We write to taste life twice, in the moment and in retrospection.
- Anaïs Nin
A couple of weeks ago, I taught on John 2, where Jesus turns the water into wine at Cana and also cleanses the temple. Both of these instances are quite familiar with all who have grown up in the church, or even have a basic understanding of the Gospel accounts. As one friend, “turning water into wine is one of the easiest miracles for children to grasp. They know what wine is and they know what water is—and they know they aren’t the same.” So we learn about it early on in our time in church. The same is true for the temple cleansing. As my kids call it, this is the story about angry Jesus. He is angry. All who filled the temple with commercial endeavors were using God’s house for selfish and sinful purposes. His zeal for his Father’s house is compelling and just.
About a year ago I went for a run for the first time after hospital bed rest. After weeks of recovery from a c-section, I craved running. So I grabbed my running shoes and headed out the door. This might seem like a minor event, and it is in the grand scheme of things. People get back to running all the time after childbirth. I have before too.
Except this time, I haven’t.
As Christians, we’re called to love our neighbors as ourselves. It’s right there in Mark 12:31. We recognize that “neighbor” doesn’t just mean the people in the house or apartment next door; everyone we come in contact with is our neighbor, someone God has called us to love.
The further removed I am from the events of last year, the more I see what happened as a gift. I wouldn’t call nearly dying, or nearly losing my infant, a gift. But the fruit that came from it is one. Like Joseph in Genesis, life in a broken world meant our suffering for evil, but God meant it for good (Gen. 50:20). He wastes nothing. It always serves his purposes—even in the darkness.
One of those gifts is seeing the world through new eyes, particularly regarding platform building and the world of self-promotion (especially in Christian publishing).
Like millions of parents who have gone before us, we rejoiced at the faint pink line that showed up on our positive pregnancy test in the early morning hours. We went to work as different people that day. We went hopeful. We went excited. We went with a smile on our faces, knowing we had a secret that no one else knew yet. I remember making my first OB appointment in my car while I was on my lunch break, lest anyone hear my conversation and know that I was pregnant. I wanted to tell people on my terms, in my way.
I never got that chance.