I’m struck by the oddity of it all. Our Easter Sunday seemed so unconventional. We slept in, enjoyed the Sabbath and anticipated worship under a tent when most were already napping, high heels kicked off at the door. Instead of getting up early and donning our best, I watched the CBS Morning Show in my pajamas while H made pancakes. And I’m asking repeatedly, “Why.”
Why unconventional feels like being stuck when you don’t choose it, edgy when you do. Why we celebrate ten years of holidays and milestones far away from family. Why churches split. I don’t expect God to answer my questions. After all, Easter Sunday, whether under a steeple or a tent, isn’t about meeting my needs.
I used to think my preferences about worship and community didn’t matter. Until they became elusive. The grief of unrequited desire eventually transforms passion to a Sunday function. I’ve traded the exclamation point of fulfillment for a hollow question mark dangling by the threads of my past experience.
Lingering under my comforter, re-reading Wonderstruck, Chapter 002 from my Kindle propped up on my knees; the fragrance of coffee brewing in the kitchen settles me. But I’m suddenly startled when H appears quietly in the doorway and tosses three letters on the mattress next to me. I forgot to collect the mail on Saturday. He remembered it.
I scoop up the letters in the order they slide like a deck of cards fanned out on the sheets, open each one slowly. Savoring this Easter gift on the day our mailbox normally mimics the tomb.
The first one is a hand written note embossed with Margaret. It’s not often you get personal mail from the author of a book you just happen to be reading. But the letter isn’t just from an author; it’s from a friend letting me know she’s praying “for creativity, clarity and courage to follow Jesus.”
The second, a card from my friend Nancy declares, “All things are being made new. All things.I look forward to walking through Wonderstruck with you.” And I’m shocked by the timing of her encouragement.
When I open the third card from my Dad, I’m overcome with wishes for “a season filled with wonder and beauty.” And my mouth is now drawn open but silent.
Because this is what I happened to be reading, the entire page now highlighted on my Kindle:
Sooner or later we all encounter situations that leave us baffled. Whether a single event or a series of circumstances that assault us with shock and awe, we’re left with the unanswerable questions of why? Why me? Why now? Why again? When we ask such questions to the exclusion of all else, we can miss opportunities to encounter God in our midst. Yet the invitation to awaken the wonder all around us remains: even in the affliction, even in loss, even in the pain, God’s presence remains. ~Wonderstruck, Chapter 002
Yes, God’s presence remains. And wonder cracks off the whys.
I ate an extra pancake, savoring unconventional one sticky, syrupy bite at a time. We sauntered off for worship under a glowy mid-day tent of meeting, inhaling the fragrance of Jesus, lost in sacred time. All my questions and sighs lassoed by the peace in a single word.
“Where were you when I laid the foundation of the earth? Tell me, if you have understanding. Who determined its measurements—surely you know!” (Job 38:4-5) And who brought you the mail on a Sunday, stacked it in the order you would open it, so my message would resonate above your whoa- filled sighs?
Resurrection lives in the Who, not in the answer to your Why. Whether in bed or under a tent, His wonder is always close by. It might just be stacked in your mailbox.
In the most opaque circumstances of life, even when He feels a million miles away, the knowledge of the presence of God allows us to find joy when everything else says we should be crying. ~Margaret Feinberg
In what areas of your life do you sense the Holy Spirit saying, it’s time to start asking Who instead of Why?
Today Duane Scott and I are co-hosting a book club and discussion on Wonderstruck by Margaret Feinberg. Link up your posts on finding the wonder of God in the everyday (they’ll show up on both our sites) and join the discussion in the comments and on our Facebook page throughout the week, Redemptions Beauty Book Club.
BOOK CLUB SCHEDULE
April 10: Chapter 002-003
April 17: Chapter 004-005
April 24: Chapter 006-007
May 1: Chapter 008-009
May 8: Chapter 010-Final Thoughts
Every Monday in April, I’ll be giving away a copy of Wonderstruck to one lucky person who leaves a comment at Living the Story, my column at BibleDude.net.
Linking with Emily for Imperfect Prose and Jennifer for Tell His Story.
Beautiful thoughts, Shelly. Your post reminded me of a favorite quote of mine. The author is talking about Job…who had plenty of reasons to ask why…”God wants us to be healed, not informed, and that takes times…His
(Jobs) declaration confirms that, more than the answer to the ulitmate
‘why’ question, God wants us to know the answer to the ultimate ‘who’
question.” Randy Newman
Yes, God presence trumps the “why”.
Love that quote Eileen. I’ve been thinking a lot about how God responded to Job with questions. I’m in a season where He is doing that with me too. “God wants us to be healed, not informed” there is so much truth in that. Always lovely to see you here in the comment box.
Oh, Shelly, tears here–hot, unexpected tears.
Your invitation to share older posts, and your story that begins on a holiday, begins asking “why,” and then receiving a bounty of His wonder – – – it took me right back.
So glad you linked up Sheila and it blesses me to know the words here were timely for you. Lots of love to you my friend.
It’s crazy…when I find the Who, I forget all my whys…and I’ve got some I’d rather forget. Here’s to seeking Who today.
