how faint a whisper

glimpses of God in a heaven-crammed earth

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to two little men

You won’t always run and throw your arms around me. Especially not outside the school door, with all your classmates around.

“When I grow up,” you said, “I will make a law so they can’t cut down so many trees.” Solving problems will not always be so simple.

Hand knit sweaters will not always be cool.

IMG_8226smallYou won’t always want to talk on and on and on about anything and nothing…ten minutes about the next lego set you want without even a pause for a comment. Someday you may not want to talk to me at all.

Life will not always seem so conquerable as, “when I grow up, I’m going to be an inventor,” nor as selfless as, “so what would you like me to invent for you?”

Picking up and dropping again helicopters fallen from oak trees to watch them whirl their short journey back to the sidewalk will not always be amazing.

Playgrounds will not always be pirate ships.

It will not always take twenty minutes to walk two blocks, crouching every three steps to pick up a leaf and hand it to me to put in my pocket, “so it doesn’t blow away.”

In fact, leaves won’t always seem beautiful enough to comment on with genuine rapture.

You won’t always want to hold my hand.


Little one, you will not always be as you are now. But you will not be altogether different, either. This is you. The boy will become the man. Grow up! I cannot stop it even if I wished to, and I don’t. In the boy hides the man, and I cannot wait to meet who the Lord will make you to be.

Little tree law maker, you will be a man. I pray you will tackle problems with the same level of resolve you possess now.

Little pirate ship captain, you will be a man. I pray you will never lose your thirst for adventure.

Little inventor, you will be a man. I pray your heart will be as selfless with your gifts as you now demonstrate so intuitively.


Little hand holder, leaping into my arms hugger, you will be a man. I pray you will show affection and emotion to the women in your life, even, and maybe especially, when others are watching and listening.

Little leaf saver, you will be a man. I pray you will extend compassion as readily to grown up and far more needing recipients as your tender heart does now to fallen leaves.

Little lego lover, you will be a man. I pray you will talk long and passionately about the things that matter to your heart.

IMG_8201smallLittle sweater wearer, you will be a man. I pray you will be able to discern between true beauty and all else which imitates it.

Little helicopter whirler, you will be a man. I pray the simple things will still fill you with wonder.

Little leaf admirer, you will be a man. I pray you will still recognize beauty, and comment on it with genuine rapture.

Right now, little man, you are so small. And there is much we grow out of that we should instead grow into. You will not always love Jesus like this, but by the grace of God, you will love Him more, and with understanding. And the One you love will not have changed at all. Oh how I pray you will grow into Him! As Aslan to Lucy, may you find Him every year bigger, yet every year more surely the same.


I do not have the answers to the road of your life. I cannot even see it, much less protect you from it’s stumbles. But I know that whatever the question you face, the answer will be found the same place it has always been,

“Stand in the ways and see, and ask for the old paths, where the good way is, and walk in it, and you will find rest for your souls.”
– Jeremiah 6:16

Little man, I pray you will stand. I pray you will ask. I pray you will believe. But most of all I pray for grace from the One who holds the boy, and who will hold the man.


“Go back, go back to the ancient paths,
Lash your heart to the ancient mast,
And hold on boy, whatever you do,
To the hope that’s taken hold of you
And you’ll find your way, you’ll find your way
If love is what you’re looking for,
The old roads lead to an open door,
And you’ll find your way, you’ll find your way
Back home.”

Andrew Peterson, You’ll Find Your Way

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of ropes and hands


The rope loops down, through the harness and up to re-trace its path through the knot. Up. Right. Down. Left. Up again, parallel to the rope hanging off the rock. Pull it tight, dress it right. My hands weave through motion almost without thought, as repetition has trained them to do. If only other areas of my life were trained so, by repetition, until I always knew the right way to go without conscious thought. So sure of each motion, like this knot. It holds my life, this knot. But I never doubt it. Not because of my ability in tying, but because I trust whomever, much wiser than I, knew this was the knot I would need to tie. And so my hands are free in following this pattern in a way they could never be without it.

