Things That Make You Grow or Shrink

alicewcaterpillar-graphicsfairy010smThere’s an interesting scene in the book, Alice in Wonderland. In the scene there is a blue caterpillar sitting on a mushroom smoking from a hookah pipe; he’s quite a mellow fellow.

Alice, who is only three inches high, is fretting over the fact that she has grown and shrunk half a dozen times in just a few hours. It’s alarming, and being three inches tall doesn’t make her happy, either. In talking with the caterpillar, she hopes he can give her answers and restore her to a normal height.

The caterpillar tells her the solution is found in the mushroom: half of it can make you small, half can make you grow. Not knowing which half is which, Alice wraps her arms around the mushroom and breaks off two pieces on opposite sides—trying to insure that she will have a piece for growing and shrinking. Wouldn’t that be nice.

For the past few weeks, I’ve been working on this blog, writing, editing, or researching several hours a day. As I do, I become alternately elated and downcast. I become elated as I contemplate the wonder and majesty of God. My words become my worship. I’m in awe as I munch on majesty. Then I talk to someone about what I’m encountering, and they look at me like I’ve truly become the Mad Hatter. “Whaaat? Hmmm. Interessstinng,” they mumble and I sense a second pair of eyes behind the pair I see. The second pair is rolling around in their head, doubting, or worse, mocking. I shrink, beginning to doubt my own sanity. Shrinking and growing—I’m doing a lot of both.

I awoke this morning (Monday) with heaviness in my heart. Perhaps it was because I got some bad news from a friend. Perhaps it was the looong, difficult prayer list prayed over in small group Sunday night. Although, it might have been the Cheerios I ate at 12:30 a.m. because I couldn’t sleep. After all, that seemed much wiser than lying there with my back hurting worrying about the 600 words I just wrote that sounded like blather. I do that. Fret when my words don’t come together. Life was heavy when I went to bed, and its weight didn’t lighten overnight. I wanted the grace to see and speak about glory, and it didn’t seem to be there.

To make matters worse, I went to see my mom this afternoon. She slept. I left. I cried and longed for more and less—more life, less suffering. As I drove to Wendy’s to nurse my multiple wounds with a chocolate frosty eaten beneath an orange-leafed tree, I realized inspiration and sorrows come and go, but grace remains, and it pursues me even if I can’t see it. Grace (God) is present in sorrow and joy. It is present when I am wordless or when words tumble from my heart like playful puppies. Grabbing hold of grace and tasting it, though, can be a little like holding mist in our fingers. Grace comes from God, so we can’t pinch it off a mushroom to eat it when we need it. However, even if we can’t hold it, we can breathe it in through our mouth by faith, closing our eyes and savoring it slightly, expecting it to do its work anyway.

I like the image in Psalm 123:2, “Behold, as the eyes of servants look to the hand of their master, As the eyes of a maid to the hand of her mistress, So our eyes look to the LORD our God, Until He is gracious to us.”

So for today, this is the posture I maintain—eyes lifted and closed, palms up and raised, mouth wide open, expectant and needy. Today, I’m small in the sorrows waiting and expecting to see what I can’t feel right now—His all-sufficient, encompassing grace pursuing me. Today I believe the impossible.

…The Mad Hatter

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