I pour myself a glass of orange juice and carefully descend the basement steps. I stress carefully because my left Achilles tendon has suffered much of late. In the early morning it greets me with piercing soreness. Any morning it may snap and send me tumbling to the basement floor. The floor is concrete, which doesn't blend well with my pale complexion.
I make it to the bottom without incident. I walk through a doorway. My home office sits in the back corner of our partially finished basement. I have an old desk situated on an ornamental area rug. My wife bought me two lamps to read by. My daughter gave me an unwanted, bamboo-scented candle. It smells like a hospital room.
I switch on the lamps and light the candle. An unpleasant smell fills the air. I sit down gently on a mustard-colored, thrift chair. I stress gently because my left heel burns when I bend, and at any moment it may rupture, sending me sprawling.
I want to pray and read my Bible. I want to worship and reflect. I want to seize this most blessed gift of a day -- LEAP DAY! -- an event as rare as the winter Olympics and World Cup tournament. This day only comes only once every four years. It provides an historic fifth Monday in February. It inspires retailers to sell things for a discount of 29%.
But I am not leaping. I am stumbling. My sleep did not satisfy. My left Achilles aches. My whole body itches. The bamboo candle imposes its aseptic scent. And no news arrived from Ethiopia.
I gulp down orange juice and open my Thankfulness journal. Then I decide to break protocol. Instead of listing four items for which I'm grateful, I air my grievances. I write:
Acid rises in my chest. Disappointment tightens its grip around my heart... Gratitude does not mark my starting point [this morning]. I will get there. Soon. But first I rant. The ink rushes on the paper like blood from a wound. I am wounded. But it is not terminal.I begin to feel better. The confession relieves a bit of pressure. It lessens the pull of disappointment. I proceed with my routine.
I give thanks and pray prayers. I reflect on a psalm and I finish the closing chapters of Isaiah (ch. 60-66), which foretells the coming of God's Messiah (Is. 61:1-2) and New Creation (65:17-25). But God's Anointed did not come right away. There was waiting and disappointment for God's people, like suffering birth pangs (66:7-11).
Messiah has since come (Luke 4:18-19), but He returned to heaven (Acts 1:9-11). The New Creation has yet to arrive in its fullness. Justice and joy are incomplete. Waiting and disappointment continue for God's people; we all suffer birth pangs until Messiah comes back (Rom. 8:18-25; Thes. 4:13-5:3).
I close my Bible and notebook. I blow out the candle (thank goodness) and extinguish the lights. I limp up the stairs to make coffee for my wife. Someday
soon I will leap again -- for joy, for justice, for Jesus -- but today I stumble.