The pillows on the prayer bench that sags more every year beneath the weight of time, have slipped between the bench and backrest as if seeking warmth.
The cross that hung on the fence there, fell off it's tack and lies on the bench.
A plastic grocery bag lies in the corner. The garbage truck sent it sailing days ago. And a plastic water bottle sliced clean in half lies near the freshly cut wood pile. Brothers. Now grown men with wives. The same two boys who chewed their toast into weapons they wielded in their chubby soft hands from booster seats at breakfast table, and yeah, that morning I decided it was a battle against manhood to say, "No toy guns or swords."
Christmas day, and one gave an ax to the other. And the other received a sword. From his wife. Ax man tossed the water bottle and I admit it was impressive to see it sliced mid-air like that. They played, with real weapons in man hands, and my wood pile is chopped and the brush pile is sliced through.
A red-headed woodpecker dances arbitrary slapdash around hardwood trunk. It's a hit-or-miss morning and I'd go inside because it's cold out here, but I won't because I hear Him whisper, "Stay a moment longer," as I turn to go in. My self complains, "I wanna go in," and I say to self, "I know you want to, but you can't." It's a familiar exchange.
I stay, hoping this won't take long and feeling like the woodpecker wanting food and hopping on one foot then the other to stay warm in the wait.
"I feel like what this backyard looks like, Lord." I'm just a little strewn inside.
He's silent; waiting because He knows there's more.
"Is it possible," I venture gentle and timid, "to be fenced in by what I've been delivered from? Limited by the freedom I've found?" It's odd to ask, but I do ask because until now I haven't had words to articulate the question.
Thing is, I've been delivered from trust issues that tore me open, and from fear that fenced me shut. Yet, in this moment I know there's more. Without apology, I know there's more. With highest worship and humblest "thank You" that I will never cease to say to Him who has proven Himself faithful and as my hope I say, "I know there's more."
I'm a tad hit-or-miss this morning. But I feel the presence of God in my backyard, and if my soul has a backyard, and it does, understanding is dawning there somewhere between freedom and fence. And beyond it. Because there's more.
He asked me to stay a bit longer, so I am. I stare at the fence, waiting and, "Uh, Lord? Since when has there been a hole there in the fence?" It's a small square peek hole where a board has cracked and slipped down an inch or so.
"Look though it." He's not chatty right now. He knows I'm cold.
I look through it, sort of. I'm frozen to the patio, so I look through it from the short distance. It's enough; and who can adequately put dawn into words? I just look through the hole to what's beyond the fence. More. And I look up through bare tree branches to what's beyond them. More.
"Ahhh," my breath collects and hangs, "There's more." I see it and it hangs like holy breath right in front of me, at the threshold of more.
"Yep, there's more." He nods, and I can go inside now.
Four plastic storage boxes are waiting to return to the attic and they aren't neatly stacked or lined up by the door, but that's okay because the boxes will still be there come morning, and the energy will too. It's not, now. I used it up filling them. I "packed up Christmas" and this year I did it differently than years past. It wasn't a chore to complete, but a moment that counted. It counted, because I've spent the past year redeeming time and making moments count.
"Redeem time because the days are evil," I'm told in scripture. Take the petal off the metal and train the breaks.The more I practice it, the more I get it. The evil one would speed time away, because he knows his days are short. The evil one would distract me from making moments count because somehow making moments count, paying attention to each moment, slows time down. It does and I haven't the slightest how that really works, but it does. It worked like that this morning in backyard dawn; and again in the boxing.
I've been packing faith and hope into my heart like I packed into boxes the decorations that declare the coming of Christ in the flesh. I've been collecting faith everywhere possible, because I've had trust issues and a faith crisis that came out stright forward honest, "God, if You ever stop proving Yourself faithful to Your word, then I will have little left to say to You."
I've fought for faith and hunted hope for so long, it feels odd to come up against a fence.
"I'm free," I puzzle before God. "I'm freer than I've ever been; so why this fence?"
"It's for freedom that I have set you free." He speaks.
He takes my breath away. Just takes it from my lungs and wraps it up in a cloud like He did when I ventured to breathe, "Is it possible to be limited by the freedom I've found?"
"Faith, hope, love, these three; but the greatest of these is love," He speaks 1 Corinthians 13:13 to me, and I'm at threshold with Bible open, frozen to the spot, "Lord, since when has that been there, like it is now?"
"Since this morning." He sounds so pleased with Himself!
Faith is the evidence of things not seen, but hoped for.
The commandments of God were written on rock solid stone tablets; weighty faith to live by.
Then what? Christ came in flesh as faith embodied. And He did more than keep the commandments. He fulfilled the commandments.
I'm peeking through holy words in 1, 2, and 3 John and they're opening wide. "For this is the love of God, that we keep His commandments" (1 John 5:3).
It's sinking in. Is there any greater freedom than keeping the commandments already fulfilled by the love of God? Love fulfills it's own.
"Love is everlastingly more!" I want to put my mouth up against the hole in the backyard fence and shout this exultant "more" through it to the other side.
"Ah, Lord!" What can I say? I want to borrow my son's ax and whack wide open the peek hole in the fence, but I don't need it.
The love of God is opening me. And that's more.
written by: Carolyn-Elizabeth