her eternal rest with our Savior.

In a church like Bethlehem, its easy to not meet people, or to not get to know them. Some studies show that we can only ever really “know” about 75 people very well. So, to say that I knew Janet would be a gross overstatement, though, much can be gained from observation. Directing the technical aspects of the services and attending the South Site for the past 4 years or so, I’ve seen Bob and Janet come in faithfully each week and sit regularly near the audio console. Janet’s health struggle was very clear, though specifics were never shared with me. As I watched Bob faithfully wheel her in to church each week, I received a tiny glimpse at the great love that he has for her and the even greater love they share with our great God.

Bob would carefully put her into a position where she could best see the platform, and follow along with the lyrics in worship. When we changed venues to Lakeville South High School, Bob had to change his methods. He would bring many pounds of large and heavy books to raise her wheelchair up to a higher level to give her a better vantage point. He made sure she had a copy of the worship folder so she could track where we were in the service, and would adjust her glasses for her to make sure that she was able to see properly. I could see Janet’s lips moving with the songs of praise to Jesus. Bob adjusted her in her wheelchair I assume to help her be in a more comfortable position. When it came time for the sermon, he would make sure she had her Bible, and that it was opened to the correct passage and I would watch as Janet would track with her eyes and hand the verses in the Scriptures.

Once, I saw for a moment the kind of labor it took for Bob to care for Janet, as he lifted her from her wheelchair and loaded her with great care into their car, and this on a very cold and icy winter morning. I think back on the labor it took for Bob to care for Janet and I see with great clarity the living out of what I’m sure was part of their marriage vows together before God, “to have and to hold from this day forward, for better, for worse, for richer, for poorer, in sickness and health…”

Death has now separated them, but the legacy of selfless love that I witnessed in their lives, lives on in my heart. I pray to God for the strength to pick my wife up when she needs to be carried, the diligence to make sure that she can participate in worship when circumstances make it difficult, the patience to always make sure her glasses are on straight, and the love to give up my own comfort and ease to make sure she can be at ease and in comfort, all for God’s glory, for He laid down his life for us.

Encouraged in witnessing life and death for the glory of God.