Build an altar, you say? I mean, this ain't the Old Testament exactly.
Well, if I recall the New Testament mentions something about being a "living sacrifice", in which case the sacrifice would be ourselves. And the best way to visualize that is by placing that sacrifice on an altar. An altar speaks of laying something down, of yielding, of death, if you please.
And what do you do with things that are outside of your control? Fret and fume and worry and despair? Yeah, me too. But when I get good and tired of that, I go build an altar.
I've had some practice at it. There have been a lot of things in my life I couldn't control. You would think it should get easier the more times you have to do it. Maybe it does, a little, but it still seems dreadfully hard each time.
By my way of thinking, if I was almighty, (don't mean to be sacrilegious here) I would kind of leave a person alone after he had built several. But my way of thinking doesn't always seem to work out in real life.
Because just recently we built another altar. At least this time we built it before we knew for sure that one was needed.
Of course, that sounds silly. We actually needed one all along; it's just that we usually wait until something feels out of our control before we see the need.
Those of you who know us know our son Myron, who is very nearly blind. He has kept a good attitude about his blindness, put it on the "altar," you might say, and been very blessed by God. As in a livelihood, a wife, a son two years ago, and then another son six months ago.
When Caleb was born we watched him closely. How happy we were when it became obvious he could see. Then six months ago Clifton was born. You may have read some about it in the "New Life" post back in the spring.
We watched him, too. The longer it went we began to wonder if there was a problem. The family doctor said he was fine but we weren't sure we agreed with him. To make a long story short, just last week the eye doctor specialist confirmed our fears. She feels pretty certain that Clifton has the same eye condition as Myron.
As you might imagine, we feel a little numb. We had pleaded with God to allow him to see. And we as parents remember the long road of wondering and struggle until we began to see some of the good that God had in store in Myron's case.
And while I'm thinking of it, let me mention something here. It's a warning. Never, I say NEVER, say something in my hearing about that maybe Myron and Heidi shouldn't have had children. If I were to hear you say that it would take every ounce of my non-resistance to keep me from getting you by the throat and choking you to within an inch of your life. (sounds a little passionate for a Yoder, I know)
But back to the altar. We had built one a few months before.
We prayed. We told the Lord that we knew we couldn't control this one. That we were releasing Cliff to His Almighty care; to do with him as He sees fit for His glory.
I think it helped us get thru the days of wondering and then facing the news of last week.
You know, when we face trouble or a great disappointment, we have the same two choices that Job had to choose between. The first one was what his lousy wife suggested; to curse God and die. The second, which Job chose to do, was to"trust Him though He slay me".
"I choose to trust Him, though He slay me,
How could I ever curse Him, then and die,
Lord, if I turn away from You, who else could I turn to,
Hold me, in the hollow, of Your hand."
And in the meantime, before we can make any sense out of the loose and confusing strands of what will become God's tapestry for Cliftons life, we will love the living daylights out of that little boy. Well, he's not so little. In the high nineties on the percentiles for height and weight. Built like a linebacker. And you should see him jump in the spring loaded jumping thing that hooks over the doorway. He jumps till he's almost gasping for breath.
We will teach him everything we can about life around him. We will have picnics and swim in the creek. Read him books that will take him on great adventures to far off places. Spend many hours riding with Pa-Pa in the loader and knuckleboom moving logs.
And most of all, help plant that seed of childlike faith, till he gets old enough to build an altar of his own.
"Sure, it takes a lot of courage
to put things in God's hands,
to give ourselves completely
our lives, our hopes, our plans,
to follow where He leads us,
and make His will our own.
But all it takes is foolishness
to go the way alone."