From an outsider’s perspective, my life looks small. I am currently spending my 22nd summer at Eagle Lake Camp, where we practice discipleship and praise and “enthusiasm is contagious!” chants in the mountains of Colorado. I spent my childhood playing in its forest and dreaming of adventures while my parents met with college kids and planned programs.
In college, I majored in English Education so I could be a covert missionary in closed-off China. But first, I felt a tug back to Eagle Lake. I thought, this will be a great “Last Hurrah,” a thank you gift for all the years this place wrapped me in its embrace. Just one more summer!
And then I met a boy. We were counselors together, and at the end of the summer, camp hired him full time to direct the high school program we had labored in together. My heart rebelled. I didn’t want to risk ensnarement; I’ve seen how camp holds fast to people for years. But this boy with the blue eyes and big beard didn’t let me go, and before I knew it, I became “camp wife” at the camp I’d already given 17 summers. And not only that! To make my life smaller, I ended up teaching English at the little high school I’d attended. When old friends asked what I was up to, I’d skate by the details, and give an embarrassed little laugh when they pressed for more.
But then God spoke with Psalm 16, a sweet song of trust and provision. Verses 5-6 opened my eyes and untwisted my heart; my soul gave a sigh of relief: “LORD, You have assigned me my portion and my cup; You have made my lot secure. The boundary lines have fallen for me in pleasant places; surely I have a delightful inheritance” (NIV). NASB ends it with “…indeed, my heritage is beautiful to me.”
Sometimes it’s hard to accept what God has offered me, this little life. My portion is not glamorous; my boundary lines are neither grand nor adventurous, especially now that I’m a stay-at-home mom. Most days, I scrub smooshed blueberries out of tile grout and roar like a lion to please the girl in pigtails and tickle the feet of the boy just learning to smile. I feel lucky if my lines extend past my front door. A lot of times, my cup tastes bitter: bills keep coming, another dream is deferred, and everyone else seems to have gotten it just a bit sweeter than I.
But David says, “YOU, the LORD, have assigned this to me.” This assignation, this circumstance is what GOD, the Lover of my Soul, has given to me. It is pleasant, delightful, and beautiful because it is God’s special gift of grace to me and for my good.
And then, because God gives more than I can ask or imagine, He introduces me to the Lady of Heaven in C.S. Lewis’ The Great Divorce. The narrator tours Hell and then Heaven. While in Heaven, he watches this great Lady – beautiful and adored – walk by him. Surely, he thinks, she must have been someone incredibly important on Earth. His guide corrects him: she wasn’t anyone of note, not by the world’s standards. But she loved well everyone she encountered. And He gives me this grace: my life may be small, but I can love big and bold and beautiful. This is all He asks of me.
My heart may yearn for more, my mind sigh at this little life, but my soul whispers, “These lines are pleasant, this inheritance is beautiful. I am Beloved, and I can love well.” This boundary is my portion of grace; I recognize it and breathe thanks and, like David, say “my heart is glad and my soul rejoices.”