I came across one card and I find myself unable to put it down. The card I hold in my hands is dingy, torn and the writing has faded but it has been underscored, highlighted and circled. I remember when this card was written. It was during the early stages of my marriage when life was bright and shiny and new. In one corner of this card I can still see the faded splotches of spit-up from our newborn, Grace. The card reads, “Children do not make your life better. The life of a child only magnifies what is already there.” I remember writing this card. Only someone with a child can understand the simplicity and beauty of this truth. The same can be said of someone with money or with a spouse…”These things don’t make your life better…just different…and they prove to only magnify your strength or weakness.”
The inexperienced eyes of the young wife look longingly at the arms of the mother holding the baby. The young wife thinks to herself, “A baby will make it all better!” But the reality of experience says, “The baby only exposes what is already in the marriage.” If the marriage is strong, loving and stable, the baby will amplify that love, stability and strength. If the marriage is fraught with discontentment, tension and heartache, the baby will only expose and magnify the disgruntled and hard feelings. I re-read my card for the umpteenth time, “The life of a child does not make life better, only different. It reveals what is already there.”
It is upon examining this card, turning it over and over again in my shaking hands that I know this card is incomplete. I didn’t rewrite a new card but rather just added a much needed second truth. “The life of a child doesn’t make your life better. The death of a child doesn’t make your life worse, just different. Life or death only magnifies what is already there.” This is an old card with a familiar understanding but with a whole new depth. The first truth cannot stand if the second truth is error. Do the circumstances of my life make my life any better or any worse?? That is why I am still holding this card in my hand, turning it over and over, reading it in my sleep and in the shower. But still, neither truth is substantial if I don’t read the back of the card. What is on the back of this card is, in some form or fashion, what is on the back of all of my cards. I didn’t write the back. It is the handwriting of Jesus. His writing reads, “If you take My words and live by them then your life is complete. If you ignore My words and go your own way then your life will always lack.” Then the truth of my life isn’t about better or worse but about being complete.
Simple, plain and extravagant! And full of Hope! Husbands, children, money, etc…these things are temporary, inconsistent and fleeting. It seems they are here one minute and gone the next. The presence of these things in my life does not make my life better any more than the absence of these things makes my life worse. He, the Christ, makes my life complete. In the end, it is not about what I have written, scratched out, added or edited on the front side of the cards of my life that really count, it is what I have done with the writing on the back.