Yesterday, I did not know that a salad covered in dressing and left in the refrigerator for a half an hour will come out with the lettuce leaves wilted; I did not know I was out of bread yeast; I did not know that the longest river in Great Britain is the Severn.
A week ago, I did not know that the deer had returned to our neighborhood; I did not know that our neighbors had a new dog; I did not know that I could be moved to tears by an unexpected phrase in Old English (wordum wrixlan).
A fortnight ago, I did not know that there is a lake up in the Snoqualmie range that reflects God’s glory disguised as trees and rocks and bright, blue sky; I did not know that I could laugh so hard in water so cold; I did not know that I could guide three friends around Seattle using only a map and gut instinct and never once get lost.
A month ago, I did not know that my daughter could do a Latin grammar crossword in half and hour; I did not know that adding lemon zest to blueberry muffins zings them to another level; I did not know how irritating I would come to find King Solomon during family Bible study.
Three months ago, I did not know that I could ever run more than two miles at a time; I did not know that one cup of coffee is OK before a run, but never two; I did not know that the etymological root of parable was Greek (para+bole= to throw alongside), not Latin (parare=to prepare), as I had thought (thank you, Mrs. Arends).
Six months ago, I did not know how I was ever going to survive homeschooling my daughter; I did not know how I was ever going to survive teaching a Sunday School class full of rambunctious boys; I did not know that my favorite king from Chronicles would be Hezekiah.
A year ago, I did not know how much I would love learning Latin; I did not know that I was going to lose my job; I did not know how many times my heart would break over the next year.
Five years ago, I did not know about George MacDonald; I did not know that my dad had had a mild stroke he was hiding from me; I did not know this beautiful thought: “In a nutshell, the Bible, from Genesis 3 to Revelation 22, tells the story of a God reckless with desire to get His family back" (thank you, Mr. Yancey).
Ten years ago, I did not know how much I would love being a mother; I did not know half of my wonderful friends; I did not know that I would find a true calling in teaching Sunday School.
Eleven years ago, I did not know that airplanes could be used as weapons to murder thousands. I do not think many of us did.
Fourteen years ago, I did not know what it was like to lose someone very close to you.
Seventeen years ago, I did not know my Savior.
Today, I do not know what joy or sorrow lies in wait for tomorrow; today, I do not know when that thief in the night may come; I do not know if, tomorrow, I’ll awake to find the sun still ruling over the day, or live to see the moon rule again over the night; I do not know much about things political, metaphysical, psychological, or pedagogical. And, though I dig in with my fingers and strain with my arms to get a hold of the future, it eludes me. This great Not Knowing would be almost too great, I think, but for the one thing I know for certain: what I learned seventeen years ago. Jesus Christ is who He said He is, and He is going to do everything He said He is going to do.
Wordum wrixlan drew tears from my eyes the other day when I came across the phrase, because it means an “exchange of words” in Old English. So much of how we experience God is based upon an exchange of words. We offer up our words of prayer and psalms and hymns with praise and wonder and weeping; He offers us His inspired recorded word and His ever-unfolding revelatory Word made flesh. The phrase also carries with it a sense of word-weaving, and it was used by the Anglo-Saxons to describe the power of poetry. When I am peevish or petulant or angry or terrified by the Not Knowing, I can turn to His mysterious wordum wrixlan to bring me back to what I do know.
Today, I know that He who began a good work in me will be faithful to complete it (hallelujah!); today, I know that He knit me together in my mother’s womb to be fearfully and wonderfully made as one of His marvelous works; today, I know that when I weep, it will never be as one without hope; today, I know that I am part of the flock who ought not to fear, for it is our Father’s good pleasure that we should inherit the kingdom; today, I know that only in Him is life and that His life is my light and the light of all men, and the darkness will never comprehend Him; today, I know that He can do everything, and that no purpose of His can ever be withheld from Him; and, even when I falter and fail today, I know that so long as He lends me breath I can rise again to be steadfast and immovable in His work, reassured that, not only are His mercies new every morning, but that, in Him, my labor shall never be in vain.
On September 13, I will have known my Savior for seventeen years. I have learned a few things since then – much of it of the trivial gets-burned-up-on-Judgment-Day sort, alas; but, there have been lessons of gold and silver and precious stones mercifully scattered as well – but, nothing I’ve learned would bolster and bear me up to meet the Not Knowing of life had His love not stormed the towers of my heart those many years ago. And it is enough. It is enough to know that neither death nor life, nor angels nor principalities nor powers, nor things present nor things to come, nor height nor depth, nor any other created thing, shall be able to separate me from the love of God which is in Christ Jesus our Lord. Yes, indeed, it is enough.