(this book is rocking my world, too…I just can’t put it in words yet!)
So true isn’t it Nikki. I’m trying to do this as a discipline now. Catching myself shifting my mental talk to Who. I’m so glad you are enjoying the book, thrilled you are joining us. And the words will come. Can’t wait to see what He tells you to share.
“Yes, God’s presence remains. And wonder cracks off the whys.” Love that line, because it’s so true. We stil ask why but the answer doesn’t matter so much as long as we know the Who. We once had a sermon series called, “How big is your God??” I never forgot it and I think of it often when I wonder why and lose my “wonder” Great post, Shelly as usual! I sure love this series!
Yep, the answers seem insignificant in that light don’t they Lori? So glad you are joining us, look forward to read what you linked up. I’ve had a busy day and ready to settle in with blog posts.
Hey! Thanks for the shout-out–and for the glimpse of the lovely card designed by my friend Bonnie Liefer.
There was so much in these couple of chapters, but the redirection of the question from why to who is such an important reminder. Your story of the timing of this mail delivery truly illustrates the surprising ways God acts when we see him at work behind everything. Mail arriving on Easter Sunday? Who ever would have imagined such a thing?
Oh my, to think the card was also designed by a friend Nancy, that makes it even more special. I actually had a hard time with the photo I took because I wanted that whole card in the shot, its gorgeous. Frameable. Thank you so much for sending it to me. I love cards and the words on it were just so perfect.
Nancy’s card blew me away. Because we know, don’t we?
Yes, we do. It made it even more special. I’m hanging it on a board I have in front of my writing desk. Actually thinking I need a bigger one to hang all the ways God is loving me through the words of others.
“And wonder cracks off the whys”…. this line is stirring hope in me today. Thanks for the reminder. I’m going to fix my mind on the WHO today.
Alicia, so glad you linked up. I’m looking forward to hunkering down and reading blog posts in a bit. Always love your stories.
You know I am usually not at a loss for words but this….oh, I needed to remember the Who in the whys I have faced over the past few days. Those whys needed “cracked” off. You know that card from your Dad really got to me. When I eulogized my grandmother last week, my Daddy heard me speak about her and about our shared faith. He saw a side of me he doesn’t know. He called me the next day to thank me for my words—and well you know–I was “wonderstruck.”
(Just got my book today–living in a whirlwind over here…but going to try to catch up.)
And you are one of the few that would pick up on the card from my Dad Dea. Thank you.You’re going to love the book, I just know it. Savor it.
I love that chapter in Wonderstruck and as always, your words are lovely…Thank you, Shelly…I was so happy to read about the card from your dad 🙂
Thank you Dolly. I loved that you hosted Dea on your site this week. You both have stories to tell that are conduits of healing for others.
Amen! Every time I hear stories of how God is blowing people away with his wonders in such obvious ways I am truly wonderstruck. In his faithfulness, God is continually revealing glimpses of himself– even in the mail! Astounded at the timing of those letters. God is working in our midst– even if we don’t see it right away. Hug to you sweet friend.
It’s actually blowing me away Margaret. I’m in a season where I think He is giddy with making my mouth drop open with wonder. Surprising me continuously. Your card and words to me, one of those moments. It seems like right when I’m second guessing, he is right there showing me why not to. So thankful for the way He has brought you into my life. Your words are being used to transform lives.
loving this Wonderstruck journey with you 🙂
So glad to have you as a sojourner Lisa!
I “accidentally” stumbled across your blog today and was amazed by how God spoke to me through your post. As a single woman who never imagined I would still be single at 40-something, I am forever asking “Why?”. I was struck by the knowledge that the “Who?” question is much more productive and therefore will leave me with greater peace and joy in my heart. I hope that moving forward the “Why” question will become prompt for me to focus on “Who?”
Oh, I’m starting to believe, well maybe being continuously convinced, that there are no accidents Carli. Love the way God brought you here and I’m thankful. It’s a pleasure to meet you.
It is no happenstance that I posted a similar post today! 🙂 God is working to show us how wonderful he is. Thank you for sharing!
Oh yay, Nicole. So glad you linked up and landed here. Welcome!
This is so beautiful. I could say more, but I’m going to feature it this weekend at my place. Thank you!
Thanks Duane, appreciate your kindness.
My Easter is still swirling around in my mind. Our Easter was spent on a beach on the Pacific in the midst of thousands of strangers, toes in the cold sand, the Holy Spirit in the Light between the clouds, and my heart released with the white doves at the end of the service…
Who indeed… For the times I’ve not sought Him, I too turn to Job… and “repent in ashes…”
Beautiful words that lead us Home. Thanks.
We’re on opposite coasts Floyd, and even when you’re among familiar faces, it can feel like sitting among an ocean of strangers.
I do wish I had found you when you were reading Wonderstruck together. I read it in the winter – a number of times. Now I am leading a Bible study Wonderstruck. I blog about it too. I will be linking it to UTCOP – Under the Cover of Prayer where I am posting tomorrow. http://underthecoverofprayer.wordpress.com