The Lump in God’s Throat

He leaned over to Kim and said, “Can you believe he’s 53?”

It was a remark aimed at the youthfulness of my husband.

“Yeah,” I said. “We’ve got that whole George and Barbara Bush thing going on. People ask if he’s my son.”


Tim loves it when people comment on how young looking he is.

Well, he may look like he doesn’t belong in this 50 crowd, but the really poetic moment came when we discovered that we had all attended the same church together waaaayyyybaaaccckkkwheeeeennnn.

Kim and I were mothers of young children at the same time. This may not have been the first conversation we had. Who can remember that far back? But I loved Kim. I love her honesty, humor and genuine nature. This is not a woman indulgent of the pretentious. My kind of gal.

We learned that waaaayyyy baccckkk wheeennnn we were all “young”  (pun intended) Paul was on staff at East Hills. Tim was in graduate school at Portland State. I was at home, raising our son who turns 31 this Sunday, and trying to work the Christian formula.Which at that time, I remember as shedding the house of all white sugar and white flour. I did that for about as long as Tim could stand it. Then my even younger looking husband demanded that I go out and buy white flour. He didn’t like that stone-ground stuff.

It’s funny now, thinking about all the things that I used to equate with being “Christian.”

At the time I attended East Hills back in the early 1980s, I was all about working the formula. I read books about how to raise good kids (that at least took better than the whole wheat craze). I attended Bible Study at Pastor Cook’s house. What I remember about Jerry Cook is that he was the first fellow I ever heard talk about Vietnam veterans from the pulpit — in an honorable way.

And I remember the praise and worship. It was remarkable. In fact, if you’re read Paul Young’s book, The Shack, the God-character could have been modeled after the gal who lead worship at East Hills. Paul told me she passed away recently. In my mind she’s still in her late 20s. (It’s funny how when you’re in  your 50s you think of yourself as being your own son’s age.)

Paul and Tim both had that MK thing going. In fact, Paul said he used to be a translator for Wycliffe when he was only 5, because he was already speaking like a native. Tim used to do the same thing for his own daddy.

There’s that other thing — Wallowa County — the setting for The Shack. That’s the county where Tim’s grandfather once owned a 3,500 acre ranch, and where his Uncle Bob still owns a logging company.

I’ve spent time in Imnaha, writing.

Today, over lunch, we just sat around talking about raising kids and growing up and writing books and serving God.

Paul has received over 100,000 emails and letters in response to The Shack.

At  our core we are a people created for the transformative power of story.

Created by a God who at his core is simply a poet.

Robert Frost said that a poem begins with a lump in the throat.

We are the lump in the Creator’s throat.

It is over us that he rejoices.

It is over us that he weeps.

It is because of us that he labors.

It is he who is able to create a thing of beauty out of whatever brokenness we offer him.

The power of The Shack is it’s ability to remind us that we are the lump in God’s throat.

Thank you, Paul, for that.

Thanks, too, buddy  for making time for lunch. Tim and I enjoyed it so much.

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