I didn’t expect it would be temperate in here today; I thought Apotheca in Goffstown, NH would be tropical because it is literally a breeding ground for flowers and succulents, but I’m pleasantly surprised. My spot is kissed with kind moving air, hints of mint and ginger curl around acoustic tones, and a homemade iced Kombucha is tugging my frown upside down. Something did go right today. What did I expect?
I expected that the day should match my sagging soul and rain cats and dogs for me. On cue. Because another friend is moving away. In the last 3 years I’ve lost 4 close friends to cross-country relo’s. It’s all good. For them. At times, though, my heart feels plucked clean of petals.
So, I drove myself here, this flower shop/cafe/artist colony, because it lifts my heart to behold beauty. And I want to be left the heck alone. The heart wants what it wants, as they say, and sometimes the heart wants to be left to sulk.
God had other plans. He generally does.
My expectations are almost always inaccurate predictors of God’s brilliant goodness that’s constantly rushing my way. He’s always tripping my feet with his better roads, and I never stop being shocked by that. I hate to say I’m always wrong – I mean, who wants to admit that? But what I’m facing here is that when I measure the life I expect against the life God reveals himself in, I underestimate his intentions consistently.
OK, I’m saying it. I’m always wrong.
There I was, content to be left alone to write and nurse my drink, when a lovely friend came over and embraced me. She does marketing now for this place, and as we caught up, her joy was contagious as everything about her always has been. She and this place; they belong together. Moments later I was listening to a male barista have a 15 minute conversation and sink kindly below surface chatter with a female patron 3x his age, and I got to hear them teach each other things. Not an average moment.
And then, in a most unexpected location (the ladies room), an indecent display of ruby roses caught me so off guard, it felt emotional. Perhaps I was already most of the way there. Despite its best resistance, my heart dropped her shield.
How are we comforted by the Holy Spirit? He slides across the bench and lays his unruly curls without permission on my sloping shoulder just because I paused, just because I stayed. And sad fades. I think the Holy Spirit is all about changing the subject.
Today, all I wanted was safe, and I was met with nurture frocked out in full drag.
Far too often, the good intentions of God in my day, meant to sweeten my faith, get lost in translation.
And the Holy Spirit helps us in our weakness. For example, we don’t know what God wants us to pray for. But the Holy Spirit prays for us with groanings that cannot be expressed in words. And the Father who knows all hearts knows what the Spirit is saying, for the Spirit pleads for us believers in harmony with God’s own will. –Romans 8:26-27
Let’s not lose this part in the more famous verse that follows it. If you know this chapter well, you know Romans 8:28 but stop yourself from saying it. What is the language the Holy Spirit speaks if it is too deep for words? He knows our weaknesses and does something over us that’s like speech, but it isn’t. Can we hang around in a quirky gorgeous truth (like roses in the bathroom) long enough to stop translating it for ourselves and finally feel it as comfort?
If we can, then I think there’s hope for the day when we will know that the love of God is always coming at us without having to give ourselves metaphor translations of it.
What is that like? It’s not LIKE anything. He is loving you with that breeze, that hug, that laughter that broke your silence today, that sprang from inside you like something forbidden, something raw and unsafe but decadent and real. Just to please you.
“I belong to my beloved and his desire is for me.” Song of Solomon 7:10
Brennan Manning says when we take Song of Solomon 7:10 personally,
“a number of things come to pass. The drum beats of doom in your head will be replaced by a song in your heart which could lead to a twinkle in your eye.’ – The Furious Longing of God
It’s pure joy to belong to God. I don’t want to shrink-wrap that with my translations – which can lose their meaning on their way to you. All I know is this – I felt it that day without words attached. I feel the pleasure of God and his goodness toward me when I am certain, not just finger-crossing, that I’m not just lucky when I’m blessed. I am lured and loved to the spot.