prepare to be amazed
She says it like it’s a thing you have to say to feel good about the day:
Alright then, so I am pre-pared to be amazed.
Her voice falls heavily on the two most important words in the sentence, prepared and amazed, and of course, she draws my attention.
I roll back from my desk and turn, craning to see her. Who’s she talking to?
Look at the nations and watch—
and be utterly amazed.
For I am going to do something in your days
that you would not believe,
even if you were told. (Habakkuk 1:5)
The verse echoes, a favorite of mine, one I pray right back to God nearly every day. I’m ready. Amaze me. But am I really? Ready? In scripture, that’s not just a decision, it’s a something for which a person prepares. “Consecrate yourselves, for tomorrow the Lord will do amazing things among you,” Joshua said to the people (Joshua 3:5). Consecration, or setting apart for God, means surrendering ownership to Him, as in the sense of devoting a life, and it always comes after cleansing.
“Alright, now it’s time to take a shower,” she says, her voice rhythmic, lilting like this is a song. Riley stands in front of our dry erase board in the kitchen, plum-purple marker staining the tips of her fingers. She verbally marks her day with declared lists. Okay, I’ve done this…now this, then this. At times, I honestly feel that the repetition of her life in step-by-step fashion will one day be the reason cited for my slow spiral into complete insanity. Still, deterring her remains an exercise in futility. This child of mine we thought might never speak at all feels best about a day routinely lived right out loud, and it’s as though hearing it in her own voice–each rhythmic, expected syllable—frees her from her fear of unexpected changes.
In some ways, I understand. As a little girl, I used to pause in the doorway of the living room when it was time for me to go to bed, staring at my pudgy toes jutting out below the ruffled hem of my night gown, squinching them in the carpet. I had one more thing to say–always, the same five words, to which I expected—craved–an echoed, repetitious, same same response. I thought if I said, “See you in the morning,” in the same lilting, cheery way every night, pushing my brassy hair out of my eyes with one hand, grasping my mother’s dark eyes across the room, and if she looked up at me and agreed–See you in the morning, smiling in that tired mama way, nothing would happen to change my life overnight. I even imagined my parents might still be sitting right there in just this way when I woke up, she fingering the edges of a piece of her jigsaw puzzle, he with his head propped on a pillow against the sofa.
There was something about the saying, because spoken words take on a more solid shape, drawn in the mouth on the tongue, and sound has its own motility. Spoken words move; they are an expectation already propelled toward fulfillment. I guess for Riley and Adam, having a schedule they can see has always been a lot like that; it’s a kind of insurance against surprises. And here she is now, planning to expect them. But saying the schedule, well that’s the launch of happening, the energy of intention taking its solid shape. And in fact, Adam loves to hear Riley’s commentary–grins like someone gave him a gift–because in his mind all that recited same same feels like a favorite t-shirt against the skin. But, “I am pre-pared to be amazed?” What is this thing she’s done, adding those words to her own spoken to-do list? She’s not only expecting to be amazed, she’s moving toward it, just by giving the intention its volume. Or maybe, the Spirit lit a spark in her to remind me it’s what I should be doing. Because I’ve never seen a cleaner heart.
I sit watching her, the marker dancing in her fingers as she leans forward and says aloud, “So, I can check that off,” wondering when the expectation of amazement landed on her to do list, like an item naturally flowing from all the other seemingly ordinary elements of living, and this one not even written, but only, somehow, implied. Since when does finishing your chores and taking your shower add up to amazed? But then, she’s not saying she is amazed, just that she’s ready, prepared to be amazed. And what am I prepared to be at the end of my day and all my routine same same crazy crazy living? Usually, the only thing I’m pre-pared to be is emptied, or asleep.
“O-kay, so I’m pre-pared to be amazed, so yep,” she says again and, “Al-right it is time to get to work.” She walks away from the list like someone marching into action, purposeful, deliberate. The last word fades behind her, trailing up the stairs. I am suddenly aware that I will now hear that one proclaimation perhaps hundreds of times every day: Okay, so now I am pre-pared to be amazed. I am prepared to be amazed, yep. I am prepared to be amazed, so now I need to… And God does have a sense of humor, and He knows how many repetitions it takes to get through to me. I sit back in my chair, thinking. Maybe amazement is never routine, but shouldn’t the expectation of it, indeed, the preparation for it, be as everyday as brushing my teeth? God has promised to “do more than we ask or imagine according to His power at work within us (Ephesians 3:20-21),” but don’t we have to do something to get out of the way so He can do that work? Doesn’t this mean every day cleaning (of the heart) and every day releasing ownership of me right into His hands, devoted?
Upstairs, I hear her still talking, “So, yep and yep, and yep…”
She’s one mighty yes. For no matter how many promises God has made, they are “Yes” in Christ. (2 Corinthians 1:20)
I flip open my planner and scrawl the words in broad strokes, right at the top of my own list of intentions. Then I say them out loud, letting them move:
I will prepare to be amazed.