The Neverending Story

Part of my morning ritual is the art of selecting the perfect mug companion for the day. Some moms lunge at their morning cup like a marathon runner on mile 17, paying no matter to the vessel that holds their brew. The one they can grab the fastest is as good as any other. Other moms take pride in buying the matching set. All their mugs are exactly alike. They don’t need to reflect on mug epistemology—how ceramic feels completely different on your lip than porcelain, or how your thumb nestles cozily into that dent on the side. Some handles are designed for all four fingers to fit in nicely, while others appeal to your desire for sophistication (you know, on a “pinkies up” kind of day).  I have an eclectic collection of mugs. They hang from the ceiling, all beckoning me with their special qualifications. This morning I chose to reach for a mug that is not on my ceiling, or in my cabinet. It is displayed on a shelf in my dining room. Apparently, my great-grandfather was the type of guy who drank from the exact same mug every single morning. My grandmother wanted me to have it. These are the types of heirlooms that are special to me. I’m not so interested in the hoity-toity, pointed vase that was purchased on a trip to Thailand, or grandma’s expensive hummingbird brooch that will remain under the lid of my jewelry box until I pass it to one of my kids. I appreciate having something they used everyday in ordinary life. My family often eats off of the same plates my dad did daily when he was a kid. They had a few chips in the black glaze revealing the terracotta ceramic underneath when they reached my family. And we’ve added a few more. I love that. So this morning I have been thinking of my great-grandfather, whom I never knew, as I’ve been going about my tasks. It’s certainly not a mug that I would pick to drink from everyday, but I am appreciating how the naturally-stained crackle testifies to this mug’s loyal service. It’s not like I actually think that my great-grandfather is “with me today” because I’m drinking from his coffee cup. But because I am drinking from his coffee cup, I am thinking of him, and loyal service. And ancestry. As I was drinking and thinking, I contemplated the raucous it would cause if we had one of Christ’s everyday items. Certainly it would be turned into an idol of worship. It reminds me of how Hezekiah had to shatter the very bronze serpent of Moses’ that was used to commemorate God’s mercy to his people (2 Kings 18:4). Heck, we seem to easily gather around a grilled cheese sandwich that appears to have the crusty image of our Savior crafted in butterly deliciousness. As I thought about how God’s children are co-heirs with Christ that will receive a future, full inheritance; I thanked my Father for the heirloom he has preserved for us in these last days. We have his Word. Our God is not silent. And he still speaks to us in his Word today. Think of the care and providence involved in the Holy Spirit’s inspiration of the Word, and the people God used to transcribe, protect, distribute, translate, and faithfully preach the Words of God! These words tell the grand drama of covenant and redemption and are thoroughly sufficient to equip God’s children. And amazingly, I am cast into this drama, kind of like the Neverending Story without the selfish fairy-tale wishes. There is another whole world opened up to us that is, in a sense, more real than the present. Every Sunday, I get to partake in a covenant renewal ceremony, giving me a taste of future breaking into the present. These are not dull words lolling on a page. They are living and powerful. Our Father truly has the power to create what he speaks. The earth was made by the command of his Word. Likewise, he turns a heart of stone into a heart of flesh through the regenerating power of his Word. This preserved Word of God, passed down to his children, is an heirloom to be treasured. It is proof that, as Schaeffer so aptly put it, God is there and he is not silent. As I hold my warm mug this morning and speculate on what it tells me about my great-grandfather, I can imagine what kind of personality reaches for the same mug every morning. I can even come up with something lofty like loyal service. But I don’t have to speculate with my God. He has handed down his very Word. I can know his attributes because they are in black and white. I can know my sinful condition because he tells me. I can know of the most amazing act of love in history—that he sent his very own Son in humility to live and die on the behalf of his beloved. And I know that he is with me always, even to the end of the age.