The rope isn’t heavy lifted in sections, but it carries the weight of responsibility. It feels rough, passing through my fingers, solid and strong. With eyes trained above, I don’t watch the rope, but I feel every pull and lift and bend with my neck, my shoulder, my arms, my hands, all the way down to my fingertips. They open slightly, slide, tighten, pull. Like familiar moves of a dance you love. And all the while, my right hand never leaves the rope. Not until the climber I hold is safe, attached to another anchor. Only then does every muscle loosen. I look down and open cramped hands to see the blackness the rope has left as it passed through. Not heavy, but I bear its weight.

1375734_10103846507694624_267396754_nWe dangle off the side of the rock, a hundred feet below and a hundred feet above. No way to get where we are, no way to get where we’re going, except to climb and depend. My feet push off the wall in front of me, the purple webbing that holds me to the rock taut as a bowstring. I crane my neck to gaze at where the ropes above us disappear over a ledge and into an expanse of sky. Somewhere beyond the ledge he is climbing, and I belay, without words, without sight. Just a rope through which to communicate, and a constant readiness to hear him with it, and if he needs it, respond. As I hang in trust off his anchor, he trusts my hands, guiding the ropes and dropping them into the expanse below us.

I will ask much of my hands today. If not holding rope, they are gripping the rock. Sometimes my fingers wrap around a hold, steady in its solidness, while other times I am holding on barely by tips, clinging desperately, every tendon screaming. They may give at any moment, callouses scraping off the rock. My arms may fail, unable to pull my weight as high as I ask them to. My toe may slip off the tiny crack it’s wedged into. But you don’t think about falling, you think about climbing. And more often than not, that tiny crack and fingertip hold prove more than adequate if I trust them instead of my strength.

My hands reach back to the chalk bag, more routine than necessity sometimes. The fine dust sifts through the air, marks my path up the rock, and adds its white stain to the indelible imprint of the day. Broken nails and dirt, scraped and bloody knuckles, white powder caught in every crevice. They’re not pretty, but that’s because they were useful. I will gladly bear the scars of usefulness.


I may not fall, you know. I may never need the rope. But I could not climb without it. Its hold gives me freedom. Its knowledge, confidence. I need the hands that hold the rope. They free my hands to trust the holds provided by the Rock for this climb.


I try one last climb, and she steps in to belay. I am tired. I can’t give what I need to win this fight. Not today. Again and again I fall, dangling from the rope, looking up at the move I cannot make. As I fall, she catches me. As I swing in the air, she holds me.  So intent on the climb, I am not even conscious of the rope. I have no fear, and no doubts. It isn’t until returning to the ground, actually, that I turn, look, and really see. She’s loosening the rope, un-clenching her hands. And I am thankful.

We take the ropes down. I coil one in loops, feeling the reality of its weight as it is concentrated entirely on my shoulders. Dusk is falling and in the shadows the day is beginning to blend into memory with the rock face behind us. My hands are tired. My body is tired. Life is often heavy. But in this reminder of simplicity, my heart feels light. We climb and we belay. We succeed and we fall. We hold each other’s ropes in our hands. The climb continues.


Again, if two lie down together, they will keep warm;
But how can one be warm alone?
Though one may be overpowered by another, two can withstand him.
And a threefold cord is not quickly broken.
Ecclesiastes 4: 11-12

Confess your trespasses to one another, and pray for one another, that you may be healed.
The effective, fervant prayer of a righteous man avails much.
James 5:16

photo credit: Kristin Schroder

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a childlike joy

Yesterday morning I sat doing some work while my two-year-old nephew played nearby. He had his favorite stacking cups all laid out on the chair next to me and would lift each one up in turn, loudly proclaiming its number and color, then run with it over to the next room, where he was carefully constructing a tower piece by piece. It was an entirely ordinary childhood moment, but I was suddenly struck in it by his unbridled, unconcerned, overwhelming joy.

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