The Greatest Theologian Among all the Sprouls
Monday was the 16th birthday of my little girl Shannon. And I am missing all that she taught me. Her nickname, well earned, is Princess Happy. Her happiness, however, was born less from easy circumstances, more from deep wells of gratitude. She suffered from debilitating seizures. Unable to speak or to feed herself, she walked with difficulty and fell frequently. But she had all that she needed or wanted. She knew she was loved by her family. She knew she would be fed, clothed, cleaned, changed. And often, she was given a balloon. Oh the delight she took in balloons, colorful droplets of moon juice.
I, on the other hand, I grumble. It’s hot here in Florida. There’s traffic. I have a great deal on my plate to get done. My ice-maker has become an annoying noise maker. All because I have a calcified heart that knows not the blessings I have. As I type, itself a profound blessing, that part of my job is writing these pieces that I have been told have helped others, I get to listen to Andrew Peterson and Nathan Clark George on my computer, reminding me, “When you lay me down to die, you lay me down to live.” I have a cold glass of orange juice before me, a delicacy kings did not enjoy just 100 years ago. Despite the truth that it is hot outside, I am quite comfortable. Despite the fact that Florida isn’t the most lovely state in the union, I have a beautiful view of Lake Ligonier, and on the other side, the cathedral like building in which Jesus fed me just last night.
There is noise outside my office, distracting me from my writing and my listening. But the noise is being made by the students at Reformation Bible College, the young men and women that I am privileged to teach the very Word of God. They are the kind of people that give me reason to hope about the future of the church in this country.
Tonight I will gather with friends to teach a Bible study on the nature and calling of the church. One of my dearest friends will be spending the night at my home tonight. We will, no doubt, talk about the grand project we are working together on, the planting of Ascension Presbyterian Church. And in two days I head to the old country, Ireland, to teach on the sovereignty of God.
I have wonderful work to do, wonderful friends to work with, wonderful surroundings and circumstances in which to do it. All I lack is what my Shannon had all the days of her life, and somehow even more now—wonder. The wonder of it all is that I, despite being surrounded by wonder, miss it. Ingratitude is so hard to see in ourselves precisely because it encourages us to overlook all that we have to be grateful for. Ingratitude need not be a petulant child screaming “More!!!” after pillaging a pile of birthday presents. It can simply be us grumbling quietly to ourselves. It can be us, being Eeyore.
I am the most guilty of all, for I have been given so much. I have seven children with me who love me, each other, and Jesus. And I have Shannon’s example. Lord, make me as she was, that I might become what she is.