Once upon a time, I was a naive young woman who unwittingly permed her hair mere days before the Beloved proposed to make me his bride, and thus change my life forever. Having no use for long engagements, we were happily married 2 months later and so I am immortalized in an extremely cool long-sleeve wedding dress in a color candlelight cream with the sort of asymmetrical hemmed skirt that if you have been reading here longer than 2 blog posts, should astound none of you — and short permed hair. Probably like your grandmother. Is it what I necessarily would have envisioned for myself in my girlish days of dreaming about my wedding day (not saying I did a ton of that… truthfully, my dreams tended to involve shiny black pianos on stages with killer big bands more than tulle and rose petals)? Well, no. But perms are called perms for a reason. Something about permanence…
When we arrived to church that first Sunday after getting engaged (with my hair freshly if not sheepishly permed — pun absolutely intended. Have that one on me), one of my favorite women on the planet, then and now –let’s call her Mrs. B because there are otherwise too many delightful monikers to choose from– hugged me and informed me that men love curls, and my freshly acquired sproing was surely the reason why he proposed.
I wish all of my less admirable hair choices could be so easily defended.
I could write extensively about Mrs. B, and someday perhaps I will attempt it (though she deserves a more capable biographer. Her and her husband have lived, and continue to live, an astounding life and our family is greatly in her debt on a number of fronts, not the least of which being that she has continued to write to my Quail at least once a week, no matter where we have moved, sending packages frequently, for years and years), but this morning over a pan of eggs, I was reminded of something she said when she moved into their current home…
The B’s have moved something like 45 times, being a successful Navy family, and their current home is intended to be their last. It has an incredible kitchen with a gas range that I have possibly dreamed about at night, which is all rather ironic because for all the things Mrs. B does fantastically well, she hates cooking. Never learned, never cared to learn, is pretty happy if she can open a carton of rum raisin ice cream, because seriously do you need more than that? So when the perfect house happened to come with a largely superfluous perfect kitchen (I once cooked for a dinner party at her house so that I could use and verify it’s utter fabulousness. Together, we are the perfect hospitality team: I cook, she does all the talking), she told me the dark tale behind her dread of gas ranges, which was profound enough to deter her from ever lighting a single burner. This was not the first time she had encountered a house with a gas range, and some well-intentioned landlord along the way told her, in great detail, of the dangers of gas leaks and how the only way you could tell was when you went to light it and heard, “tick… tick… BOOM!” For reasons not difficult to fathom, the story stuck with her and so to this day, that is her caption for all gas ranges.
For the record, I did not blow up her house during the above mentioned dinner party. I did fail to cook the chicken all the way through, but that is another story for another time.
Why did this come up over my eggs this morning, sizzling on my beat-up electric stove? Because I realized how often I find myself praying that catchy little phrase or something like it these days — possibly, Reader, even for you. Don’t you feel special?
It is nervy to pray tick-tick-boom for another person, to plead with the Lord to do literally whatever it takes to bring someone you love to Himself — if what this soul needs to come to Jesus is the roof to leak while the dog is getting killed by a speeding truck 15 minutes after a cancer diagnosis, then do it, and save them. It is easier to contemplate such a dangerous prayer when the stakes are salvation, when you are doing battle for an eternal soul. But what about offering that prayer for sanctification? What about…
Because you and I both know that our idols don’t shift easily. Given the choice between leaning fully on the Lord and trusting in my own strength, I am like Emily of New Moon —
“No, I am not pigheaded. I accept stone walls. But I take a good deal of convincing that they are stone walls and not cardboard imitations. Therefore, I am a little stubborn.”
To my shame.
But if what I want is a heart that pleases God, if my desire is to love justice, to love mercy, and to walk humbly with my God, then He has to blast apart my foolish dependence on self. He has to shatter my idols to the point where my helpless rebellious fingers are incapable of finding the pieces, much less putting them back together. Praying tick-tick-boom for myself is to invite the omnipotent hand of my Creator and King to blast apart my will, to bring trials to my life, to test me with physical pain and emotional frustration and financial strain — anything and everything, if it serves to kill my deathly sin and draw me closer to Himself.
Go ahead, Lord. Make hay of my idols, burn them down. Tick… tick… BOOM.