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So I just fell off instead.
Have you ever been there? Because of busyness I don’t take time to process different stresses or emotions, don’t take time to let God work deeply in my heart, so I settle for the tightrope walk of happiness. I teeter carefully, avoiding anything that might bump me the wrong way. But the inevitable result is that a tiny nudge of another person can send me tumbling off my tight-rope of happiness, when I had thought I was firmly planted on the ground of inner peace.
Have you ever walked that tightrope?
My grandfather, Howard Zoet, was a prize-fighting boxer and a poet. He was also an amazing man of God, the kindest man I’d ever known (until I met Jeff, who truly is the kindest man I’ve ever met), and a lover of words. He is the one who gave me my passion for writing. It was at my grandma’s funeral, at the age of 11, standing before the kind eyes of my grandpa, that I read my first poem out loud–a tribute to her life. I did it for him. Now, in my kitchen I keep a photo of him, holding me as an infant–asleep in his arms. He died when I was 13.
But when I was just a toddler, he published a book of poetry. In the back he included a section where he wrote a silly little poem for each of his grandchildren–just five of us. I was the youngest, and the only girl. The part I’ll always remember, from A Poem for Karina, is this stanza:
Kari, you are kind of funny. When you’re good, you’re oh so sunny!
But when you decide to cry, things sure change–oh me oh my!
Yes, I was 2 at the time, but I think if my grandpa were here today to write my poem 30 years later, it may read exactly the same way. I still am amazed at how I can swing from high to low. Why? We all know the answer–not keeping our eyes on Jesus, being too concerned with self, etc. But I love this example in Genesis, that I just read again the other day:
Joseph’s brothers, who had long ago sold him into slavery, now experienced the grace and deliverance of living in the land of Goshen, in Egypt, and receiving provision during the famine. They’d experience miraculous grace, forgiveness, provision. But as soon as their father, Israel, died, they panicked. Chapter 50 tells us they feared Joseph would pay them back for all their evil, so they sent a message to him (too scared to go in person!), begging him to be kind to them, then they went in person and fell down before him, offering themselves as his servants, if Joseph would just promise to be kind to them.
And what I love is Joseph’s response, which is a comfort and a rebuke all at once:
“Do not fear, for am I in the place of God?” (50:19)
The comfort is, don’t worry–I’m not going to harm you. But the rebuke is–Why have you put me in the place of God? Why have you set your hope on my mercy, rather than God’s? Why have you made me big and God small? Or, perhaps applicable to us today, Why have you set your happiness on my approval, my provision, my decisions?
Their fear, anxiety, and turmoil was all simply because they had placed someone else in the place of God. They’d put Joseph there instead, and there’s only room for One. And amazingly, Joseph himself is the one to remind them that he belongs in no such place. No one is in the place of God–no boss, no spouse, no friend, no family member, and no circumstance. What they had meant for evil, God meant for good. Nothing can thwart the will of our God.
Of course as long as we live we’ll have those ups and downs, oh me oh my! But my hope and prayer is to at least be a little more stable than I was when my grandfather penned those telling words. 30 years ago I believe Joseph reveals the key to it all. Who or what is in the place of my God? There’s only room for One. And when He’s there, there is no tightrope walk. We can climb down from that unstable place and plant our feet on the stability of the Rock.
Standing steady, at least for today! Thanks for reading.